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Don’t Sweep the Walls – or – Things in Peru are Different

The most social place in any house is the kitchen. In this, at least, my Peruvian homestay was like any other home in the world. Life happened while meals were being cooked. It was the specific details of that life that constantly reminded me that I was living in a different culture. I loved living […]

The Birthday Party

Tia Maria turned 47 yesterday. Tia (Aunt) Maria is Feliciana’s sister, and runs a local food-and-lodging establishment and internet café. Unlike the one-year-old birthday party for Maria’s granddaughter, Luciana, that I attended the first weekend I arrived in Ollantaytambo, this party was noticeably lacking in pink decorations and Barbie piñatas. There were no elaborately frosted […]

to be read to the tune of pink floyd’s “animals”

I’m wondering if I name my fleas, if we can come to an accord in which they stop sucking my blood. I’ve killed one, and spotted another, but it got away. They can’t be squished. They have to actually be captured, and skewered with a fingernail until the blood that they’ve extracted squirts out of […]

¡Radio Felicidad!

Feliciana likes to turn the radio on while she cooks lunch in the early afternoon. Today is Sunday, no school day, and Camila and I sat on tiny wooden stools in the doorway, flipping through her older brother’s Spanish-English dictionary and practicing the alphabet. It was good practice for me, too, to think of words […]

Overacheivements

Feeling a bit over-extended these days. But oh, it feels good. I’m making up for five months of being unemployed and purposeless, I guess. A lot is happening all of a sudden. I’m going into my third winter in Utah, and I’m reminded of my third year at Clark University: the first two years were […]

Filipino BBQ

While in Canada last month, Jeni and I were invited to a barbeque at her roommate Mia’s parents’ house. “We have to go, Susan. This isn’t any old backyard barbeque. This is a Filipino barbeque!”

It was cold and rainy outside, but warmth and festivity bloomed through the front door as we entered. I took […]

drink the water II

Jesus and I left Iquitos on the Eduardo VI, a posh(er) version of the Jeisawell, more crowded, less quaint. We weren’t the only tourists this time, though we were the only two sleeping in hammocks in the economy class. The two Dutch had mattresses on the upper deck, and the Belgians slept in a private […]

food in a hole on an island (in the universe)

There are few occasions in life when you can actually sense the universe turning around you, interrupting its normal, chaotic, forward flow to sit you gently in place and to organize the elements of time and space around you like the tumbling pins of a combination lock. I was on Isla Tengla, near Puerto Montt, […]

returning to civilization after a long tramp in the bush

Today I have spoken more words than I have uttered in the last month. My throat is dry, my tongue and mouth are tired, but I am out of my head – I have rejoined humanity and am relearning the finer points of human communication. I’m on the North Island: this bustling metropolis of an […]

a month later…

…I find my way out of the rain forest! Has it really been a month? Can I blame the delay in updates on my freezer-burned brain? Apologies, faithful readers. Writing, as of late, has felt more like work than play, and after six months as an Antarctic galley slave, I’m all about play. This is […]