Who Am I Anyway?

At a glimpse: Author, Archaeologist, Academic.
And it’s very lovely to meet you.
Thank you for visiting my page. I’m a novel writer and activist. A travel blogger and part-time archaeologist. I’ve lived and worked in the Middle East, Mexico, and the United States. Am currently based in Kansas City, Missouri and in the editing stages of my debut novel. .

In 2011 I quit my job, sold my car, and purchased a one-way ticket to Africa. This is what happened next:

Photo by Tomรกลก Malรญk
Photo by Adam Bayer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have been gifted with a passion for adventure, teaching, and most importantly, a feverish love of writing. And so it goes that this is a passion project, to seek out the farthest corners of our world, from the strangest and most curious animals fluttering about our diverse regions to the foods that inspire, and the folklore that give us humans that special dash of spice which connects every last one of us to a heritage as great as the universe itself.

With a passion for anthropology, ecology, food, and folklore this blog is meant to inspire, awe, and encourage.

Thank you for joining me as we uncover the nature that make us human, what makes us animal, and most importantly what make us US!

Like what you’re reading? Feeling suddenly compelled to throw donations wildly into the ether? Consider aiming your support towards my Patreon! and become a champion for the democratization of science journalism and free speech.

223 replies on “Who Am I Anyway?”

Absolutely. You have some incredible photographs. Partner that with travel and food! What more could you want? I’m actually craving panettone right now ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you’re having a great week out there.

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I’ve been checking up on your blog every once in a while and I only just now realized that you’re in Kansas City, too. You should post about Kansas City sometime. I’m curious to see how another traveler sees it.

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Hi Nicholas, I love your stories of the middle east and look forward to more. Petra is definitely on our list. But now also is Aqaba – your post made it come to life for me. Also love Rumi. And Hafiz.
Thanks for visiting our blog, and for the ‘like’ on the latest ‘nomadic life’ post.
Blessings
Alison

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How could someone as cool as YOU like my silly little posts? I truly do appreciate it. Curiously, my family and I are also VERY interested and involved in Archaeo/Anthro-pologies. (Nowhere nearly as enduring and steeped in history as the Middle East, though my Brother has ventured there.) We get out into the American Southwest- Anasazi, etc. and have visited places you really have to WORK to get to… almost holy places, at least to us. I’m sure that sounds silly.
We have also dug on The Quarles Farm, near Hannibal, MO, where Samuel Clemens spent his childhood summers. Very cool, as my family is related to him through my mother’s side. I want my children to know where they came from. We don’t go to Disney, we go to Museums, Battlefields & digs. I’m probably the lamest Mom ever…
But I do loves me the cheeses! I got semi-ill night before last because I put too much cheese in when I made dinner, but it tasted SOOOOO good. I hate that something as benign as cheese can send my tummy for a tailspin.
I shall enjoy reading about the amazing places you’ve been, and I will most likely never be fortunate enough to see. The frustrated Archaeologist in me will live vicariously through you! Safe passage, my friend… – MS

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Hey now! Don’t sell yourself short! Ah, i’ve always wanted to visit the Anasazi sites. We have some remarkable history here, less continuity, but truly inspiring. I’m guilty of having seen few sights in the states. In fact, I’m hoping to spend more time focus on our country for a while.
Haha, I dig your parenting method. Great move to keep your family at a point where history is also fun, not just another boring subject, it’s really important this day in time.
You gotta’ love good cheese. I’ve been a cheesemonger for 4 years now ๐Ÿ™‚ What a curious world we have! Keep on the voluntourism! Archaeology is a state of mind. Degrees be damned. It’s an art open to any and all interpretations.
Thanks so much for reading and don’t hesitate to shoot out a hello!

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What interesting travel experiences you have to share! The traveler in me can’t wait to read more about those places. My husband and I love to travel more as travelers than tourists. My in-laws are trying to convince us to visit Jordan next fall, but in a very touristy way. I think we’ll wait until the toddler gets older and then try to do it in a more authentic way. Thanks for sharing your adventures, and thanks for liking my blog, btw.

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Thanks for the ‘Like’
Your journey sounds very interesting.
I did a trip to India early 2013 ,somewhere I had wanted to visit for many years..wasn’t dissapointed. Wasn’t blogging then but did keep a journal and took lots of photos,will put together a post on the trip.
Safe journeys

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What a wonderful adventure you have experienced, and, hopefully, just a taste of things to come. You might also enjoy North Africa – upper Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Sudan – full of little known archaeological findings.

When we lived in Jordan, we always tried to find out where pipes were being laid. We would find the excavators, and go early in the morning to look through the dirt for artifacts from earlier times uploaded from the ditches. The rule was that if the artifact were on the surface, you could take it.

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Thanks for following! I don’t have a lot up yet, but reading a few (you have so many!) of your posts, I think we have a lot in common. I was in a serious relationship with a saudi for a few years, and I find that culture fascinating. I’ll see you around!

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Thanks so much for following my blog. I’ve met some very interesting people on these travel-related blogs. Adventurous, non-traditional, fun… you’re rubbing off on me in a good way! All the best, Pete.

