El día de los muertos

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.) Friday, October 26 “Only against death does man cry out in vain.” — Malcolm Lowry At this time of year, my mind wanders the streets of Urubamba in Peru’s Sacred Valley. I brush past the spirits of Incan warriors who roamed the area …

A haunting, hilarious talk on the beach with George Saunders

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.) Tuesday, August 28 I’ve been thinking a lot about ghosts. We passed a Tico cemetery at some point while Jeff was driving me from the airport in San José to Uvita, and I noticed the graves there were above ground, a cluster of …

There’s a new monkey in town

(To read El Gringo Feo’s Costa Rica Diary from the beginning, start here.) Friday, August 23 After hearing howlers almost nightly while catching only fleeting glimpses of them, I finally got a good, long look at monkeys. But they weren’t howlers. I heard commotion in the trees after arriving at the shack for my sundown services …

Dia de Los Muertos

“Only against death does man cry out in vain.”  — Malcolm Lowry Anita seemed perplexed. Lara, Emma and I were all standing in the middle of San Gregorio Cemetery with tears streaming down our cheeks. It was all so beautiful. So sad. So poignant. We were surrounded by hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Mexican families who …

Remembering the best copy editor ever

Every day after deadline at The Albuquerque Tribune, Barb Page would start her rounds. We called it Schmooze Patrol. She’d set sail in the back of the room at the copy desk. Wade through the city desk. Drift past the features and sports departments. And moor at the front desk, loaded down with a day’s …

2010: Ashes to ashes

When Xena died last summer, I didn’t really write about it. I couldn’t. It was one of those rare times when words fluttered away from me like a flock of frenetic finches. Tonight, as 2010 gasps its last and the Knoxville Years draw to a close, I decided to scatter the big dog’s ashes in …