A walk through our neighborhood, and I see the Pachamama.
December 12, 2019
It seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes our family chooses “to do nothing” in order to do something. Last spring, I was lucky to accompany our hospital’s residency program on a trip to the Andes Mountains in Peru. I was able to fulfill one of my dreams as the attending pediatrician and helped >400 children of the indigenous Quechuan people. It was a trip and 2 weeks that I will never forget.
But I have another dream, a dream for my future grandchildren to live in a world that does not resemble the setting of Mad Max or one of those dystopian novels my High School son reads. I accept that flying is not sustainable. I had vague feelings that the tens of thousands of dollars it cost our hospital and ourselves to get our team to Peru, and the carbon we spewed into the air in the process really did not make sense. Would the money have been better spent actually helping reforest the Andes or given directly to the local medical system? I have conflicted feelings. But for now, I choose not to travel too much especially not to fly. The Swedes call it flygskam, or flight shame https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/26/greta-thunberg-train-journey-through-europe-flygskam-no-fly. When you see this blog’s donation totals, you will see that I have chosen to often donate to the rainforests in Peru https://drplasticpicker.com/donation-round-up/. That trip and the people I met fundamentally changed me. And I think of those children when I chose to donate to the rainforest there.
I was lucky to be able to hike Machu Pichu and live in that little charminig quaint village, and to get to know the community. I’m not much of a drinker, but it’s the only time I’ve ever had a full alcoholic drink with the fun residents! I had two Pisco Sours in a row and we played Mafia. So much fun!
But there is adventure to be had in our own town. Many weekends, we choose to stay local and I never even leave the 2-mile radius it takes to get from our house to my parent’s house or to the beach. In fact, we are so lucky to live two blocks from the bulk grocer in our town. Last weekend, Mr. Plastic Picker and I took a circuitous route to pick up dinner items by walking from our house to the shore, up and down the pier, and then headed to the grocery store and then back home. And dear readers, it was a wonderful quiet and delightful evening.
Although I walk along this stretch most mornings, in the evening it was lively and different with Mr. Plastic Picker by my side. There were young beautiful humans walking hand in hand, bundled against the brisk evening air. We walked toward the town’s pier. Eventhough I have walked this path many times, this time of year and this evening I found different things to delight in.
As we walked along the pier, you could feel the waves crashing against the wooden supports beneath us. The waves were large and bold, and we gazed down looking for plastic. The light was so beautiful and my iPhone pictures turned out great.
I had never realized there was a little bait shop midway down the pier. It was festooned in festive wreaths and was closed for the evening. But the photos of happy humans was there for me to look at.
I did not know that you could rent one of the cottages, which range from $224 to $600 a night. They are very popular and book out at least 4 months. This makes our mortgage payment look like a bargain!
There were many beautiful wreaths from local shops and clubs. I stopped to appreciate. Next year, dear readers, I am determined to have a drplasticpicker wreath! I declare my intention now. 12 months henceforth!
As Mr. Plastic Picker and I meandered back down the pier, our town was beginning to put on it’s evening clothes. The young beautiful humans were headed into the eateries, which were just steps away from their little cottages.
Mr. Plastic Picker and I enjoy walking by the jolly noise. But we are middle-aged and have lived many decades. We left the beach for the young people, and headed to the bulk grocery store. I love our local bulk grocer, and had brought my reusable produce bags, rigid plastic containers, and grocery totes on our walk. When we finally arrived there after our meandering want, we picked through the beautiful fruit and vegetables, and tried to buy food with less packaging. We are not plastic-free, but we try to buy food with less plastic and make it a game.
And that it how we spent a weekend evening. I think of Peru often when we go for these walks. I would be dishonest if I did not admit that I have been tempted. I yearn to return and to see those beautiful mountains, and drink manzanilla tea and eat the flat breads we had at breakfast every morning. My friends from the residency program have asked. Do you want to go with us to Thailand? What about Vietnam? This summer Fiji? Jamaica is January? My friend who plans these trips has not asked me about Peru again. I do not know what I would say. But for now, I want to stay true to what I think is the right thing to do. I have flygskam. We purposefully are trying to live a more quiet life. We chose to do something by “doing nothing.” Or at least doing activities that are local.
I often will refer to the Pachamama in my poems https://drplasticpicker.com/we-are-tired-we-marbled-godwits/. I learned about the Pachamama in Peru. She is the mother goddness/ mother earth. Here is the Pachamama.
I saw the Pachamama in Peru. I saw donkeys, the llamas, chinchillas, and I saw the Pachi mama worshipped by one older Quechuan woman when she hung offerings in front of her home. I also see the Pachamama on the beach. The wandering wimbrels, the Marbled godwits and the dead Thornback Guitarfish. Sometimes I think she tells me to stay on my beach and to clean. So I stay, and I clean, and I walk through this beautiful town where I am known as drplasticpicker.