Magellan: My Trip Around The World

I’ve been with Automattic for nearly 11 years. The company is fully distributed, so there are no offices, but we have regular meetups and in-person events.

I’ve been to quite a few places worldwide, including across the US, Canada, Italy, Spain, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, Belize, Montenegro, The Netherlands, and so forth.

This month, I did something new. I circumnavigated the globe. I started in Austin, my home base, and flew to Atlanta to catch a plane to Madrid. I spent a few days in Madrid meeting with one of the teams in my engineering group. Then, I hopped on a short flight to Amsterdam to take a bigger plane to Taipei, Taiwan. I spent a few days in Taipei to participate in WordCamp Asia. Finally, I returned to Austin, flying east again through San Francisco.

I enjoy walkable cities, so every stop and the side quest to Toledo were right up my alley.


This was my first time in Madrid and my second time in Spain after visiting Malaga last October. European capitals are just splendid. I’ve enjoyed exploring Dublin, Rome, Madrid, and even Podgorica (for another blog post, but I spent a few days there last summer to support a team member in the hospital there).

We took a side quest to Toledo, the old capital long before Madrid. You’re right if you’re a church nerd and your “random things that you find interesting, but no one else” alarms are going off. Toledo is where the Mozarabic Rite grew up and is still maintained.

Within the Church, there are various liturgical families. Most diversity is “eastern” with the Byzantine, Maronite, Chaldean Rites. In the West, there used to be a variety of rites: Gallican, African, and so forth. The dominant rite was the Roman Rite and, in time, most either slowly died out as locals began to favor the Roman Rite—why most Catholics refer to themselves as “Roman Catholics.” At the Council of Trent, the Church’s reaction to the Protestant Reformation decreed that all rites and uses (e.g., variations within the Roman Rite) that could not demonstrate antiquity were suppressed. After this, many of those allowed to persist after those decrees voluntarily adopted the Roman Rite as well.

Today, you may find a Dominican Rite liturgy celebrated at a Dominican Priory, though most exclusively celebrate the Roman Rite. The Western Church has the Roman Rite globally, the Ambrosian Rite in Milan, and the Mozarabic Rite in Toledo.

I think explaining the details of the Rite is beyond the scope of this post. Still, I was excited to visit the Toledo Cathedral, which celebrates the Mozarabic Rite daily (other churches in the city will celebrate it on special occasions, otherwise using the Roman Rite).

The cathedral was beautiful, with a remarkable choir and very detailed stalls. The high altar was striking. The sacristy was larger than several churches I’ve been to.

The city was beautiful and provided an excellent backdrop for my “I’m tough with my coffee leading a group down the street” featured image for this post.


The next stop was Taipei, Taiwan, for WordCamp Asia. WordCamps are community-led conferences for WordPress. Most are hyperlocal, e.g. WordCamp Austin or WordCamp Orange County. There are three “flagship” conferences: WordCamp US (previously WordCamp San Francisco), WordCamp Europe, and WordCamp Asia.

Since starting in the WordPress community, I’ve generally passed on any WordCamp that wasn’t within driving distance. There was a request, though, for Jetpack folks, in particular, to attend WordCamp Asia. This was my first flagship and my first trip to Asia.

It was a lovely experience. Even though there were moments when I had no idea what I was eating, much less how to order it, it was great. The WordPress community in Asia is strong and I really enjoyed the people I met there.

I enjoyed the city as well. On Sunday, I struggled with finding published times for church but found a beautiful community at Holy Rosary (通化街玫瑰堂). The Mass was in Mandarin, so I’m incredibly grateful that the liturgy is easy enough to follow along with the structure! At the end, during the announcements, the reader looked at me and, in English, asked if there were any visitors today. I guess I stuck out. They invited (more demanded) that I stay for breakfast with them. If I’m lucky enough to return, they ensured I knew I had a home there.

After 10 days on the road, I was glad to finally be home. And my five-year-old was ready to be reunited with the Bluey and Bingo she had stuck in my suitcase so I wouldn’t be lonely in the hotel rooms at night.






2 responses to “Magellan: My Trip Around The World

  1. Michele Butcher-Jones Avatar

    What an awesome trip! I love the pictures of the church in Spain. I could so go on an European tour and only see old churches, cemeteries, and other religious sites only. Hopefully I will get to bump into you at another WordCamp in 2024! Congrats to 11 years! It seems crazy that WordCamp Austin when I gave my first Jetpack talk happened 10 years ago April. Time flies when we are having fun.

    1. Brandon Kraft Avatar

      Time does fly! It doesn’t feel like it should be nearly that long.

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