as we meander through the cobblestone streets in Peru and rakesh scolds me any time i am on my phone, i relish the feeling of stepping into this place. corn is sold in baskets, eggs are sold in stacks, and in the bustle of 11pm there are hot bowls of soup and skewers of beef and potatoes for sale. the sun peeks in and out of the clouds, and the mountains cradle the city lovingly as it has since the beginning of time.

i believe in the colors, the woven craft. i believe in smaller cars, in rice and chicken. i believe in the curious eyes and the dogs fighting over meat stuck to bone. the older women carrying babies on their backs and breasts. holding hands to cross the streets. the yelling of agony and extreme enthusiasm during soccer matches. the celebrations of tradition. the children being children, and yes, loving dirt.

i theorize about their stories. and when i am lucky, they tell them to me.

the cold wakes up something inside of me, and yes, this is what it is to be alive.

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