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…

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…

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Delusional

This morning, as I brushed my teeth (water-free since the tap water isn’t safe) in the house where we are staying in rural Peru, I watched the neighbor plow his backyard with a pair of oxen.  This sounds like a romantic view — and four months ago it would have been — but it prompted…

The Season of Invitados

For almost three months, we were a self-sufficient four-person unit: Karpinskis vs. Colombia.  We ate, slept, studied, shopped, cooked, cleaned, watched Modern Family, did everything as a foursome.  It was both awesome — we could complete each other’s thoughts! — and occasionally painful — we could complete each other’s thoughts!  Then late March and Eric’s…

The Doldrums, plus Poems of Homesickness

As we tried to channel our longing for home in a productive manner, poems happened. TWO-VOICE POEM by Retta San Diego                                                   Both                                               Santa Marta You grew up with me You’re experiencing with me I am newfangled I am native I am here, I am waiting I can teach you I can comfort you I can…

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…