hiking peru 2008
hiking peru 2008

I’m trying to pack for Peru. But if you’ve ever traveled with me, you know my packing is like a ten hour mess, no matter what. I start by getting distracted by making a playlist for my iPod, end up curating a magical list of Celine Dion’s greatest videos to help inspire me, get thrown off course by the inevitable cleaning and reorganizing that seems to come with packing, find a book I’d thought I’d lost and start reading it, put on a headband fashion show for Snapchat, end up writing a blog, etc.

The last time I went to Peru, it was December 2008. Two friends and I were wrapping up a few months backpacking in Central America with Machu Picchu and some Peruvian explorations. We saw llamas, I got wild altitude sickness (read about that fun here), experienced the physical and spiritual journey of a lifetime.

My own sweet niece. babyness. I learned how to Flipcam with her. Remember those?
My own sweet niece. I learned how to Flipcam with her. Remember those?

I moved back to California and mooched off my parents, jobless except for watching my sister’s puppy. I lived in sweat pants and wondered why I’d ever left South America.

I will never forget seeing this for the first time.
I will never forget seeing this for the first time.

A few months later, with a lot of charm and enthusiasm and prayer, I managed to get hired as a junior high Latin and Spanish and Drama teacher. There was also that part where I hadz ero teaching experience and didn’t know Latin. But I figured that out eventually. The drama came naturally. (you’re shocked, I know.)

Fast-forward a few years and, ironically, after spending a long weekend watching some puppies in a beautiful home I could never afford, I’m headed to Peru tomorrow as an English teacher from an international school in Brazil to take part in an educator’s conference. I find myself salivating over titles with words like “effective differentiated vocabulary instruction” and “formative assessment” and “Looking for and Improving Learning through Teacher Coaching on Data Use and Effective Instructional Practices.”

happiness is a lapful of puppies!
happiness is a lapful of puppies!

It was so relaxing to stay in a real home for a few days. A family from our school was traveling and Leana and I stepped up to act as garbage disposals and help them clean out their shelves watch the dogs. A real home with like furniture. And a pantry where I destroyed four Poptarts before I even realized what I was doing, a working fridge and oven and stove, a TV, a balcony with a view where I could drink my coffee and pretend to be fabulous.

But the best part was the dogs. I understand more and more how a dog can save a life. To wake up to their happiness, to barely be able to walk or use the bathroon or sit without their love pouring out at you was the loveliest thing. Of course, they also pee and poop everywhere and ate my phone case and my shoes. But CUTE.

waiting patiently for the elevator while auntie rachie sips rosé.
waiting patiently for the elevator while auntie rachie sips rosé.

At one point, stirring spaghetti on the stove, wine (in a real glass!) in one hand, puppies watching me through the gate, Fleetwood Mac blaring, I texted my mom asking “could this have been my life if I’d taken a different turn?” She said “yes. stop being so picky.”

Ha. Well. Trying to adult. Packing for the conference, excited about the chance to have a weekend with a dear friend, to get motivated about my job at a time I desperately need it, and I’m not embarrassed to say that a part of me hopes there are some academic hotties at this conference. A curling iron may have made its way into my suitcase. I untangled a necklace. Must always be ready for a meet-cute.

if we set up a frenchie/goat instagram, I can stop being weird and trolling my mom's dog.
if we set up a frenchie/goat/alpaca instagram, I can stop being weird and trolling my mom’s dog.

Ideally he is tall and has a beard and also shares my dream of teaching internationally for a few more years before settling down to live in a micro-house on a large property, where we run our instagram-famous french bulldog slash goat slash alpaca rescue farm. We’ll have a small hipster wedding-ready barn with mason jars a plenty in the backyard to run as a side business. Brew our own kombucha and kefir. Spend our days fostering troubled kids and our nights running a coffee shop slash wine bar with karaoke Thursdays and themed parties.

I’m just brainstorming here. Nothing too specific.

Anyway, the curling iron, scarves and boots (I’m ambitious about colder weather – it’s currently mid-70s in Lima, which is a full 15-20 degrees cooler than Rio) are packed. I tried to pull out my fancy computer satchel,to use instead of my Northface, in the interest of adulting. But discovered oozing mass of melted candy at the bottom of it from the last time I used it, prob two years ago, so. Backpack it is!

It’s almost my birthday. That makes me a bit more reflective and melancholy than usual. Makes me a little anxious. Flying makes me very anxious, and I have to do that alone for quite a few hours tomorrow. Realizing that I am really only halfway through my time here in Brazil, that I am picking up a

llama face
llama face

piece of permanent identification from the Federal Police tomorrow makes me anxious. The never-ending stream of engagement/wedding/baby/house-buying announcements makes me anxious. Especially when my biggest hope for the week is to get another selfie with a llama.

I’m combatting these feelings of weird by listening to Adam Ant and watching videos of cats. Found this gem of one riding a sled like a member of the Cool Runnings dream team. So check that out, if you need to.

IMG_9456And if you haven’t and you need to hear it today . . . I live in Brazil and you’re all invited. I may not know what I’m doing with my life, but at least I don’t know about it here.

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