"Not all who wander are aimless. Especially not those who seek truth beyond tradition, beyond definition, beyond the image."

Sunday, August 16

The Urubamba weekly market bustles with life in front of me. Women amble past-- holding babies wrapped in bright, colorful mantas on their backs while also toting heavy bags of corn or potatoes. Men driving mototaxies down the narrow, well-swept streets use their horns to indicate their approach and I watch as the steady stream of people calmly and casually part, allowing just enough space for the moto to pass. Children scamper past me on mud-stained bare feet, giggling and playing in their brightly colored clothing.  Their wind-and-sun-burned cheeks glow a rosy-red and their laughs fill the space between us. Piles of produce line the street and people are busy buying, selling, and exchanging goods. Some things I recognize--potatoes (but only a few of the 4,ooo varieties they grow in Peru!), corn, garlic, cabbage--but some things are foreign to my curious eyes. Most locals are unphased by my presence, others are amused or equally curious. They smile, laugh, wave me closer. With my wide-angle view, it's clear to see that I'm far from home. It's easy to spot the differences--to feel,...foreign. But, when I slow down, sit, and zoom in, I'm reminded of the humanness that connects us--the minuscule details that defy culture, language, and location. For a few moments I allow myself to get lost in these details. I stroll back through the Plaza de Armas and notice a boy kicking around the futbol. I motion for him to pass it to my feet--which he does without hesitation. We continue to play, allowing the common language to unite us. The universal language of soccer has allowed me to communicate in so many different countries and Peru proves to be no different. As I say goodbye to my new soccer friend, I notice a funeral procession moving towards the church. All attendees are dressed in black and they take turns adorning the casket with beautiful flowers. Musicians lead the way and all have an aura of utmost respect. The pain and feeling of loss is evident in those present. I take a moment of silence and am again reminded of the humanness that connects us. Back in the Plaza, a small child, uneasy on his feet, waddles back and forth in chase of a pigeon. As I watch his out-stretched arms zig-zag around the plaza in sheer determination, I feel myself giggling from the inside out. His dad and I are able to communicate through our shared amusement. Slowly, I'm forgetting where I am. Am failing to see the differences or feel the foreignness.  Language and cultural barriers are temporarily set aside because, as it turns out, I speak the language of futbol, and funerals (grieving), and children. I love these moments. Time and time again I find that when I slow down, look closely, and open my heart, I notice that the differences that make all these countries, cultures, languages, and people unique, are made even more beautiful by the small things that connect and unite us. I revel in these small things and love the however-brief feeling of interconnected-ness.

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