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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

The Sunday Salon: Yet another trip to DC and places hither

The Sunday

Whoo! It's good to be back after a two week impromptu break! I did not mean to disappear like that, but the disappearance just happened to happen. We had friends over at our home the last weekend, and then this past week, I impulsively decided to be as absent from the digital world as I realistically could (Since I write code for a living, it's never entirely possible). Yesterday I played catch-up with my emails, and finally today, I am ready to blog.

Last weekend, we had a gala time when our friends were here. We visited Natural Bridge and then hiked to the Lace Falls. Since our friends are from Chicago, where domes and skyscrapers are the norm, they were quite enamored by the more rustic beauty of this part of the country. Our dog also joined for the hike and she was knocked out by the time we were done. A tired dog is a happy dog, right?

The scenic drive throughout

Luckily for us, she was so tired the next day as well that we did not feel too bad about dropping her at the pet boarding place, before we left for DC. Usually, we have a little leash wrestling with her as she tries to open the door and get back in the car, but this time she went happily inside, wagging that cute tail of hers.

The Capitol Hill

At DC, we played the role of the usual tourists, doing the Capitol Hill tour (ughh, they are renovating right now, so it's not the most photo-friendly place to be at), taking tons of pictures in front of the Reflecting Pool and the White House (has anyone ever been to White House and gone all "This is it? This is the White House?"), and lounging on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (mostly because we are famished from the looooooooong walk). The day was beautiful, colorful, and just plain picturesque. I still haven't looked at all our photos from the trip, but I know the guys had a great time click-a-clicking. The next day, we also visited our favorite museum in DC - the Air and Space Museum near the Dulles airport.  If you're a Transformers geek, you will spend a lot of time drooling over the Blackbird that's located here.

The White House

The Monument

As always, my favorite part of a trip to the capital is the walking, though the others wouldn't agree with me on that. Fitbit tells me I walked more than 7 miles that day and that had me super-elated. On the way back, we stopped at Luray Caverns, where I had already been to three times in the past but still found something new to appreciate each time (This time, it was the totem poles that I did not notice much in the past). Because of the thunderstorms we had the previous week, the caverns had a lot of water and some flooding, so it was amazing to be so down there knowing all that water does reach there eventually. If you've never been to Luray, you should go there at least to see its Dream Lake. It's a very shallow lake that reflects the ceiling above it so perfectly that it feels as if the lake is very deep. No matter how many times I see it, I always get excited at that part of the tour.

Us in the caves
We saw a mama bear and her two cubs on the
drive back home at the Shenandoah National Park.
They watched us for a while and then tried to get away when
we started snapping "Oh my god - there are bears" photos!
The rest of my week was pretty boring. A lot of work and TV shows to catch up on, and planning for our families' six month visit when they arrive here from India during the Memorial Day weekend. Yes, six months - you read that right. We see them very little, considering we stay on opposite sides of the planet, plus air fares aren't exactly cheap. So when they visit, they are here for a long time. Sure, we have our dramas once in a while, but we are quite excited to have them here anyways. I know our dog will be excited to have extra hands feeding her and walking her.

I have quite a few books to review - Child of Dandelions (Uganda), The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry (U.S.), Does my Head Look Big in This? (Australia). Last night I started reading The City Son (Nepal), which surprised me by how much I'm enjoying and loving it. Within two hours, I finished more than half of the book, which is very rare for me. Another couple of hours today, and I'll be thinking about how best to review this book too. I'm not sure what I'll read after this or which country I'm hoping to visit next. I haven't read anything in South America yet this year, so if you have any recommendations for me, I would be glad to check it out. Mostly, I'm trying to read lighter fiction. A lot of the books from some countries focus heavily on the wars that ravaged those regions, and while I believe it's necessary to read such books, I think it's more important to read non-war books, because they are what will make you come back to those countries, don't you agree?

Today, the husband and I are mowing our backyard and finishing up our vegetable garden raised beds. So we're probably going to be spend the evening lying down somewhere nursing some tired muscles, while we wait excitedly for tonight's Game of Thrones episode (Tonight is the trial we've all been waiting for!).


bermudaonion(Kathy) said…
Your travels sound like lots of fun to me! I love DC and never tire of going there.
Athira / Aths said…
It is certainly a place where there is so much to do and see!
DC is such fun. I've only been once but it's one of those cities you can visit time and time again and never run out of stuff to do.
Meg said…
Yay for D.C.! Love seeing others visiting my hometown (though I'm actually from the Maryland suburbs, I'm a Washingtonian at heart). The weather has been really nice after such a long winter, and I'm glad you had a great trip! I was actually just talking to my husband about Luray Caverns -- he's never been, and I haven't been since I was a kid. Must get out there for a day trip sometime soon.
Ti Reed said…
I've only visited DC once and it was only for a very short weekend. I crammed as much as I could into that trip. So much to see. I think I managed to cover the major sites. But the White House? Yeah, I was kind of... meh about it.
Athira / Aths said…
I agree - there is always so much to see and do there. I love going to DC.
Athira / Aths said…
Oh you should come and visit Luray Caverns. When I went this time, our guide said people have come back after 30 or 40 years and truthfully, nothing has changed at all in that time frame, but it still feels to them as if a lot has changed.
Athira / Aths said…
When I saw White House for the first time, I was super disappointed. I don't know what I expected but whatever it was, the building was a big anti-climax. When we took our friends this time, they had the same expression. It was just hilarious!
readingtheend said…
Hahahaha, I bet TONS of people have been to the White House and had the exact same reaction you did. The trouble with those tremendously famous places that are on postcards all the time is that when you do see them, you often think: Huh. Just like the postcard. At least I often do -- I was completely unmoved by the Tower of London (poor Tower of London, I feel I was unjust to it), for instance.
Ti Reed said…
It's kind of small and doesn't really have the WOW factor you'd expect from a building with so much history behind. I am sure it's more amazing as seen from within but from the gate (LOL) it was just a big white house.
Athira / Aths said…
I agree that it's probably more impressive on the inside. Someday I'm hoping to be able to see the insides, but until then, it's a boring building.
Athira / Aths said…
They did that in a movie too, I forget which one. These guys go to the Grand Canyons (I think) and then they go hmming there, like what's the big deal about this? Some of these historic places are just like that - they show up so much in the news and the books and the postcards, that when you finally see the place, it's underwhelming. Just like overhyped books.