On the Rupununi River, it’s been raining for four hours. I know this because we’ve been navigating upriver for five, and huddled under a tarp for most of it. I’ve never been this wet before, not even in the shower, I think bitterly. A drop of water, flavored, ironically, with sunscreen, drips off my nose onto my lips. It trickles down my chest, teasing and tickling the tender welts that dot my neck.
Surely I’d be used to this by now, after three years. The place is not exactly a misnomer. My guide shoots me an annoyed glance; he senses…
“Hora de despertar,” Ernesto’s mother gently whispers in his ear as she shakes him awake. Disoriented by the darkness, he lays still for a moment, his thoughts rapidly tracing the line of memories to surmise where he is now.
Tia Neli’s house. Shushufindi. We arrived last night at dusk. Cold showers and fresh tilapia to brush off the winding travel through the Andes from Quito. Picked up cousin Jorge in Lago Agrio on the way— a weekend away from la petrolera at his mother’s.
Ernesto rubs his eyes, wisps of his dream fading with each blink. Jorge is already in…
When I was three, my parents lost me in a shopping mall. A relatively common occurrence, one might think, given a three-year-olds’ attention span and size. Realizing I was gone, they spun in a panic and retraced their steps. I wasn’t far.
In front of a clothing store, some 100 feet away, stood a child rapt with music. Her body gyrating with innocent awkwardness, she had no sense of time or place. Yes, that child was me. My parents laughed their relief. Apparently, I looked at them and earnestly stated:
“I’ve got the moves.”
One might imagine that this story…
I dug way back in the archive for this article. It was the first one I ever posted after arriving in Chile in July 2015, back when I was innocent to the grueling heat of Santiago summers. After three years living there, I can say confidently: Santiago is very much NOT like Seattle. But it’s still home to me.
Before the wrenching drought that gripped Chile’s Central Region from 2017–2020, Santiago still had its fair share of gray days. Since I moved back there, we had almost none. To be fair, I tend to spend the worst of the winter…
This blog was originally written in June 2016, just three weeks before I would leave Santiago, Chile after almost 13 months studying abroad. I am slowly making my way through old blog posts to rescue memories and stories that feel important and bring them back into my canon. Reading through my university blog, which captures memories of my time in Chile and working with Operation Wallacea in Fiji, I am struck by two things:
I have a jacaranda tree I can see from my bedroom window. For a month of spring, it shudders with color, painting the curb with purple petals with each gust of April breeze.
Jacarandas do not bloom lightly. Instead, weighted by their opulence, their branches hang ponderous over parks and plazas. Like pregnant women, they glow and groan under their burdens.
I try to watch the jacaranda every day, waiting with dread for petals to fall and reveal the monochrome branches of summer. Yet her blooms are deceptively resilient. Day after ever-warming day, the jacaranda thrusts her bright blossoms into…
In January 2020, I found myself hiking alone through the majestic forests of Chilean Patagonia in the hours before my flight back to Santiago. It hadn’t been planned as a solo trip but I decided to go anyway after my partner dropped out just six hours before our flight. It turned out to be the last real adventure I’d take before COVID shut down global travel.
It’s always easy to come up with a million reasons not to write. I’m fighting with a few of them right now. The little voices sound something like:
There are thousands of content creators already out there.
What more do I have to add to the noise?
Who even wants to read my writing?
And the kicker: I don't know how to write. And I’m too busy to learn.
Raise your hand if any of this sounds familiar. Then bring it back down so you can keep scrolling.
I used to listen to every piece of advice anyone ever gave me. I even remember wondering why my young peers made so many mistakes and broke so many rules, ignoring all the advice that was around them. After all, adults were experienced; therefore — in my young mind — they must know better.
As a result, adults tended to really like me. Fellow kids, not so much. After all, who doesn’t love someone who thinks they are right and actually listens to their hard-earned experience?
But as I grew into an adult myself, I realized three things:
I vomited for the second time in my conscious memory while crossing the Drake Passage. What a time to find out you get seasick, eh?
Composing myself, I wobbled back to the dining room to find my family calmly tucking into a fish dinner as we rolled and bobbed over seething waves. It was all I could do to grab a roll of bread and hold my head high as I leaned into the wall and shuffled back to my room to lie down.
Despite my nausea, I noticed a woman eating alone. It’s unusual to travel to Antarctica by…