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El Batán in Cuenca, Ecuador

SOUTHERN AMERICAN HOSPITALITY

The kitchen is a no-fly zone, where space to craft a punch or charcuterie spread has to be carefully usurped at the margins of the vast empire. The best time to sneak in is when my father is updating his tabulation of butter used thus far. A true student of the tradition of Julia Child, he delights in giving us a painfully honest breakdown of precisely how the sausage was made, as waistlines strain against belts. The only time I had ever missed my family’s Thanksgiving before was to share a Turducken with a friend who was stranded and alone under house arrest. Now, thousands of miles from Cleveland in Ecuador, the reality of the glamorous traveler’s life came with a complimentary jar of maraschino cherries.

DESTINATION: HOMETOWN; MAKING THE MOST OF STAYING WITH FAMILY

There may be moments where it’s up to you to offer a counterpoint to crass generalizations and cultural falsehoods. That obnoxious Uncle in the MAGA hat who keeps suggesting Latin American countries are dangerous (whilst never having traveled beyond the tri-state area) is wrong. You’re well within your rights to let him know how wrong he is. Diminishing an entire group of people based on cultural differences is, to put it lightly, fucking bullshit. But do it gently and respectfully. Remember that we’re all human beings working towards similar goals. Far from being polar opposites, most of us are reasonable people, occupying some spot in the middle ground of the human experience.

A portrait of LL Cool J at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

MUSEUM GUIDES: THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

The Obamas’ portraits had been unveiled a few months prior to our visit to D.C., so we were excited to make a pilgrimage. While the museum was busy, the galleries are large and numerous. After a day of walking, we cut some rooms short, skipping some parts entirely. Portraiture is lovely, but once you’ve seen one old, dead white man, you’ve generally got the gist of it.

2×4 FROM TWO BY TOUR: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK

Bryce Canyon National Park is quite possibly one of the most gorgeous misnomers on the planet. The park’s namesake, Bryce Canyon, is notably only half a canyon. The concave cliff face winds down to the valley below while towering hoodoos bear witness to Gran Escalante.

2×4 FROM TWO BY TOUR: CUENCA STREET ART PT. IV

Cuenca, Ecuador has a lot to offer the eager sight-seer. The city’s reputation for beauty is well deserved, but something that seems missing from tourism literature is the city’s thriving street art scene. The UNESCO Heritage city is known for its religious structures, but around the corner from that church, there’s undoubtedly something just as compelling.