Portland: Week #2

This post is winging its way across the interweb from SE Division St, where I will be staying for the next week. Then it’s back to Amanda’s for a couple of days before the San Francisco leg gets officially under way (hang in the there Emily Kennewell – almost there!). I’ve gone slightly off the beaten track with this new location in the south of the city (by Portlander standards anyway; I have heard this district ominously referred to as the Deep South, which I think sounds a bit dramatic for a neighbo(u)rhood which is a 15-minute bus ride from Downtown). I am loving the new location, I must say; Yvonne’s house has a creaky, slightly dated allure to it (Miss Havisham would feel quite at home) and the streets around here are leafy and lined with a generous choice of cute coffee shops, independent stores and local art galleries – all very nice indeed. Specifically, I am typing this from The Flying Cat, where I have been served a refreshing iced ginger and peach tea in a jam jar. The hipster points are accumulating spectacularly!

The Flying Cat

The Flying Cat

I’m going to do the British thing and dedicate a small paragraph to the weather. It is bloody BAKING! The rain-accustomed Portlanders say that it’s the hottest summer that they can remember – 99F yesterday (just converted that and it’s about 37C). The best time to wander about is in the morning before it starts heating up. After that every activity is a sweat-drenched affair. It’s all good Latin America training though, so I’m not complaining!

As mentioned at the end of my last post, this week has been a lot more about the slow lane. I went back to Amanda’s for a few days while she was out of town, and spent many a pleasant hour reading, dozing, South America planning and watering her plants – and even got a bit translation work done in between! In addition to this beautifully peaceful existence, happenings this week include:

One of Amanda's beloved tomatoes - which I ate, at her insistence! Taaasty.

One of Amanda’s beloved tomatoes – which I ate (at her insistence). Taaasty.

Silver Falls and Opal Creek road trip. After some rooting around in the Couchsurfing community, a Motley crew was formed: Tyson (Portland/Colorado), Georgiy (Baltimore/Uzbekistan), Dee Dee (NYC/Afhganistan), Vikas (Portland/India) and myself. Together, we rented a car for the day and headed out of town to take in some North West natural beauty. First stop was the stunning Silver Falls site, home to several waterfalls and some great hiking trails. This was followed by a stop at the inventively named Three Pools, close to Opal Creek. The pools are natural swimming holes containing crystal green water – the perfect spot for a dip and a chill. Saying that I didn’t actually go in, but did have a lovely snooze on the rocks. For me, there are few better things than connecting with people you couldn’t have dreamed of meeting, surrounded by the rich beauty of the forest. Fantastic day.

The road trip gang

The road trip gang

Three Pools

Three Pools

Yoga. Yoga yoga yoga yoga yoga. I am officially in yogi mode, and in yoga Mecca here. I found a centre right by Amanda’s house which was offering unlimited classes for 2 weeks for $25 – it’s as though they could see me coming! Haven’t felt this sound of body and mind for quite some time. BOOM.

Ecstatic dance. This was one of the more bizarre experiences of the journey thus far… finding it hard to succinctly describe my reaction! In essence: imagine downstairs in the Purple Turtle (before it was revamped) at 4am on a Saturday night. Except that it is 10am, and no one is drunk/on anything. The organisers basically play a load of random music and you spend an hour dancing or responding to it however your body instructs you to. This may include any/a combination of the following: howling, gyrating, skipping, crying, head-banging, pirouetting, lying motionless on the floor.

I tried it briefly, but perhaps I am either not evolved enough or too inhibited to feel whatever deep release I had been told about beforehand. Despite my best efforts, I felt uncomfortable, like an intruder or a pretender. Or perhaps I just value personal space. I found it more fascinating to observe, which anybody is free to do from one of the cushioned ‘quiet areas’ at the side. Primal, cultist and orgiastic were words that entered my mind, as I watched a group in the centre fall in a heap on the floor together, grabbing for each other’s limbs and moaning like ghosts in a kids’ cartoon. I can see how doing away with rules, rigid dance traditions and social conventions in a communal space like that may feel very liberating, although I’d also argue that an organised session like that simply ends up inventing its own new rulebook. Mostly, I saw a room of people desperate to feel, reject, escape and connect with something greater and more meaningful than themselves. There was at least commitment and sincerity in the room, which I admired. Perhaps my way of escaping/looking for meaning just involves being a bit quieter and more solitary. Forgive my ruminating on this subject – long story short: it was an experience that I am glad I had, but which I might not repeat!

Over and out for now, have yourselves a wonderful week! Final Portland thoughts coming soon, then it’s off to Californ-i-a 🙂

K x x x

P.s. Latest photos coming shortly (road trip ones mostly courtesy of Vikas, thank you my friend!)


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