A Quiet Wander

When we had finished meeting with the client last week, we sat around the hotel lobby comparing notes, happy to be together – the perils of working from home – and yet too exhausted to have productive conversations.

Finally my colleague said, “Let’s go for a walk.”

We quickly changed into jeans and found our way from the lobby to the pool deck to a path to a gate to the promenade beside the river. Our hotel had been recommended by locals and had an amazing breakfast buffet – far too many things that I couldn’t eat, supplemented by a selection of fresh fruit and way too tempting pastries – and incredibly friendly service. The lobby was beautiful, the rooms one step below a busy Marriott Courtyard in need of a remodel, the TVs never got reception, and the wi-fi was problematic, and the exterior glass elevators have the best sunrise view of the mountains. As it turns out, it’s not the only hotel in town, and there are several, newer, business-oriented hotels that better fit our client’s travel policy; so this would be our last stay here. Before leaving for the office in the morning and before leaving for dinner in the evening, I had gazed at the riverfront promenade from the balcony in my room; so his suggestion made a V-8 slap sort of sense.

This is the same promenade that was so badly flooded on my last visit and I was impressed by how quickly the city had cleaned it up. There were a few places on our side of the river where dirt still pooled on the path and where trees had been sliced into rounds, ready for pick-up. We wandered past the tiny stands selling homemade empanadas, flavored nuts, and pork rind crisps.

The walk was busy with people strolling home from school and work. Teenagers flirted under the trees. Mothers and daughters sat on benches, chatting and sharing ice cream. A bicycle stand down by the river did a brisk business in bikes, tandems, and the four-wheeled bicycle carriages, the kind where you sit beside your partner, and pedal together, and your children or friends ride on seats in front of you, all under an awning. Tempted, we inquired at the prices but we were out of pesos and they couldn’t accept U.S. money.

We wandered across the pedestrian bridge, ventured down to the path along the other side of the river, which had not recovered as well. We spied a green iguana sprinting up a tree, tried to take his picture, failed to capture his speed. We read a sign that said that green iguanas are protected, that they eat insects – on this side of the river, they must have had a daily feast – and fruit. We checked out some political graffiti – as a New Yorker, I’m a graffiti enthusiast and Latin America puts the U.S. to shame. Then, fleeing the enthusiastic insect population, we returned to street level and crossed back over the river on another bridge, this one with a gently spiraling pedestrian offramp that was a work of art.

Strolling past the entrance to the hotel we walked down to the mall that opened onto the promenade, checked out the retail scene – some U.S. companies, but many unfamiliar to us – and finished up by tasting some local fare at the food court. Well, he had a plate of rice, beans, and stew; I had frozen yogurt. They did have vegetarian fare – spaghetti with a pepper and cream pesto – but I needed something lighter.

We wandered back to the hotel through the soft evening air and had a beer in the lobby bar, talked about what to do next with the project, solved world peace. Then realized that I’d need to catch an Uber at 4 a.m. to get to my 6 a.m. flight. Ah, back to the grind.

It was a quiet moment in a busy week. The kind of moment that recharges you.

Take them where you find them.

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