Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Baltimore Daydreaming

Being back in Baltimore - it's like a strange daydream.  Driving down 83, walking along the Avenue in Hampden, sitting on the back porch at our friend's house listening to the crickets...  It's like we almost never left, or we've returned at the point we initially embarked, except that we've crossed over into a strange, slightly altered version of this city and American life.

Being back has its perks.  You never know what you're going to miss when you travel until you get there, and travelling reminds you of what's important in your non-travelling life.  Family and friends, most obviously - just being able to go out to chat over coffee, or make a phone call that doesn't have to cross continents.  City streets that you're familiar with.  Tap water that you can drink with impunity.  No roosters cock-a-doodle-doing at all kinds of nighttime hours.  Availability of cream cheese, jalapeños, hot sauce, tofu, fake meat products, hearty bread...

Quito - City as Seen from Yaku Museo del Agua #1
View of Quito - as seen from the Yaku Museo del Agua

At the same time, there are so many wonderful people you meet, so many beautiful things you see, so many ideas you're exposed to, cultures that you learn, from travelling.  Being back in Baltimore is, in this regard, odd.  I don't have to try to think and speak in Spanish anymore.  I can't look out the window and see 20,000-foot high volcanoes soaring into the clouds along the Andes.  All the birds around here are familiar - no frigate birds, no parrots.  And there are no sun-soaked, wrinkled Quechua wandering around still wearing traditional garb (felt hats, layered skirts for the women...) that was forced upon them some 500 years ago during the Spanish conquest.  Not to mention the fruit - so many kinds of fresh fruit, at such a low price, ranging from the standard bananas and mangoes to the marvelous achotillo and granadilla and an overabundance of avocados.

It seems impossible that three days ago we were wandering around Quito, through the vendors at El Ejido park, along the streets of the Mariscal, up the hillside to the Yaku Museo del Agua...  Now it's Lake Montebello, the inner harbor, the Waverly Farmers Market, rowhouses...

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