This day was a year in the making, and it was worth the wait.
For two months, at least, D has been trying in vain to corral his thoughts into a vaguely coherent blog post dedicated to old Soviet cartoons, which remain the brightest memory of his childhood. Not only have words failed him thus far, but also each attempt at penning his thoughts has ended with D spending an hour in front of his computer screen, watching classic multiki. They are that good!
D’s grandfather was an avid photographer. He purchased his first camera in the postwar years and always dreamed of living in an apartment that would be big enough to house a small darkroom. This dream, crushed by the realities of life in Soviet Russia, never came to fruition, but this did not stop D’s grandfather from faithfully chronicling his family through the years.
Munchkin returned from America a changed little man. Many of his antics are not entirely new, but even those behaviors that he had started to exhibit in the weeks before we went home have acquired a quality of mastery they had lacked before. In the words of his nanny, he returned a more “compact and complete” child.
Arriving in America a couple of months shy of his tenth birthday left D in a cultural no man’s land. Had he reached adolescence in Russia before immigrating, he likely would have felt a strong urge to hold onto his Russian heritage. On the other hand, had his family made the move a few years earlier, he happily would have shed the vestiges of his brief Slavic upbringing in favor of a thorough Americanization. As it happened, he felt both instincts tugging him in opposite directions, though not always with equal force.
Although we traversed more or less the same path through the northern Andes, our routes began to diverge in Bolivia. S headed to Patagonia, exploring parts of Chile and Argentina along the way, while D crossed eastward, going through Paraguay en route to Buenos Aires. As a result, while we still visited many of the same places in Bolivia, there is a lot less overlap in the photographs from our two trips.
Peru does most things on a grander scale than Ecuador — the country is bigger, its Amazon region is vaster, and the mountains are more imposing. Whereas Ecuador has several gorgeous peaks, they all stand alone, towering in their snow-capped solitude above the rest of the terrain. Peru, on the other hand, boasts multiple massifs and entire mountain chains. We both developed a love for the Andes in Ecuador; in Peru, that love blossomed.
Despite plenty of practice over Munchkin’s first year of life, S dreaded our current trip stateside. With the possible exception of her first trip overseas with Munchkin when he was just 7 weeks old, she had not experienced this acute a level of pre-departure stress. Munchkin had just started taking his first independent steps when we last took him on an airplane, and we had a rough time on the flights. That trip was to Lisbon — a four-and-a-half-hour non-stop flight for vacation. This time, not only did we intend to take Munchkin on a much longer flight, but we also took advantage of the trip home to bring our dog back to the United States, which added several layers of travel anxiety to the mix.