I had plans for my time back in the states. I planned to be super productive. I had a to-do list already made. I was going to plan out a bunch of lessons in advance, print out a bunch of materials, and prepare all kinds of things so that when I got back to Colombia, I wouldn’t have to worry about it.
What I actually did was watch a lot of Netflix and eat a lot of food. Which is productive in it’s own way. I guess.
I did have a great time at home, though. Transition times between the random things I do with my life are always fun times. I can go where I want and do what I want. There’s always a good amount of time spent at my brother and sister-in-law’s house, and we’ve settled into a fun routine of making yummy foods and cocktails, watching KU basketball and the Real Housewives, and of course getting completely crushed playing Super Mario Bros with my nephew.
I also got to be reunited with me dog, Macy, for the few weeks that I was back home.
I got to spend some time with my grandparents, see a few friends, and enjoy the abundance of peanut butter.
After a few weeks in South Dakota, I roadtripped down to Georgia to stay with my sister and brother-in-law. My first stop along the way was in Lincoln, NE, where I got to spend some quality time with my sister-from-another-mister, Abby. We drank margs at my old favorite, La Mexicana. We ate at a delicious new Ramen Bar that I’m glad didn’t exist when I was going to college there, because I wo uld have spent all my money eating there all the time. We went on a grocery run to Super Saver at midnight for a tub of ice cream because it would really complement the 3 different types of gluten free cookies that we made. I’m trying to think of things we did besides eat and drink, but nothing is coming to me at the moment….
Oh yeah, I buzzed a chunk of my hair off! Because, why not?
After a couple of days, I said goodbye and made the next leg of my trip. I headed out early and drove from Lincoln to Kansas City, where I stopped for a break, and to take a tour that was recommended on TripAdvisor (which has become my guide to life) at the Roasterie. It was an interesting, free tour of the coffee company, and I figure why not expand my coffee education a little bit more? The best part was the amazing travel mug I found. It’s maybe the best thing that’s ever been invented. It has 2 lids, one is a regular one, and the other is a French Press attachment. And since I broke my last french press, I needed a replacement anyways. But the kicker is that the bottom of the mug is a compartment that you unscrew and you can store extra coffee in it, so that you can make your coffee in the morning, take your mug to work or wherever and drink it, and in the afternoon you have more grounds to brew yourself an extra cup. AND, I got the last one that they had in stock, so someone up there is definitely smiling down on me.
Then I headed on to Memphis. Which was a little out of my way, but I had already stopped in Nashville a few times on road trips, so I decided to switch routes. I had been to Memphis before, while driving with my FEMA Corps team from Texas to Long Island, but we were only there long enough to eat some fried chicken and make a quick trip to Elvis’s grave. I got to Memphis after dark and checked into my hotel room. Someone was obviously trying to lead me toward spiritual enlightenment because on one bedside table was an open Bible, and on the other bedside table was a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita, which according to the back cover “is universally renowned as the jewel of India’s spiritual wisdom. The back cover also said that Thoreau, Emerson, and Gandhi were big fans, so I chose that and put it in my bag.
Due to my poor planning, the next day was a Sunday, which, in the South means if it’s not a church, the doors are locked. The city was eerily empty. I went to the downtown area to have a look around, but it was kind of unnerving, so I left. I consulted my handy dandy TripAdvisor which told me that the only thing that would be open was the cemetery. I had recently gotten my new lens for my camera to replace the one I broke in the jungle, so I figured a cemetery would be a good place to take some pictures.
As I headed onwards toward Georgia, I saw signs saying I’d be passing through Tupelo. So I thought, since I’ve seen the final resting place of the King, why not see his birthplace, too?
I stopped at Elvis’ boyhood home, which is now a museum and visitor center. The woman who worked there was the epitome of Southern friendliness, and there was a weird moment, where after listening to her talking with a friend in their thick accents, I felt almost as conspicuous of an “outsider” as I do in Colombia when I went up and bought my ticket.
The diner that Elvis used to frequent was closed, so I hit up the Neon Pig and had a delicious meal, before completing the final leg of the trip and arriving in Temple. When I got there, Jessie was at home with the kids, and Lucia ushered me to my seat and began piling Dr. Seuss books on my lap to read to her. And so began the Georgia phase of my U.S. vacation.