A Camel Named Tom Marley Made Me Choose: Be Right or Be Happy?

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?

Three Sorrowful Stories My Spanish Teacher Told Me About America’s ‘Bleeding Scar’

The perpetual crisis on our southern border It’s not often a New York Times editorial triggers me.  This one, written by Jorge Ramos about the endless crisis on the US-Mexico border, that frontier Carlos Fuentes described as a “bleeding scar,” did. I grew up in California — in wine country no less — where I witnessed firsthand the xenophobia and… Continue reading Three Sorrowful Stories My Spanish Teacher Told Me About America’s ‘Bleeding Scar’

How to Almost Run into Massive Hippos (Hint: Be Drunk)

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)

Tuskers, Ping Pong, and Spears

A travel memory from central Kenya, 1997 Three six-foot-plus Samburu warriors sat at the bar, their left hands curled around half-liter bottles of Tusker. Their right hands caressed the shafts of long, lion-killing spears. The bar was in Maralal, Kenya, which is where the pavement ended — about a days drive out of Nairobi. It was August and… Continue reading Tuskers, Ping Pong, and Spears