We're back home, settling into our digs with our new items like vinyl records from stores, vinyl records from the farm, my favorite chocolates from Brazil, musical instruments of the area, perfect penguin pitchers of Buenos Aires, and yet, weeks later, my suitcase is still packed.
From South America I brought back something that didn't fit inside of my suitcase, and that couldn't be claimed at customs as a "souvenir". But what else is a different point of view if not a souvenir of a place you've just visited? I brought back an astounding sense of humbleness. I loved the fact that in South America they don't all need the latest phones and the greatest computers, they were happy to connect with the rest of the world in whatever way that they could.
Their way of life is just so much more appreciative of the natural world than our way of life. My grandparents lived most of their lives in Manhattan, working and living their American Dream. When they retired back to Brazil, they didn't find the need to install the fanciest air conditioning system on the farm. Instead, they take advantage of the direction of the house, having the patio shaded from the afternoon sun, having windows placed just right to create the dreamiest draft through the house so it would feel cool inside while outside the sun was blooming the soybean crops. They didn't need to upgrade their kitchen to have the shiniest appliances. Instead, my grandmother wanted a simple bread oven, that would rise doughs and crisp pizzas.
The longer I have been back in the U.S. (3 or 4 weeks now?) the more I lose the humbleness I brought back with me. I'm feeling more and more like I did before I left, and I want more than nothing to have that appreciation for simplicity back. I don't want to get into the sense of self that Millenials have, but it's completely different than South America and quite distasteful the older I get. Here, we love talking about ourselves. There, it was never that. It was talk about life, history, culture, a shared enjoyment. Here it's, let me tell you about me.
We visited our parents town when we came back to gift some souvenirs and to share our travel stories. My dad used his penguin pitcher for wine that evening, my brother slipped his new wooden chimarrao key chain onto his keys, and I shared captions photo by photo with my mom. It was nice to take part in simple rituals of turning pages of an old-school photo album, to share stories over a hot dinner and a long table. Those are the kind of humble actions I want to keep.
My grandmother sent us home with some seeds to grow like a pepper plant, as well as a tree related to the passion fruit. With this beautiful weather, the seeds are in soil on our porch and some inside by the window sill. My mom even shared some plants with us, extras that sprouted in her garden like basil seeds and morning glories.
We're even attempting to propagate a cutting of a fiddle leaf fig tree that we got. It's our first time using rooting powder, which promotes root growth on cuttings from other plants, so we're hoping to have this tree grow successfully. Spring is the perfect time for it to thrive. Mornings on our porch are shaded and windy these days. Then in the afternoon, our plants soak up the sun. By dinner time, the sun has gone down and the breeze is back, making it just right to enjoy drinks or dinner out there.