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 I Need Conversational Practice
In Pedro Páramo, Juan Preciado travels to Comala to meet his father. Too much dust, too many ghosts in the superheated air to know what happens when he gets there. What’s real and what’s imagined? Does it matter? In The One Inside, Sam Shepard writes about himself, his tiny father, about winding roads crisscrossing the… Continue reading Road Trips Where No One’s Looking
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?
Raven Series # 1 Raven drained her mango smoothie, wiped her mouth, and set her glass down. “Looks like it’s time to go, Popsicle.” I looked over the short cinder-block wall built on the edge of the roof. On the street, three men pulled masks over their faces. Two of them faced the street as… Continue reading Raven and the Mango Roadtrip
Raven Series #2 | Jump to Raven # 1 Raven steps off the night bus. I follow her out, squinting both ways into the darkness. The street is deserted. I turn back to the driver to ask ¿La plaza central? He points a finger then closes the door. Raven and I walk west toward the heart of… Continue reading Tables and Chairs, Ravens and Beans
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’
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
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