In beautifully descriptive prose that evokes both the sunlight and the shadows of life in desirable resort towns, Traveling Light follows the lives of half a dozen friends in Santa Fe and Oaxaca as they struggle to face themselves, their complicated relationships, and the consequences of chasing their dreams. Camelia Delmonico knows that glossy travel brochures don’t reflect what it’s really like to live in even the most beautiful places. Then why does she think she can create a picture-perfect life without the challenges and hardships of reality? Whether it’s in a funky old adobe in Santa Fe or a remote fishing village on a pristine stretch of undeveloped Mexican beachfront, the lure of the simple life drives Camelia and her friends into confrontation and heartache instead.
It’s dawn on a slushy Santa Fe February in 1994, and a sleepy, hungover Camelia finds herself on what she realizes too late is a fool’s errand. Over too many margaritas with her friend Melanie Sullivan the night before, she has agreed to go to the Sullivan family’s small resort in southern Mexico in search of Melanie’s teenage son Nico, who she fully expects to be with his father at the hotel. Her brief marriage and unsatisfying work life both in tatters, Camelia figures she has nothing to lose. But when she encounters her friend Luis Sabio in the Oaxaca airport while en route to the coast, her simple plan strays dramatically off course. Like the prized waves sought after by young surfers on the beaches of Oaxaca, Camelia’s presence creates more than a few ripples in the lives of everyone she encounters, especially Eric Steadman, a Santa Fe ex-pat with dark secrets and too much time (and mezcal) on his hands. Her return to Santa Fe a few days later brings little respite, as tragedy upends what little stability they all had been trying to hold on to.