I woke up early this morning and ate breakfast with some new friends from last night and some others I haven’t met yet as well. There are some folks from New York City who had just been to Torres del Paine in Patagonia, where I will be in less than three weeks. The couple said they got soaked the whole time and we talked dryness strategies and trekking stories. I think the strategy is to be prepared with lots of rain gear and even more patience. Then I spoke with Brit some more about her medical school experience and her husband’s cancer research and Ph.D. program and about life in general, immediate gratification versus long-term career goals and weighing the merits of each. She has spent 11 years in school and gave me some input about my search for a writing job that I enjoy, finding some balance between fun and hard work and about tough work/life choices. We talked about our friends back home and how there is a deeper connection between lifelong friends even though everyone takes very different paths through life.
Then I met a black/Latino guy about my age from Atlanta who works with a nonprofit in public schools to help get the students access to new technology. I noted how fucked Richmond schools are, with a relatively small and poor tax base and a lot of underprivileged students in shitty, crumbling buildings without the proper resources.
“That’s a real national trend and a problem in cities everywhere,” Enthondo sympathized.
I feel lucky to have grown up in a public school system that had a lot of community support and some fantastic teachers that dedicated themselves to our education. It’s incredible how much personal effort goes into everything — and these teachers are sacrificing their lives so that their students might live a better life. Truly inspirational to me now. As a child I took it all for granted and assumed that everyone had the same experiences more or less but I see now that couldn’t be further from the truth. I remind myself to be grateful every day for the opportunities I’ve been handed.
Enthondo and his friends are heading back to the states tomorrow. He is traveling with a girl from Austin and we talked about all the awesome live music and festivals in Austin and I know for sure that I need to make it to that city sometime.
“It’s already changed so much since I grew up there though,” she said. She lives in D.C. now and works for the Department of Education so we chatted about capital culture and what else but the Washington Nationals!
I ate a pepino and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen or heard of this small palm-sized melon. The bitter, inedible skin is orange and green with a small pocket of seeds buried in the not-too-sweet flesh. It tastes like a cantaloupe or honeydew and I quite liked it. Coffee here is instant and breakfast is bread with jam and butter, eggs, fruit and tea. I’ve been a terrible vegan this trip but that’s okay I think…I have been getting by and still haven’t eaten any meat so I feel good about that. I’ll do my Hail Marys or whatever it takes to purify my vegan soul agin after I leave this delicious and fattening town.
I’m ready for anything today but not quite sure what it is yet, maybe not much other than just relaxing and reading and writing and blogging. Brit leaves in a whirlwind hugging everyone and as she clamors out the door she looks at me and yells “Find your path, you got it!”
My heart is warmed and I am encouraged. It’s almost 1p.m. and I still haven’t done anything but eat breakfast and lounge around in my awesome Peruvian hippy pants and work on catching up with this blog. But I think I’m ready to go out into the world now!
I walked around the neighborhoods of this incredible city looking at street art and smelling the small cafes and looking in the countless little shops and apartments where artists sell their prints and crafts. This place is incredible, I almost can’t believe it’s real. After a few hours and a few miles I found some food to eat and made it back home to the hostel and passed out in a pile on my bed. Now as the sun is about to set I find myself wishing there were more hours in the day but I will relax and my cook myself dinner and then maybe sit on the rooftop of the hostel and enjoy the sunset.
I’m the worst — regretlessly devouring the most amazing vegetable and cheese empanada from the shop across the street from our hostel. The perfectly golden fried dough makes my mouth water just thinking about it. It was bubbly and flaky and salty and fell apart and stretched with chew impossibly at the same time. I need to try and make this when I get home!
Yeah, this city is ‘good as’ is what Hillary the Australian would exclaim. It’s a little overwhelming after so long in the mountains and I don’t have many words left to describe this place so here are some pictures to try and let this colorful and magical city speak for itself…
See you tomorrow!