I’ve heard that sometimes you can meet someone and feel like you’re only catching up from lost time – like you’ve actually known them your entire life. I’m not sure I can say that’s happened with a person yet, but I think I could recognize the feeling from my move to Sucre. Immediately upon returning to the city (after a brief visit in September), I began to feel comfortable. This time not like the already-known familiarity of Samaipata and the Cruceño mall. Some combination of the hilly streets, white-washed buildings, and cultural atmosphere made me feel like I’ve returned to a home from a past life. I can still feel the energy. Walking around the city, I sometimes can’t help but just grin, marvelling at my surroundings. When I’m this happy, I also become an amazingly productive human being. There have been a couple days here when I feel like a little ball of electricity, ready to leap out at any new task.
Needless to say, it is the perfect city to have spent my 21st birthday. I woke up feeling especially happy, ready to take on the world with another year under my belt. By chance, I had the opportunity to spend the day with a New York Times reporter I had just met the day before. We spent our interviews listening to descriptions of local indigenous communities and their weavings, as I occasionally stepped in to explain the more elaborate parts of the conversations or translate a precise question. After receiving his business card, I found he has an organization (traditionalculturesproject.org), where he documents traditional/indigenous cultures around the world. I even got the chance to discuss with him my current research and my desire to someday enter the field of journalism/communications. The interviews themselves provided an amazing experience to learn more about the area I’m researching and gave me a confidence boost regarding my Spanish speaking/listening skills. But even more, it was reassuring to see somebody who was able to combine so many different interests and make a job of it. What’s more: he majored in philosophy in college. So, even though I’m majoring in International Studies with a specialization in International Development and Health and pursuing minors in Spanish and Emergent Digital Practices…I could still travel around the world, photographing traditional cultures and feel like I’m making a positive impact on the world.
Ultimately, everybody wants to be happy and the definition of that is also different for everybody. While writing this post, I read a quote on Facebook (so it may be wildly inaccurate), but it rings true to my current situation: “Maybe happiness is this: not feeling that you should be somewhere else, doing something else, being someone else.” -Eric Weiner. Right now, that’s how I feel. I love where I am, what I’m doing, and what it means for who I am right now. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll be very happy to return to the United States, my family and friends, familiar food, and the ability to flush toilet paper. But let’s just say I’m glad the tourist visa I’ll have to buy in a few weeks (already?) won’t expire for another 10 years. I don’t think this is my last time in Sucre, the constitutional capital of, and most beautiful city in, Bolivia.