To conquer and be conquered

How’s this for an approach to decolonizing travel writing?

“For even if history is most often recounted by victors, it’s not always easy to tell who the rightful narrators should be, unless we keep redefining with each page what it means to conquer and be conquered.”

Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously


“Solidarity is not the same as support. To experience solidarity, we must have a community of interests, shared beliefs and goals around which to unite, to build Sisterhood. Support can be occasional. It can be given and just as easily withdrawn. Solidarity requires sustained, ongoing commitment.”

bell hooks

Breaking Night

The virtue of travel is that it purges life before filling it up.” Nicolas Bouvier

All I wanted was to go back home. After spending a dope month in the East Bay for a writing workshop, I had to catch a plane to New York to pick up the rest of my stuff before hopping on another flight to Ecuador, where I live, the next morning. But after layovers in Las Vegas and Detroit, my flight was cancelled. That blasphemy of an airline, Spirit, got me on a plane to New York two days later, effectively making me miss my Ecuador flight, which cost an arm and a leg to reschedule. I had 2 days in the Clarion in Romulus, Michigan to kill, in which I fought and pleaded with airline officials and subsequently downed a case of Angry Orchard in the bathtub.

The only gleaming nugget to come out of that pile of shit was that Avianca, who were flying me to Ecuador, upgraded me to business class, and, as Joan Didion would (probably never) say, the term that came to mind was: BALLIN’. I’ve got a bad back that keeps me from sitting for too long and it’s made flying a nightmare, but my business class seat transformed into a twin bed and I was gifted with a real blanket and pillow, lots of wine and plenty of other free shit.

In the morning I had a layover in Bogotá. In the morning I had an intense migraine and a sinus thing that flared the whole right side of my face up in pain. In the morning I had some sort of muscle relaxer hangover and could barely function. My luck comes in spurts and then reverts back to its default state.

In the morning, our plane curled skyward like a rebellious strand of hair.  The flight was short, and we were soon descending into a heavy swell of clouds, thick and amorphous, as if all the shadows in the world had been sucked into a mass in the sky. After a bit of turbulence, a dark city emerged on the underside, glittering in the civil twilight, surrounded by the crooked spine of mountains that make up the Andes. I tried to look for my home amongst the lego-like squares, and then realized, with no surprise whatsoever, that I thought of Quito as home. The words that came to mind were: worth it.