And I Could Have Been Watching the NFL

The clouds hung low over the Lima skyline.  I despised the clouds and the city that they were attempting to obscure.  After a solid month of sun, surf and partying, at Loki Mancora I was not happy with my current situation.

Of all the places I have left on this trip it was easiest to leave Mancora.  I loved Mancora.  Sometimes the universe smashes you in the nose and knocks you to the ground.  And sometimes it picks you up and gives you a big hug.  Mancora was a warm, sunny, rum infused hug.  But after a great month there was no doubt in my mind that I had done everything that I wanted, and much more.  It was time to move on.  As I sat on the bus leaving town vivid memories flashed through my mind, I smiled and shook my head.  I felt nothing but a profound sense of fulfillment.

The weekend in Lima had been fine. I had met up with a friend from Ecuador and also hung out with a new friend from Mancora but on this Sunday afternoon I was alone in a city that I hated.  I like being alone.  But I was bored and tired and I had just paid too much  for a mediocre meal.  After a month of highs I had finally hit a low and it hurt.  I felt hollow inside.  I wanted something but I wasn’t sure what, maybe a good wave or a friend that I had not seen a in a while or a girl or the sun or Medellin.

Without warning a thundering noise rolled across the park and collided with my ears.  It only took me a second to recognize the pulsing sound of many skillfully played drums.  Intermixed with the deep serious sound of the drums was a high-pitched whistle.  It was the perfect opposite of the drums and the sounds complimented each other beautifully.

It took all my will power not to run through traffic and over flower beds to get to the joyous racket as quickly as possible.  Within a few measures I arrived on the scene.  In the middle of the park was a theater formed by layers of stone seats descending into a concrete bowl in the ground.  All the seats were filled and the rim of the theater was surrounded by people.  At the bottom of the theater were a dozen drummers.  They all had different types of drums but they all faced the same direction.  In front of them was the leader.  He had a drum too but also a whistle.  He would play with them and then hold up his hands and drum sticks in a symbol.  After he few seconds when he was sure that his minions had seen his play calling he would blast the whistle three times with the rhythm.  On the third blast all the drummers changed to a new beat.  The drummers swayed in a basic salsa step to the music as they played.  The crow bounced and clapped to the music.  After a few songs some people in the crow could not take it anymore and they poured down the steps to the bottom of the bowl and surrounded the drummers.  They danced and clapped next to the thundering music.  Old men and beautiful young girls danced amongst the drummers.  Middle aged couples twirled to the rhythm.

The pounding drums battered my depression into oblivion.  The whistel´s shrill sound awaked my sleeping sense of wonder.  The unexpected joy made me stop missing Mancora.  All I could do was rejoice in the moment and let the happiness that I was sharing with a hundred strangers wash over me.

After months of traveling I sometimes forget where I am and what I am doing and then something amazing happens.  And it shakes me from my slumber and forces me to see the beauty around me.  Stumbling upon a spontaneous dance party on a Sunday in a park in Peru made me feel more awake and alive than I had in, well only a few days, but it still felt great.  Once again this journey had laid a glorious, unexpected gift in front of me.

I am not sitting by waiting for things to happen like I once did or I was once forced to do.  I am moving and sweating and trying.  I am putting myself out there and making myself vulnerable and reaping the rewards and paying the price.  I am here.  My eyes and my mind are always open.  I am searching and on days like Sunday I am discovering.

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