Our second night in Arequipa was, for me, one of those perfect nights when everything seems to fall effortlessly into place. After a day spent seeing a frozen mummy at the Sanctuary Museum (literally, on ice), visiting the gorgeous Santa Catalina Monastery, and drinking Pisco Sours on a rooftop above Plaza de Armas at sundown, we were all ready for a relaxed evening.
Reunited with Sheila & Owain (and their Irish friend, Maeve), we all decided to cook dinner at our hostel in hopes of pinching some pennies (especially in light of the prior evening’s delicious, budget-busting $19 dinner at Zig Zag). Master chef Owain whipped up a delicious, sinus-clearing, and vegetable-rich meal in the hostel's kitchen (spicy, I would learn in the weeks to come, was Owain’s specialty) while I made reservations for our upcoming treks to Machu Picchu, and then we all talked for hours. Like 5 hours. We covered the basics—the American election and how Donald Trump would soon be nothing more than an embarrassing memory (if only I had known…), our family rosters, what we'd hoped to get out of our travels—and then dove into topics we were passionate about: the merits of urban farming, the challenges of social work, the conflict of wanting and not wanting stability, the ever-elusive definition of "home."
It was just one of those moments when you realize that, when these people are gone, you’re really going to miss them. And you’re so grateful you have them in your life right now and want to hold on to the moment so tightly that it doesn’t slip through your fingers.
Arequipa was, for me, a turning point on this adventure. During my first week abroad, I had questioned why I had decided to take such a big gamble on this around-the-world trip—whether I would, indeed, "find myself" on a journey so aimless in nature.
But two dinners later, any such concerns seemed to have evaporated. I had a sudden feeling that I was a part of something greater, something that I both did and did not know I had been looking for. And I really loved it.