After five months in the same city – Montevideo, Uruguay, I’m now five days out on the world trail again in Lima, Peru; preparing to re-explore the Andes. I’m staying in PuriWasi Hostel, climbing 36 steps merely to access the main floor and then another 24, to achieve the rooftop terrace, where breakfast is served…. and Happy Hour, too; should I choose to attend.
I sleep in a very comfortable, lower bunk bed within an 8-bed mixed dorm, behind a light-blocking screen made up of sarongs, jackets and towels, tucked under the upper mattress, as I usually do. The bathroom is a way down the hall. This is a quiet hostel in a quiet city. It’s very comfortable here.
I still make friends as easily as I ever have. Last night, I went to Haiti (the restaurant’s name) with two guys from Brooklyn, one of whom had just finished building a skateboard park in Bolivia.
I breakfasted with a French Astrophysicist, A British English Language Professor, and a Danish medical graduate student. Everyone has a fascinating story, like the Argentine student just off the Trans-Siberian Express. I slide into this life effortlessly. But, I did have one new experience: a local proposed to me! A lonely widower urged me to settle down here with him. Needless to say….
I slide into this traveling life effortlessly. Tomorrow, I’ll be crossing the Andes in a bus; the Astrophysicist will be deep in the Amazon in Iquitos; and the guys I had dinner with last night will be back in the asphalt jungles of New York City. And Manny… will still be looking for the Right Woman!
And yet, none of us rush through friendship. Long, slow conversations are possible; comparing notes on countries and comparing travel plans; as if they are beaded necklaces placed side by side. I’ve just been where they are going and vice versa. This is a natural life and it networks along, effortlessly, here in the hostels of the world. As I suppose it always has.
Trade routes and desert caravans; stagecoach inns and boarding houses have long existed. But, back then, it was simply a profession that admitted one to their grungy halls. Always male; mostly young and strong. Certainly, no one like me! Nowadays though, the nomadic heart is younger than ever; but it’s still casually persistent and unapologetic. It grabs the graduate student, after or during their pricey education. It delays marriage and childbirth among the eligible for that. Many couples find it easy to have it all; traveling together, savoring whole countries as their home. It skims the cream off of settled life and I’m testament to the fact that this is no mere summer storm. This is a profession! All else adapts!
And yet… it is still only the corridor to some Region Yet Unfound! Maybe that’s what it takes to calm the restless heart?