This weekend we drove out of town and through the mountains to the nature preserve on the Ruta Sierra Juarez near the community of Santa Catarina Ixtepeji. The cost to enter the preserve is just 20 pesos a person (about $1/person) and the money helps maintain the area. It's an incredibly healthy forrest with tons of plants and wildlife. At the gate the park ranger motioned to a guy standing next to her and asked us "podria dale un paseo?" and we said "por supuesto!" We can give him a ride, no problem. So that's how we met Pedro. We chatted for 15 minutes about Oaxaca, his family, where we were from...the usual, then dropped him off to meet some of his friends and continued on our way to find the Cabeza de Vaca trail in the cloud forrest.
Ever since reading the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orleans, I've had a major crush on these little guys. It always seems like such a tragedy to find them for sale in supermarkets, dyed unnatural colors only to wither quickly outside of their preferred environment. I've always thought of orchids as very delicate flowers, and in a way they are - they require very specific and careful attention. But here, in this humid yet somewhat cool environment they totally flourish.
To actually walk down a path in the woods where orchids and bromeliads were healthily growing on trees was such a cool experience. I loved to see them in the wild, right where they belong.
The last two weeks have been chaotic to say the least. We've spent a good amount of time sleeping on air mattresses and sofa beds, hanging out with Spencer's family in California during a tough period of time. We parted ways (for the first time in four months - a crazy realization) as I headed to Colorado for work and Spencer made his way back to Oaxaca to reunite with Monet and pick up where he left off with making the most of the mountain biking in the area.
Being back in the States was a little bit wild. "Culture shock" isn't really the right word to describe being back, but I certainly noticed a lot of things that I never would have thought of before spending time in Mexico. First of all, everything is so organized and brightly-lit. It's all so clean. When you're driving, people stay in their lanes (they don't try to create a new one) and they mostly go the speed limit. It's all very uniformed and proper. Heading back over the hill into Boulder, I realized that it might be one of the most beautiful towns in the world. Really, I love it there. But I also don't want to live there anymore. At least for now. I was very happy to see everyone that I care about, sing some karaoke, and find the shampoo I like on sale, but we're not there anymore. We're here. And that's a good thing.
I've always had a secret love of walking around neighborhoods at night and looking into peoples' windows to see what's going on. I know, it sounds creepy but it's driven from harmless curiosity and a need to know - what are people doing? Are they helping their kids with homework? Are they reading a book? Or making dinner? Or watching TV, or talking, or doing an art project, or redecorating their living room? I think that this knowledge makes me feel more connected to humanity and it makes me feel like the world is a normal and peaceful place, even though in many parts of the globe that's not the case. There is something very comforting about a light on in the kitchen and some one reading a magazine on the couch, that feels like a home.
And while we're more random and uprooted in our travels this year, moving to a new place every month or so, the word "home" has become more pronounced and important than before. A double rainbow - what does it mean!? I think it means a place where you are very, very happy.