Back to reality

I’m back on the wagon. I was off for some days as I thought I could write while still on my little recorrido of Peru, but I decided that I needed that time to just be present with other things and be in the moment with revisiting the Southland. So, here goes again…I’ll make up for lost time and just write into February as my blog per day…

Today, the 25th of January, it has been a month since I left the Bay Area to go on a little escapade. Now I am back. Trying to re-integrate everything it is that I learned and I experienced. Let me tell you a little about this experience…

Yesterday I was happy that it was my roommate’s day off so we jumped in the car, floated across the Richmond bridge (figuratively speaking of course as we were on the pavement part of the bridge, but it did feel like floating all the same), and up the 101 to land in Marin for a little hike. In California, whilst I was gone, the rain has come down non-stop and on the radio I have heard that we are no longer in a drought, so I guess there has been some good news during this tumultuous time of changing the hands of power. As we made our way into the Tennessee Valley and were approaching the Pacific I felt a sense of calm come over me and it felt like the perfect end to a trip.

For Christmas I made my way to Denver to see my parents and sister. I always like going to Colorado but the plains, the wind, the dryness, and the flightiness of the people there tends to leave me chapped and feeling like a tumbleweed at the end of my time. On New Years day I made my way to Quito to visit my brother and family (namely Deli and Aliyah). It was good to see them after a year and a half of Whatsapp and Skype. When you live far away from family, as I have for the last decade, you start from zero but you also start from wherever you left off. It’s like an awkward but very familiar encounter each time.

Then, I made my way to Peru to explore a country I had never been to before. While in Peru I came to realize that the Andean people are extremely friendly, down-to-earth, and very economically driven. They have no qualms in striking up a conversation with you and like to get to know new people in a very informal way. At the same time, everything has a price and many people that I encountered were very concerned about where there next soles were coming from and if they were going to be coming from my (the wealthy tourist’s) pocket. As a person that isn’t necessarily money-driven this came as a bit of a shock. At the same time, I come from a country that is capitalist in nature and the reason it keeps on going is because the monetary engine that drives it. Of course, our economy is a bit more structured and integrated into the daily fabric of everything. In Peru, everyone is trying to get their piece of the pie and sometimes these pieces overlap and I am sure that this leads to distrust in one another and to competition between friends and neighbors. I could talk about a particular woman who owns a hostal just south of Peru who talked to me at length about just that, but I will save that for another post.

Today I just wanted to briefly discuss how it is we integrate our experiences away from home into our lives. I will venture to say that most people go on vacation and then come back and try to go back to their daily rhythms and routines. Might this be you? They dream of the beach they were on a, reminisce over all the pictures they took, and use some of what they learned about a culture, country, state, or people, in conversation at the next dinner party or happy hour. There’s another category of people that like to integrate what they have learned and experienced into the very fabric of their beings. This is the person that I am. Sometimes this takes time, because you have to process the things you witnessed or were part of and see how you can really make sure they can come into your life in a meaningful and poignant way. If not, yes, you risk culturally appropriating and the like.

For example, one of the things that I hope to do in the upcoming weeks and months is to cook some of the dishes that I most enjoyed during my time in Ecuador and Peru. Some of these dishes include sopa de quinoa (a simple quinoa soup with vegetables in a light veggie broth), salteñas (a kind of empanadas that have a sweet doughy taste to them normally made with ground beef and veggies and is a mix between sweet and savory), ají (a spice that is put on almost anything in both Peru and Ecuador, and uses different hot peppers and other spices to make a great accompaniment to whatever you have on your dinner table. I’ll just start with those three and then go from there.

Other than the food I’d like to continue to eat, one of the reasons I love going to the South is because I love the cadence of life there. It is not pressured or hurried, it is tranquil and at-your-own-pace. Sometimes this can prove to be irritating or annoying if you have somewhere to be, but really, I think it’s a good reminder that humans are not machines and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Another aspect of this travel that I’d like to take with me in my everyday life is best said in a quote by Walt Disney, who, by the way, I never thought I would be quoting:

“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”

It seemed like everyone I saw had a job that they were doing and they were proud of the fact that they were doing it well. They didn’t have there brain off in some unknown place thinking of all the other things they could be doing. Don’t get me wrong, Peru was full of entrepreneurs, but they were focused on doing what they did well in the moment without too much concern for the future. I loved this sense of presence and of being in the moment. Something that I have been working on during the whole of 2016 and something that I will probably be working on the rest of my life.

These are just a few of the things that I will be trying to integrate into my Californian life. I’m curious, what to do you do at the end of your vacation? Do you compartmentalize pleasure and day-to-day life, or do you try to have the two worlds meet? Or maybe there is a whole other category out there worth creating…


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