Steven Pressfield would call it the dumbest idea he’d ever heard — but I’ll wager that was probably before Robert Redford got involved. Pressfield’s idea blossomed into the novel that became his first commercial success, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Unsatisfied, the idea morphed into a movie starring Will Smith and Matt Damon — and directed by Robert Redford.… Continue reading How Steven Pressfield Sold America the Bhagavad Gita
He was a racing camel “Tom Marley is a racing camel,” Ahmed said. “The fastest in all of the Sinai.” “Tom Marley?” I asked. “Not Bob?” Ahmed appeared somewhat surprised by my ignorance, but the stupidity of tourists is known the world over. Ahmed patiently explained that Tom Marley, the racing camel, was named after Tom… Continue reading A Camel Named Tom Marley Made Me Choose: Be Right or Be Happy?
In traveling, as in life, there are some things you simply don’t tell your parents. Going beyond what happens at the hostel stays at the hostel, some things you just keep to yourself. Including things that would keep your mom up at night and lead to a blizzard of reminders about safety and links to… Continue reading Who Reads Warning Signs Crossing the Nile?
Short Story Ellie pulled her hip waders up over her jeans and ran the straps through her belt. “There you go, Baby,” she said to Nathan, “You wanted to see me in thigh highs.” She mock-posed and laughed, the sun reflecting off her aviator sunglasses and her thick, black braids lying on her shoulder. Behind… Continue reading Thigh Highs
Also: pay no attention to where you are going Three of us lurched down the narrow path carved into the dense forest. Weaving our way from one side of the path to the other, we paid no attention to the various squawks and rustlings produced by the creatures surrounding us. Having consumed an intemperate number of… Continue reading How to Almost Run into Massive Hippos (Hint: Be Drunk)
Rae and I pedaled as quickly as we could. Above us, the evening sky purpled toward evening. Beneath us, majestic, neon-bright iguanas serpentined through the clear water, their sinuous glowing tails trailing behind them like iridescent streamers chasing a comet. We pedaled with everything we had, fighting to maintain headway in the wide, algae-choked canal.… Continue reading Is My Iguana Dream Trying to Tell Me Something?
Non-scientific field notes from a chimp tracker Semliki Note #1 — Data Up early with the bats in a soft rain, I’m walking down a steep path to the climate station we’ve set up at the river. The forest is silent except for some restless insects and one or two birds. I raise the kerosene lantern high to… Continue reading Three Notes from Semliki
Names change colors when you are dusty around the eyes. Watch a gerenuk at sunset while listening to a Walkman. These two odd sentences are mnemonics I constructed to remind myself of chains of thought that occurred to me while learning to do anthropological fieldwork in East Africa. Searching the forests of the Semliki Valley… Continue reading Dusty Around the Eyes
My daughter says my stories seem fake because my characters don’t use cell phones. There’s no email either, I tell her. Nor Insta, TikTok, or Twitter. She rolls her eyes and says, Cell phones are mandatory, Dad. Man-da-tory. Maybe she’s right. She’s 17 after all. I tell her, I think technology peaked with the invention… Continue reading Dad 2.0
I couldn’t figure it out. Was there something on my face? Was my fly open? I hadn’t made it halfway across campus from the bus stop and three friends had already stopped me to ask how I was doing. I was fine, as far as I knew. But I was starting to wonder. It was… Continue reading Not Quite Canadian