Sarah Menkedick

Sarah Menkedick is the founder of Vela. She is a writer, editor, runner, and perpetual traveler who always seems to wind up in Oaxaca, Mexico. She recently graduated from the M.F.A. program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she taught creative writing. Before returning to the U.S. for graduate school, she spent six years living, teaching, and traveling abroad. She speaks fluent French and Spanish.

Her work has been published on Amazon’s Kindle Singles, World Hum, Perceptive Travel, The Common and a number of other online and print publications. Her story “The Revolution” was anthologized in The Best Women’s Travel Writing Volume 9 , and her story “The Rider’s Prayer” was a finalist for The Atavist’s Digital Storymakers Award. She was a summer 2011 intern at Harper’s and the 2012 winner of a Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant for a writer under 30. She is currently at work on a book of narrative nonfiction about return migration and the annual village fiestas in Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte. Contact her at SamMenked (at)

Stories by Sarah:

  • My Own Mexican Revolution

    I was walking back from the grocery store, loaded down with bags, when a man came up the sidewalk. I looked down and away. He leaned towards me and whispered, “F**k me.” The insistent pressure exploded. I lost it. “F**k YOU!” I shouted, and then continued, calling him a dog, a monkey, an animal, a […]–Read more

  • Homing Instincts

    There are five types of navigation, five ways to find your way home: topographic, celestial, magnetic, olfactory and true. Topographic is used by the lowest forms of life, your mollusks and your limpets. Celestial is the rarest, used by some species of birds, some species of seals, humans, and the dung beetle. Many creatures use […]–Read more

  • Waiting to Be

    Here is what waiting to be feels like. It feels like that one trilled song of a morning bird, a single note curled upwards in the stillness, and it should be poignant but you are on the Internet. Get off, get off, get off. It feels like trying to peel yourself away from Dave’s ESL […]–Read more

  • Backpackers in Paradise

    Our minibus is whisking us around flash cards of local color. The Waterfall. The Woman Walking on the Dusty Roadside. The Sulking Men on Motorbikes. The Village Store called “Christo!” The Kids Climbing a Lime Tree. The Fishermen At Ocean’s Edge. The Naked Toddler Jumping Into a Rock Pool. Then, when a massive metal seahorse […]–Read more

  • The Rider’s Prayer

    How does a human being, or an animal, become God? Through the spontaneous will of self-sacrifice, or through suffering. -Dominique Fournier Originally, the goal was to ride the bull to death. How long this took, we don’t know. Days, perhaps, of relentless bucking and lassoing, cheering and drinking, waiting and then rising to attention with […]–Read more

  • A Personal Geography of Fear

    China, 2007 The KFC outside Beijing West Train Station. People sleeping arms akimbo on tables in the crush. Migrant boys’ hipster haircuts sprawled like slaughtered hedgehogs atop the white plastic. The round faces of puffy-jacketed rural girls, soft and inscrutable in dreams. Normally, the capacity of Beijingers to sleep amidst swirling masses of humanity would […]–Read more

  • Touring the Revolution

    The green hills from which the Zapatistas descended to take San Cristóbal nearly twenty years earlier looked wet and blurred outside the windows in the rain. After the parched Oaxacan isthmus and clammy, tropical Tuxtla Guitierrez, San Cristóbal’s mountain air felt liberating, like emerging from a fever into quiet clarity. We rolled down the windows […]–Read more

  • A Year of Vela

    Today, September 6, 2012, we at Vela celebrate the first anniversary of the magazine.  There is much to come, but before we get to all of that, we offer these six short retrospectives on how and why Vela came to be and what Vela has meant to us, as writers of travel-inpsired creative nonfiction, and as writers […]–Read more

  • The Goat Slaughter

    My first thought was, I never thought blood was really so red. It looked like red paint, a Hollywood prop, thick and gloopy and nearly fluorescent. It looked so bright and alive that I struggled to believe it actually ran through human veins all the time; it seemed to possess too much energy to be […]–Read more

  • Refuge in Shroom Country

    When Ella was 14, she asked her Lutheran pastor if he believed in God. Ella’s skepticism of organized religion had been growing, and after her confirmation she decided to confront her pastor about it directly. Ella has a direct, penetrating and at times unearthly gaze. She seems to possess the capacity to see into a […]–Read more

  • A Letter to My Thirties

    Dear Thirties, You are a centrifugal force to be reckoned with: this, I concede from the outset. My twenties, inaugurated at a Madison bar with a fake ID, a naïve rapture at the eloquence of History PhD students, and nary a headache following quantities of alcohol that would now waylay me for days, have nothing […]–Read more

  • The Morning Song

    You are riding in the back of a pickup truck. You come face to face with…a chicken. It is fluorescent purple, and stuffed with candy. Its face is pert, smiling, expectant. As you come up on a slight rise you see that riding beside it is an old man, hunched down against the truck’s cab […]–Read more

  • Proof of Extreme Hardship

    I was almost there, barreling along I-54 through the valleys where the New Mexican plateau drops and the land pours a deep, scarred red around mountains and dry riverbeds. The sky was electric with light; silvered clouds drifted across patches of bright, afternoon blue. Shadows floated over the desert like fast-swimming fish. Occasionally, a cloud […]–Read more

  • Down and Out in West Texas

    We were checking in when a woman came storming out of her room to the desk and said, “There’s shit on them sheets.” The South Indian manager sighed with unmasked irritation but, true to local custom, tried to provide accommodating customer service. “We can give you a new room, m’am,” he said. “New sheets and […]–Read more

  • The Revolution

    There was an art opening at the Centro Fotográfico the Friday the federal troops came. I went out to the Hotel Victoria for piña coladas with a few friends beforehand. The hotel was empty and we had the terrace to ourselves. The city below us was an oceanic blue-green at twilight, studded with glinting orange […]–Read more

  • Written by Women

    Try this with The Best Magazine Articles Ever: Go down the list, and say out loud to yourself the gender of each writer as you go. You’ll say: man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, woman, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man, man. Try it with […]–Read more