South and Central America: Once More, With Feeling

To describe this as a lazy Sunday would be an insult to lazy Sundays the world over. This is a catatonic Sunday; I took a stab at running 12k this morning, quit (for various understandable reasons–altitude, etc.) after 6k, and haven’t done much of anything since. Right now I’m listening to the Shine a Light soundtrack, doing some last-minute draft prep–fantasy draft #2 of 4 starts in just over an hour–and coming to grips with the fact I’ll be back in the office tomorrow. But before that, here’s a fond, final look back at the three weeks that were. These trips to Latin America are getting routine, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their capacity to surprise. For instance…

  • Rio de Janeiro: my first visit, and what a city! Our hotel was right in the Copacabana; incidentally, we spent most of our time on the beach, although we left it long enough to ascend the Sugar Loaf (but not, regrettably, to see Christ the Redeemer: weather precluded it the morning we’d planned on going), visit a self-proclaimed hippie market, and eat the best churrascaria I’ve ever had. The Copacabana was unreal; I spent a lot of the time gazing toward the Copacabana Palace and wishing I’d seen the Stones on the Copacabana in 2006. I will be back in Rio. Soon.
  • Sao Paulo: we didn’t fight this year! Incredibly how your perception of a place changes when you’re not puking your guts out. Not that I’ll ever love Sao Paulo, but it was nice leaving without a bitter taste–literally and figuratively–in my mouth.
  • Brasilia: our hotel was cool.
  • Lima: the one place we really had time to relax, which for many of us (myself included) involved the swimming pool and pisco sours. But we also visited the Incan market and the Miraflores District, where a group of us ate a delicious meal on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Our hotel was adjacent to a hundreds-year-old olive grove, where I did runs of 6k and 4k in the suffocating heat.
  • Bogota: we were there twelve hours; we flew in from Lima, visited two schools, ate at a restaurant whose name I forget, returned to the airport, and went on to Quito. It’s hard to appreciate a place when you’re there for less than half a day.
  • Quito: I love Quito. We didn’t have enough time there, what with a two-day conference and a reception at the ambassador’s residence, but it’s nice knowing I’ll be back sooner rather than later…and that there’s a new addition in the extended family to look forward to. Grace…right?
  • Caracas: my first visit to Venezuela, and I left with mixed emotions. On one hand, our Friday night out at the Juan Sebasian Bar jazz club was memorable (and yes, I learned how to salsa, and yes, there’s photographic evidence). On the other, the city’s poverty’s so overwhelming it’s hard to look beyond it. The drive from town to the airport, past flavelas practically hanging off mountainsides, was hard to take. How can we allow this kind of poverty to exist?
  • Guatemala City: the highlight of our stay in Guatemala was our visit to Antigua, the former national capital that was more-or-less wiped out by an earthquake in the 18th century and that’s now a haven for backpackers from all over the world. We needed more time; in particular, it would’ve been cool getting to hike one of the three volcanoes dotting the town’s horizon…but that’ll be for next time.
  • San Jose: as is often the case I had a great view of our hotel and the schools we visited. Even our tour wrap-up dinner was in the hotel restaurant; afterwards we retired to the pool deck, but by that point many of us (myself included…myself in particular, really) were falling asleep sitting up.

And now I’m back, still listening to Shine a Light (Mick and Christina Aguilera are ripping “Live With Me” to shreds). The travel isn’t always glamorous–fourteen flights were involved in this latest junket–but it’s seldom boring, either, and I still don’t think I take for granted the fact I get to set up my office in some really neat spots. Next up: Toronto! And Washington D.C. after that; what better place to put a coda on this latest and best travel season?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s