Worst-Case Scenarios

In honor of the one(ish) year anniversary of Eric’s free-diving accident, here is the full(er) story. I am in a taxi on my way to Hospital Mar Caribe.  It took longer than usual to find a taxi because it’s Good Friday, which appears to be a shut-the-city-down kind of holiday in Colombia.  The beaches have…

The Cult of Efficiency

Once, years ago, my friend Natalie asked me, “You always say you’re too busy for stuff.  What are you doing with your time?”  There was an awkward, confused silence, because my every waking moment felt crammed with non-discretionary activity, stuff I had to do and do well.  I felt like I barely had time to…

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…

The Quest for Culinary Diversity: Island, City, Mountains

The food in Santa Marta is delicious: fresh, accessible, flavorful.  But it’s also a bit monotonous, an endless parade of fried fish, grilled chicken, patacon [plantain pancake] and arroz con coco [coconut rice, which locals in their charming, final-syllable-swallowing accent call arro-co-co].  Of course the universe of fruits is vast, with mangoes, papayas, avocados, lulos, guanabana, guayaba and coconuts,…