Every day, we make choices about how we’re going to approach our lives. People, myself included, tend to want to make decisions based on comfort, and we rationalize our decisions within a negative frame rather than a positive one.
For example: “Should I get off my laptop and go out for a walk, even though I’m exhausted and feel really lousy about how my Spanish has been going?” is a much more familiar thought than “I’m going to get off my laptop and go explore this beautiful, intimidating new city even though it would be really easy to just lie around in my room all day.”
See what I mean? Traveling in particular seems to bring out the hermit in me, which I know might surprise some people, but it’s true. It’s as if the adrenaline that coursed through me throughout the lead-up and actual journey to said destination makes my brain crash and suddenly I don’t want to see anyone or do anything. So, I’m constantly training myself to respond to what I consider a human tendency to frame things negatively with a more positive frame–not necessarily rainbows and roses but a step out of Eeyore-ville.
Two days ago, at 3:02 P.M., this step led me past the doorway of a FREE walking tour of downtown Arequipa that was about to depart (did I mention it was free? They’re also offered in English and Spanish!). The tour would take 2.5 hours, and I had absolutely nothing to do but while away the day. Usually I’m not really one for guided anything–I tend to space out when the group leader is talking and wind up bored because I don’t know what’s going on when I finally do tune in. That was so not the case on this tour, though. Our guide, Yohan, was passionate about both the city and teaching us about it–I never once got the sense that this was just another job to him. He drew us around the city and into his stories, and the longer we were with him, the more relaxed and comfortable our group of strangers became.
We learned about the subtle, rebellious engravings etched hundreds of years ago by indigenous people onto the churches that colonialists forced on them, the true origin of the nickname “The White City,” the names El Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Pichu, that queso helado doesn’t actually have anything to do with cheese, why vicuña wool is so expensive, and that real pisco sours are made with egg whites, to name just a few things. Then, at the end of the tour, we all took a shot of pisco sour, on the house, at The Kiwi Corner.
And to think I almost stayed in my room.