I named the spider Billy. I was supposed to kill him—sacrifice is the term in the experimental protocol—after the experiment was complete, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t even finish the experiment. Why bother? Whatever electromagnetic event wiped out comms with the transport ship took out my exterior cams too, so I’ve been flying blind… Continue reading Four Thousand Kilometers Above Jupiter
Thoughts after one journey and before another “Tell me,” she said, “why gringo women wear such ugly shoes.” She said it in Spanish, her tongue forming the precise syllables that I envied and still failed to produce after years of practice. Her name was Viviana, and she was my Spanish teacher. We were practicing my conversation… Continue reading A Steamy Day and a Missed Connection In Honduras
Wanderlust is invading my dreams. The pandemic shelved six weeks on the Camino de Santiago, but the other night my mind decided to depart without me… The inn is far enough off the Camino de Santiago to be lightly visited, even at the height of the pilgrimage season, but that is to my advantage, for… Continue reading Why Is There a Denny’s on the Camino de Santiago?
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?
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)
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
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