The Blind Masseuse
A Traveler's Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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Title Page, About the Publisher, Copyright, Dedication
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Introduction - The Charm of the Unfamiliar
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While walk ing home to Rafael’s house, I bumped into a cow. It wasn’t too un usual to en coun ter a cow in a place like La Vic toria, Costa Rica; I was in farm land, after all. But be cause it was pitch black, I didn’t under stand at first what had hap pened to me. My belly made con tact with some thing firm, but fleshy, and I bounced lightly back ward and stopped. When I aimed my vi sion at the in vis ible ob struc tion, I began to make out the out-...
Lard Is Good for You (Costa Rica)
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In Costa Rica, I lived on lard and cof fee. There was lard in the bread, in the rice, and in the beans. There was lard in the cook ies, in the im i ta tion Do ri tos I ate at the school where I taught; it was coat ing the po ta toes and being used to fry ba na nas in the caf e te ria. Dam aris, the woman I lived with, nor mally bought only three food items when she went to the super mar ket in the city: a sack of rice, a sack of beans, and sev eral sticks of man teca veg e tal ...
A Normal American Life (New York)
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The worst bliz zard of the decade hit days after I moved to New York from the sunny climes of Costa Rica. El e va tors all over the city were out. Snow plows growled through the streets like tanks and piled snow on top of the cars parked along the curb; the city be came a maze of tun nels with five-foot walls of packed I had just signed a lease with my col lege boy friend, David. We’d been liv ing in New York for ex actly three days when it was bur ied in ...
Coke Is It (Bolivia)
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In Bo livia, I was se duced by the hobble-skirt bot tle. I had never been one to drink Coke in a foreign coun try—it was just too American—and dur ing my first days in Bo livia, I ad hered to the local brews. I chewed coca leaves and drank maté through a short metal straw, try ing not to suck the leaves into my mouth along with the liq uid. I did what I could to fit in: I wore long sleeves, even in the heat; I spoke only Span ish, of course; I learned to re spect the fact ...
The Blind Masseur (Costa Rica)
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I asked di rec tions from a blind man. This was in the Mar ri ott hotel just out side of San José, Costa Rica. The Mar ri ott was a lux ury hotel with a driv ing range, two pools, and com pli men-tary brunch. It was staffed by men who in sisted on car ry ing one’s dirt-encrusted back pack even when one had a run ning rule to carry it one self. Most im por tant at present: there was a spa. For the past four weeks I had been sleep ing on the floor of an un oc cu pied house in the ...
One Side of the Story (Nicaragua)
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Diego and I hit it off at once. First of all, he could talk to me. I mean ac tu ally con verse, which was un usual for him in his pro fes sion. Diego was my Span ish teacher, and I was the en ig matic stu dent who came to the school in León who al ready spoke Within five min utes of our first meet ing, Diego laid his pen on the table and closed the book he’d in tended to use on my first day of in struc tion. “What are you doing at a Span ish school in Nic a ra gua?” ...
The Answer Was No (Cuba)
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My friend Tim, co di rec tor of Put ney Stu dent Travel, was skilled at talk ing me into things. This time he had spear- headed a pro gram for American high school stu dents in Cuba. Put ney had fi na gled a li cense from the US Treas ury. In the early 2000s I didn’t know one could do such a thing, but ap par ently “ed u ca tion” was one of the ways Americans could le gally get around the anti-Castro travel ban. They needed some one to teach writ ing ...
This Is Not a Cruise (Around the World)
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I could not get used to the win dows in Class room 3. They ran from floor to ceil ing, lin ing the en tire port side wall. The Pa cific Ocean rolled by. Later, in other seas, there would sud denly be land when we weren’t ex pect ing to see land, or The Voice would come over the speak ers—“Goooood morn ing, every one. If you are star board, you might catch a glimpse of sea tur tles swim ming along-side the ship”—and we’d all have to stop what we were doing to run ...
How to Be a Tourist (Cambodia)
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Some thing about Cam bo dia had wormed its way in side me years be fore I went. There was no rea son I should have ze roed in on Cam bo dia in par tic u lar in stead of So malia or Ar gen tina or Leb a non. But I know it had some thing to do with the writer/actor Spald ing Gray, on whom I de vel oped a siz able writer- crush, and the films Swim ming to Cam bo dia and The Kill ing Fields.In my lower Man hat tan neigh bor hood, back when I lived in New ...
The Burmese Dreams Series (Burma)
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The pic tures tell you I was there. I took the pic tures of the cows lol ling and the water buf falo lum ber ing in herds. I took the pic tures of the nov ice monk with the suit case, walk ing along the road, between towns, in the mid dle of what ap peared to be no where. The photo graphs are blurred and soft; the greens are es pe cially vi brant. I have no pic tures of my self in this land scape. I was only be hind, never in front of, the lens of a large and pow er ful ...
I Know What You Did in Egypt, A Letter to Gustave Flaubert (Egypt)
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Dear Gus tave Flau bert,I don’t know how you would feel about this, but I’ve read all the let ters to your mother and your friend Louis that you wrote while you were in Egypt. I’ve also read parts of your An ed i tor named Fran cis Steeg muller ran sacked your files and de cided it would be a good idea to take these pages and bind them to gether as a book. He called it Flau bert in Egypt. It was the book you ...
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I could travel alone in the world for only so long. When I got mar ried—and I would only have cho sen a traveler as my mate—I would have to start think ing be yond my self.Three months be fore my wed ding I made one last ex tended solo trip to Costa Rica. I spent the month of May at the artists’ col ony in Ciu dad Colón, and I took a week end to go back to La Vic toria, where I had not been in over a decade. I de scended the bus and faced ...
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...con tem po rary travel writ ing. Thank you, Jason, my shep herd.Along my travels my deep est grat i tude has been owed to Jef frey Shum lin, Peter Shum lin, Tim Weed, and every one at Put ney Stu dent Travel. Also: Aaron Le vine, Dar win Martínez, San dra Vigil Con seca, Kate Strick land, David McCrea, Ka rina Sal guero, José Qui ros, Doña ...
Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth