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?
Raven Series # 1 At the exact moment Raven drained her mango smoothie, wiped her mouth, and set her glass down, the buzz of a power tool shattered the morning quiet. The small, colorful birds that had been flitting around our rooftop garden vanished. Raven walked to the edge of the rooftop garden and looked… Continue reading Raven and the Mango Roadtrip
Raven Series #2 | Jump to Raven # 1 Raven stepped off the night bus. I followed her out, squinting both ways into the darkness. The highway was deserted. We started hiking southwest, toward the center of Tulum, our adopted home town. It was the end of our doubling back maneuver. After borrowing the kidnapper’s car, we’d… Continue reading Tables and Chairs, Ravens and Beans
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)
I went to Guatemala to study Spanish. Guatemala City is home to no fewer than three statues of Christopher Columbus. All three show him standing atop the globe. Riding buses and reading newspapers, I saw pictures of presidents, vice presidents, and ambassadors who looked like the man atop the globe. Most Guatemalans are of Mayan descent.… Continue reading The American Dream Costs You Your Life
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