Lone man on the bus

June 2005. “De donde eres (Where are you from)? Guatemala?” asked the cab driver. “De los Estados Unidos (From the United States)," I replied. “No hablo español muy bien (I don’t speak Spanish very well).” “Ah!” he said in a knowing tone. “It’s very hard to go north,” he continued in halting English. He grinned …

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Four-letter words

May 2010. “S_ _ _!” I screamed under my breath. The pain from my Achilles tendon shot up my right leg with each step I took up the ladder to my upper berth at the local albergue (pilgrim inn). I rubbed my ankle to soothe it with little effect. It had been that kind of …

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The pyramid’s shadow

January 2019. New Year’s Day. My anticipation had been building up for days. They’re the main reasons for my visit to Egypt – the Pyramids at Giza, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. I dodged the touts pushing camel and horseback rides, and the beasts’ droppings to reach the biggest edifice – …

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The importance of being James

July 2018. “James.” It took a while for the name to register in my mind. “James,” the voice repeated. “Here I am. Sorry,” was all I could say. I took my latte and spotted a seat at the corner of a Starbucks café at Munich’s Hofgarten. It was probably common for customers not to respond …

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Shock and awe in West Texas

August 1988. I had just stepped out of the academic department chair’s office with things to ponder. “You'd be a good doctoral candidate,” he said. I was flattered but was also taken aback. I never considered getting a Ph.D. after earning my master’s degree. Doing so meant more than following a different career path. I’d …

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