Molly Beer

Molly Beer is a terrible traveler. She reads books about Africa while camping in Tibet, prepares food she learned to make in Italy in her Mexican kitchen, or writes obsessively about El Salvador while living on a rooftop in Ecuador. Worse still, she can’t pack, she suffers from motion sickness, she is terrified of volcanoes, and she once (three days into the Aldo Leopold Wilderness) tore up the map. And yet, here she is. Wherever here is.

A former contributing editor and founding member of Vela, Molly Beer’s travel writing has appeared in Salon, Guernica, and Best Women’s Travel Writing, among other publications, and has been deemed “Notable” by Best American Travel Writing. She is a former Olive B. O’Connor Fellow in Creative Writing at Colgate University. Read more about her work at

Stories by Molly:

  • Fire Ants

      In those first months living in El Salvador, had I walked down a village street and seen young men leaning against gaping doorframes, their eyes steady upon me, I would have read the wrong story. Then, I could barely speak, let alone interpret what signs I might have seen: a flash of black ink […]–Read more

  • That Spanish September

    When I graduated from college, in the spring of 2001, it seemed to me that where I situated myself, where I’d been and wherever I went next, indicated who I was. Place was like fashion, a signifier like a college sweatshirt. But place was also a passport, a record of collected stamps and visas, sure, […]–Read more

  • Map to Motherland

    This morning, Steven and I woke up late and tired because our two-year-old had been up twice in the night dreaming about scary dinosaurs and then there was an incident with a rat in our bedroom. Now, in my cold Mexican kitchen, I am “sproaching” eggs in sugar cane vinegar and picking rodent-gnawed fruit out […]–Read more

  • On Packing

    It is best to use a well-made bed or the floor, so long as you have a large, smooth, clear surface, a canvas, if you will. It is best to start early, to take your time, to mentally map out (a maze of nerves like tangled alleys, footpaths, avenues) the possibilities, the contingencies. You must […]–Read more

  • The Jackass Prize

    Clayton may be in possession of the only Ivy League degree between us, but he arrived in New Mexico without either a sleeping bag or hiking boots—he’d lost the Vasque boots our sister and I had given him a year or two earlier—and suffered for his folly that variety of derision unique to close siblings, […]–Read more

  • Who Made this Grave

    One day, in late October, my son and I left his Mexican preschool and wandered up the Calzada toward Morelia’s pink stone aqueduct. He was collecting sticks snarled with epiphytes and I was walking backwards so I could watch him—his red plaid uniform, his white-blonde hair—and yet lure him homeward. Behind him, I could see, […]–Read more

  • Wind Horses of Mustang

    “Having a horse here is like having a motorbike in the city,” Bhupendra Sherchan explained the first day we rode out together on the flanks of snow-capped Nilgiri. The day was still pleasant and autumn-like, the light white, the winds as gentle as the sheep eddies in the town’s single unpaved street, but that would […]–Read more