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I am going to begin excavating your old posts to find what you did in Turkey. Of my travels, I believe I fell the most deeply in love with Turkey, and I think it’s because I just didn’t expect to be so delighted. As an anthropologist, I share some of your education and some of your perspectives. Thank you for liking my post and giving me the opportunity to find your blog. Happy journeys!

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Right on. Turkey has really raised the bar with their solid nonsecular system. And to balance, so delicately, ease/west, old/new, Muslim/Christian, and so on… how cool is that? I’d love to hear about your experience there. Have you written about Turkey on Conscious Engagement?
Thanks for introducing yourself. It’s great meeting others who have gone down the anthro-path.

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I spent my 16 days in Turkey back in 2000, and unfortunately was not blogging then. But you give me a great idea. I did keep a journal. I’ll have to find it and see if I can resurrect some thoughts for my blog, and scan some of the old photos.

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Much appreciated! That truly means a lot. I’ve yet to set foot in India, though it’s slowly making way towards my itinerary. I’m shooting for a 2015 trip to the region to study the cultures in/around Nepal, Burma, Bhutan, India, and Thailand.

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I haven’t been to any of those other countries but I love India. Have discovered there is no middle ground when it comes to India. Either people LOVE it or HATE it. Some even hate the idea of India. For me it is all about the people and they are so patient kind
Friendly and long suffering . Some of the nicest people anywhere . If we are lucky enough to get to go again with students it will be 2015 Jan-April. Husband is professor of architecture. So we hit lots of temples . You need to go to Veranasi. Life changing.

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Wow. What adventures you have had. And you’ve done what most Americans fail to do. Found out how the other half lives. And that they are much like us. Human beings who laugh and cry, who love and are compassionate, who have friends and who care about those friends. I want to thank you for stopping by, taking in my blog and posting a like. It’s great to know you. And please continue to share your life with the rest of us. I look forward to more of them.

A final question: Was you inspired to go to Morocco by the writer Paul Bowles, author of “The Sheltering Sky”.

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Nice to hear from someone with such an adventurous spirit and an appreciation for Rumi. Some of my poems are closer in spirit to Rumi than others (but even my mischievousness is reverent–as Rumi said, “no one is more openly irreverent than the Lover. and no one is more secretly reverent.”)

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Sounds amazing and challenging! I packed all my stuff up years ago and lived in Italy for nine months, still talk about it all the time. Great blog!

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I’m originally from Texas, living in Kansas City, Missouri at the moment.
Ah, Petra! I will give you the most truthful answer and that is I spent 4 weeks in Jordan without a single issue. As a solo traveler I often found the centerpiece for many locals who were very proud to show off their country and had the chance to form intimate relationships with the Bedouin, as much as one can in a month!
I felt entirely welcome, safe, and taken care of. There is a sense of care that comes naturally from the Jordanians. What a beautiful characteristic to experience in the 21st century!
I hope you make it to Jordan and if you ever have any questions about travel in the Middle East, shout at me!
So where are you currently?

-Andriani

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Thank you, so much! It’s really great to hear such positive feedback.
Ah, life in the states is wonderful.
Yet the initial reverse culture shock from returning was a real pain.
I miss the kindness of strangers in the Middle East. The hospitality, the respect! I have trouble connecting with people here at times so the relationships I built there really meant a lot.
Not to mention the history! I specialize in Nabatean archaeology which is just so damn specific. Jordan and Saudi Arabia harbor the majority of Nabatean history. While, here in the states, i’m like a fish out of water.
Nevertheless, I’m happy to call this my home, for the time being ๐Ÿ˜‰

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And which bit of water are you in (where are you from?!) I am currently trying to talk a friend into a summer holiday in Jordan next year. I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures of Petra, I’m desperate to see it! Is it a difficult place to get around as a traveller?

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Honestly, difficult at first. Reverse culture shock can be so harsh. To come from an environment where personability and hospitality come before profit and personal gain back to a more aggressive culture was depressing, for me. I miss the opportunities to work on my Arabic and explore the desert/bazaars/food/culture… Ah, yet, with all things it’s better to have too little than too much. Lest the experience becomes nothing more than the norm and we desensitized. So in the long term, it’s nice to be home getting pumped for my next excursion into an exotic world.

I’m really happy you enjoyed my post, it’s painful to write about yourself, you know!

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Haha, I admittedly went through a rough week when I first set foot abroad, though went pro directly after! Sort of.
I miss the openness of strangers and the discovery of culture. All of which we have here, yet in small, closed doses.
Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season and enjoy your New Years!

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That reminds me of a couple of conversations that came up, how people would ask me as someone from the UK about “low context culture”, as opposed to Arab “high context culture”, the idea that the culture there is a lot more tight knit. so you don’t need to say as many words to get your point across as in the UK. I guess it’s in some ways true, but then you create your own little communities in which you sometimes don’t need to say anything. Ach, wanderlust. It doesn’t disappear… Happy hogmanay to you too!

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