Mexico and Mezcal

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Mezcalería La Penca is located in the heart of Ensenada.

In a cavernous stone room, a wooden bar stood dimly lit and lined with bottles of the agave liquor.

My friends and I sat on creaky stools as the woman behind the bar pulled out tiny glasses and poured the clear liquid into them. Next to our three tastings she placed a dish of orange slices and worm salt.

We inhaled the aroma and exhaled as we sipped.

Smoky earth. Sweet bananas. Warm spice.

Walking on purple

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Uruguay holds the color palette of my dreams.

Thanks to serendipity I met with an American writer in Montevideo. We met in a bookstore with tiled floors and stain glass ceilings. We sat on the back patio that was enveloped in ivy and foliage and drank cappuccinos and ate dulce de leche cake.

The sugar rush fueled us through the streets across town, under the brown bark of Jacaranda trees and across their fallen purple petals. Thick like a velvet blanket, the petals were crushed under our footsteps on the sidewalks.

We ended up spending the whole day walking and talking and eating. At dusk we explored La Rambla and photographed European buildings that seemed more post-apocalyptic than pristine. We ate Medialunas, glazed croissants, some filled with ham and some with cream.

My fingers were sticky with sugar crystals and my face with salty river spray.

Southbound in a bullet train

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We picked up breads and pastries at the train station in Seoul. Then once we arrived in Jeongeup we stopped in a convenience store and bought cups of ramen and cheap, cold beer. We were headed south.

The bus had tinted windows, and yellow curtains. We caught it at 2:46 pm and it departed from the station at 2:50 pm.

When we arrived at the base of the mountain, the leaves were already turning. Vendors sold persimmons and roasted chestnuts to hikers who walked back to their cars with their shirts caked to their arms in sweat.

We entered a dank and desolate hotel. Our room was facing the mountains. Our bathroom’s pipes were rusty and leaking. Our pillows were like bean bags filled with cut up plastic straws, but we were happy. We stocked our fridge with our Japanese beer and filled up the electric water kettle for our cup of instant noodles. We’d trace the trail to the Baekyangsa Temple that night to be ready for the morning.