Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Costa Rica, Rivas

I suddenly became homesick for Russia this morning. I was laying in bed in Costa Rica reading a novel set in New York City, listening to a weedwhacker running outside and feeling the tin roof slowly heat up with the sun and thinking of getting up in a few minutes and picking some oranges off the trees in the yard and squeezing some orange juice. Then I missed Russia. I thought, it's November, and I've seen Russia in all of the other months, but never November. I thought of the frozen rivers, and the dark skies, walking the cities of Russia, all the concrete, the people wearing fur, the ice cream, the electric trolleybuses. Blue eyes framed by darkened eyelashes. Frozen breath clouding faces when they speak, in that language, lilting along. I'll send some email later today to Russia, to California, to France, to other corners, I decided.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Guatemala, Guatemala City

Through Mexico in a week. Mexico is a big country. From the desert to the mountains to the farmland to the largest city in the world and finally into the jungle.

Now in Guatemala City. It's an hour and a half from the Pacific and a mile high in elevation. It has been two years since I last saw Brent in Tennessee. He has been here for those last two years, running a dig for his archaeology doctorate. His site is in and around a cave complex, in conjunction with one of the principle excavations currently being dug in the ancient Mayan world. Some of the material being recovered is gorgeous. I was in the lab yesterday, surrounded by some very photogenic bas-reliefs and stuccoes that Brent quietly described as "priceless." In fact, their black market value is in the hundreds of thousands or millions of U.S. dollars. Robbery is a big, big problem and a constant threat. Brent passionately loves the archaeology, the danger, the country, the food, and the people. He's planning to marry Mirza, an exceptional Guatemalan archaeology student.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

U.S.A., Washington, Seattle

E----- woke me up when she left for work. I listened to the rain tapping onto the balcony outside. Microsoft is putting her up in a corporate high-rise, downtown, on the waterfront. I rolled out of bed and stood at the window. I looked at the ships chugging past the docks, the wet rooftops of the buildings lining the wet streets, the people far below walking with their coffee and their rainjackets. I came here to say good-bye, not to E-----, for her I’ll see again in Asia one day, but to this, my favorite American city.

Last night at dinner with some of her new Microsoft cohorts, I answered a question with, “I’m on my way back to Mongolia.” Sandeep responded that he had just returned from spending the summer traveling in East Asia. “Mongolia was the last country I visited,” he said, “and the most amazing.”