No One Told the Bakeries

Communism had fallen, but no one told the bakeries. It was the early, hopeful years of Yeltsin (before he devolved into a bloated drunk) and the news agencies were reporting that Russia was flowering, backed by B-roll footage of the first McDonalds near Red Square. I was 21, my first passport stiff in my money... Continue Reading →

Some Advice to My Past Self

Dear January 1st Becca, Tomorrow you leave on a six-month trip to Colombia.  I know you are both heart-poundingly excited and sleepless with anxiety.  What will Colombia be like?  How will traveling as a family go?  Will you be able to write?  You have conflicting visions of how this crazy plan will go down. In... Continue Reading →

Old Life, New Eyes

“As surely as there is a voyage away, there is a journey home.”  -- John Kabat-Zinn One of my most vivid memories of my college summer in Russia didn't occur in Russia at all, but instead on my first day back in the United States.  I had flown straight back to my unfurnished apartment and... Continue Reading →

Tidbits of Everyday Colombian Life

Sometimes, it isn't the famous sites or grand adventures that highlight the differences in culture, but the little, everyday things.  Here is a loosely curated list of what's different in Colombia.  Some good or fun ideas, some not-so-good, and some that continue -- even after almost five months -- to completely baffle us... We could learn from this!... Continue Reading →

Halfway There: Reflections

We are at the halfway point, the apex of this journey.  For three months we’ve been climbing up from our monolingual, baffled-by-everything starting point, and now we’re teetering at the top, starting the long slide toward our return to “normal” life.  In the grand tradition of Buzzfeed, where every article is “26 Male Celebs With... Continue Reading →

Cartagena and the Road Through Barranquilla

Cartagena is a strange stew -- one part Rodeo Drive, one part the seedier section of New Orleans, and one part quasi-third-world nation.  The juxtaposition is startling.  Painfully picturesque, but smelling vaguely of urine and sweat. Toothless men push sloshing handcarts of dodgy limeade past gorgeous arrays of high-end handicrafts gleaming behind spotless plate glass... Continue Reading →

A Stranger in a Foreign Land

For all of us who have lived outside our own culture whether by choice, by necessity or even by accident of birth, this: Everyone stares.  Your skin is too pink, or too brown.  Your hair is too bright, or too curly.  You are too tall, or too curvy, or too something.  Little kids squirm in... Continue Reading →

Peak Experiences: Climbing glaciers at the equator

It started to snow during the first kilometer, which is not what you’d expect, hiking in Colombia.  It wasn’t a soft, New Hampshire, get-out-the-cross-country-skis snow, but a Rhode Island coastal snow, halfway between snow and sleet, that uniquely snot-like texture that sticks to and soaks through everything.  Which is unfortunate since we were wearing 90%... Continue Reading →

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