Friday, May 15, 2009

Letter From Mom

Your blog is very cute, but all those people who are your devoted fans do not have a grandchild traveling in shark infested waters to an island which has already infected 2 family members with a permanently disabling parasite.
Love, anyway --- Mama

I concede that my mother may have a point here. The last time my brother went to Fiji with his family, they contracted a variety of parasitic worm that laid eggs in their spinal fluid and caused permanent damage to their central nervous systems. The parasite, Gnathostoma, has the unfortunate habit of gnawing at the pain centers in the brain, so that my brother and his wife periodically hallucinate extreme agony in various parts of their bodies. Also, my brother is occasionally convinced that worms are crawling under his skin and coming out his eyes.

But consider the upside. Once you have been diagnosed with a permanently debilitating and agonizing medical condition, the doctors are willing to prescribe all manner of fun pharmaceuticals. I am convinced that I would find new layers of meaning and metaphor in Silas’ favorite book, Ten Little Ladybugs, with the help of a hefty dose of morphine. True, the loss of gross motor control might make it difficult to hold the book, or indeed my baby, but these are the challenges that lend richness and meaning to life.

And has anyone considered the worms? Gnasthostoma isn’t actually intended to hatch in human beings. They are supposed to complete their life cycle in the gut sack of a leopard, a lion, or a sea otter. They are supposed to be prowling the rainforest, the savannah, or the high seas, quietly maturing in style until such time as they are born, fully-formed worms, in a steaming pile of jungle feces. They have no interest in living in the spinal fluid of a couple of California liberals.

Gnasthostoma , in fact, are unable to fully mature in the human body. They are forced to wander around, from liver, to spine, to ocular nerve, idly snacking and wondering why they can’t grow up. Perhaps that’s why I feel the odd stab of sympathy for them. Peter and I, it would seem, are roughly at the same level of maturity as these larval worms, without much of a plan beyond travel, adventure and eating delicious food.

Take it from my mother: to avoid infection with Gnasthostoma, you should refuse to travel to Fiji. While you’re at it, you should probably avoid Australia, Mexico, Ecuador, and pretty much all of Asia.

Or, you can boil your drinking water.


  1. wow, you are an incredible writer... i've been following you two for a while now, and i must say, antonia, that your way with words has really...well...blossomed....i so look forward to following the journey...

  2. Kick ass! I was wondering when you guys were going to get back out there. Us too! At least pretty soon. Thanks for continuing to share your life with all of us. It's appreciated.

    BTW... they say that necessity is a mother. When a friend of ours ran out of bread crumbs for the cracked conch they discovered that cheese-it's make a great substitute. Those goldfish crackers would be good too. So in Mayaguana, enjoying this delicious twist on cracked conch, we did think of you. :)

    George and Kerri (of thedingydock)

  3. oh lawd here they go again! we're probably headed through the fiji later this year...we'll stop by for beers! i'll drop you an email. drew and margie

  4. You are a gifted writer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and perspective. And while I'm fairly confident all your readers are eager for your nautical exploits (as I am), the fact that you can turn a benign note from Mom warning about larval worms into something endearing is an art form. So glad you're writing again (let alone leaving the dock).

  5. New posts from the crew of Sereia! Whoo! I was going to say this would tide me over until I get out cruising again, but really, your writing about it is almost BETTER than me actually doing it ;)


  6. Peter and Antonia, been wondering how you two were doing. Of course there was no doubt you would be doing just fine. Willow made the passage from Fiji to Hilo, HI in good form, only arrived 3 weeks ago. (did get some bad water in Fiji by the way) Will be here to work for a while. Seems more reasonable than some dark, gray, cold chunck of rock somewhere. (oh, Bonnie is in Alaska for the summer, but seems in good spirits)

    I am holding things together here, working and playing and the like. Where to next for Seria? We will see you again, I am sure.