Merry Christmas America, Love Arabia

Merry Christmas America! I bring tidings of great joy from the Arabian Peninsula (even though I’m currently in Vermont). These tidings come courtesy of my beloved colleague Dr. Abdulhaq, who is originally from Iraq but has been a resident of the U.A.E. for some time now. Dr. Abdulhaq and I traveled to Philadelphia for a conference in…

A Boy Named Godbless

In late September, I spent a week in East Africa recruiting Tanzanian and Kenyan students to pursue degrees at Ajman University. Studying in the UAE has become even more desirable now that getting visas for the U.S. is growing more problematic by the day. I’m proud that Ajman University offers an excellent and affordable education for…

Zanzibar, The Long Hello

I first embarked for Zanzibar in the early Spring of 1987. I finally arrived on September 24, 2017. And even though it took 30 years to land on the island, I only had four hours to explore it.  The problem, back in 1987, was that Zanzibar was “closed” for unknown reasons. I ended spending a raucous week in Dar…

Maysoon Season in Ajman

A force of nature swept into Ajman on September 15. Not a sand storm, which is all too common in these parts. Not a rain storm, which is an all-too-rare occurrence around here. Instead, those of us living in the Northern Emirates were treated to the power of Maysoon season. If you haven’t heard of…

Oman Rocks, Again

What do 29 hours in Khasab, at the Northern tip of Oman, have to offer? Dhows, dolphins, and a very dramatic coastline known as the “fjords of Musandam.” Khasab is so far north on the Arabian Peninsula that our travelling companion’s phone actually welcomed him to Iran.  The waters here run through the Strait of…

Heart-Shaped Go

Some of the green traffic signals in this part of the world — the Northern Arab Emirates — light up in the shape of a heart, and some of the red ones are aglow with smiley faces. That is all I know on earth, and all I probably need to know. We lived at the…

Good Grief in the Gulf

One of the very first people who befriended me here in Ajman is named E. Her English isn’t great, or perhaps I should say my Arabic is awful, so we don’t understand each other very well. But yet know each well somehow. Last Thursday afternoon she came to wish me a good weekend — using the…

A Worldly Nomad with a Thirst for More

I’ve received two beautiful reviews for DRYLAND over the last two days. I share them here in the hopes that they will inspire NYC folks to attend my reading on Monday, June 26, 7 p.m., at the Half King in Chelsea. When I take the stage or podium or microphone, I most certainly will be…

Arabian Nights, and Days

I’ve been going to one end of a pool — or overseas location — and coming back again for my whole life. Perhaps my existence should be characterized as a series of laps instead of years. — Nancy Stearns Bercaw, DRYLAND Sixteen nights from now, I will wake up to a brand new Arabian day…

Landing on Dryland

Now that DRYLAND has been out and about for a month, I’m reminiscing about how I got the words out of my head. There was one solid year of rumination, followed by a solid year of writing. During that period, I often made fake cover images — as a way to inspire me and to help me identify what exactly I was trying…

On Drinking, Writing & Living Overseas

I recently had the wonderful experience of being interviewed by the prolific poetess and daring promptress (as in lighting a fire under writers) known as Jena Schwartz.  Jena asked me some of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked — prompting some of my most honest answers ever about writing, drinking and traveling.  Thank you, Jena, for this great opportunity to connect with you…

For Munzatsi, with love

Thirty years ago, I left my post as a Peace Corps Volunteer at Munzatsi Secondary School in Maragoli, Kenya. I didn’t think I’d ever look back, let alone go back. As a young American woman and new teacher in rural Africa, I struggled with being far, far away from what I knew about life. I was fresh…