Note: This is a copy of my post that appears on the Pen Parentis blog.
First things first: a big warm thanks to Milda De Voe, Executive Director of the Pen Parentis literary organization in New York, for enthusiastically embracing the idea of blogging from the field as my family and I embark on a 2-month-long trip in Colombia.
Yes, we’re about to ship off to one of the world’s most beautiful, exotic, and in some minds, dangerous countries.
It’s not the first trip—I’ve been to Colombia a number of times, and loved it more each time. But it was never a writing-retreat-slash-black-piranha-wrestling-in-ancient-rivers-slash-Caribbean-island-vacation-turned-potential-international-conflict. With a toddler.
It’s the end of the year, and three years since my husband and I were able to have a real vacation (get-togethers for weddings and Christmas in Florida don’t count!). So we decided to take two months in South America. For him, it’s a chance to soak up several weeks of extreme fishing in the Orinoco river, for me it’s a long-deserved break from clients to do nothing but write, and for our daughter, it’s everything she has only seen in books—and the iPad.
(I’ll reveal what the Caribbean island is and why it’s involved in an international conflict in a future post.)
As any parent knows, the B.C. (“Before Children”) era simply does not compare with the A.B. (“After Birth”) period. One is freedom, tranquility, restaurants and romantic evenings out. The other is sleepless nights, food-strewn carpets, and classes in advanced psychology and negotiation skills. And yet, somehow, nothing but nothing compares with being able to give your child the experience of a lifetime, many times over. This trip is one of many that I want my daughter to experience, to open up her already inquisitive, nimble mind. Discovery of the world simply cannot wait.
A little about me before we head off. I’m a Czech-American author descended from a loooong family line that apparently goes back to the eleventh century. I write shorter fiction (short stories and novellas) inspired by the painful romance of real life. And the occasional non fiction work, like “The Serpent and the Jaguar”, a book about the Mayan Calendar and sacred time.
As I sit here writing, my 2-year-old tucked in next to me on my usually ample executive chair, wriggling all over my lap while I endeavor to hit the right keys, I reflect on how stable and safe everything here in Northern California is (generally). In Colombia, life is intense. A kiss from a beetle can give you Chagas disease. Untold parasites in standing water everywhere. Paramilitary trucks just around the bend of a rural road. But the light is brighter, the air cleaner, the food richer and tastier, and the people are some of the most social, warm, and hospitable on the planet. Your senses sharpen, your memory is young again, and you forget where you came from.
I can’t wait to share it all with you.