–“What makes you happy, Victoria?” Gallo asked me curiously.

–“Well anything, really….I like to savor different foods, I like to marvel at the constellations and stars twinkling in the sky. The comets and the planets. Fireplaces and candles. Being around old friends, or new acquaintances. The smell of fresh pine wood. Concerts. California coastline. Very fond of laughing and jokes. Irony. I like to imagine things for the future, and then make it happen. The proud feeling of accomplishment and achieving difficult goals. Exceeding expectations. Swiss Miss. A very good book. My favorite songs and music videos. Collecting things. Hiking. My dog. I don’t know, sometimes I am child-like. Spirituality and faith…”

“And what do you believe in…? And how does that affect your experience of all these places, there are many Muslims in China right?”

–“Well I’m Christian, but I guess there’s a distinction between spirituality and religion for me, it’s almost as different and yet the same as what we consider the mind and the brain. Religion-wise, it helps me live on earth with a certain set of rules, but having faith, I often go into a mosque or a Buddhist temple and profoundly experience divinity and God through them, even if I don’t believe the details of what they say. The religious side of me isn’t always comfortable in a Mayan ceremony at first, but once you get over the formalities, their prayer is renovating and you see God in that.”

…We talked until 2:37am and had many cups of chai and hot chocolate. It was the first time I’ve seen Cesar since he went to Mérida and in the meantime he had suffered a bloody accident with a minor concussion, and now he was painfully finishing his dinner. “It’s so hard to put a finger on who you are, you are an absolute mixture of Asian, North American and even Latino cultures, your Spanish doesn’t even have a particular accent,” and he proceeded to ask me about places I had been in the world.

Hmm, I said pensively thinking of the many places in the world that I loved: Chiapas/Guatemala is among my favorite places on earth to live, and that if I ever had children, I’d probably spend winters wanting them to learn Spanish between here and the Andean mountainous parts of Peru and exploring the Maya/Inca indigenous culture that remained. Summers spent in Manchuria, especially in Heilongjiang, for its forested beauty and its fascinating cultural blend of Chinese, Russian, Japanese and Korean influences—(it’s lame when the multiple languages people speak are all Western European.) There is a strong affection and passion for northern Brazil, Salvador da Bahia has such a fascinating blend of West African candomblé and very good food but I dislike humidity. Just for my fascination of Arabic influences, probably Morocco and Algeria too. I like regions where people are honest and giving, and I suppose the other determining factor is culinary expertise.

The next day a couple from Bristol, England came to visit. Once again, we began the conversation of my life… my studies… my motivation… the company…working in different parts of the world, and they lingered late until midnight. And I was happy.