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 in the dense forest surrounding us. Having consumed… 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

Dusty Around the Eyes

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

First Dose Problems, or The Privilege of a Sore Arm

The needle stabs and the guilt stings. My country, the USA, has spread the virus and hoarded the vaccine. I’ve commiserated with my international friends who remain at risk, but didn’t delay my first dose. Soon I’ll travel safe while they’re still locked down. Cheap flights beckon. My guilt fades. © Copyright 2021 by Jim… Continue reading First Dose Problems, or The Privilege of a Sore Arm