Make Random Happen

View from my hotel in Lima, Peru.

I wrote this post last week in Lima, Peru.

His name was Didier. He spoke a little English and I spoke a little Spanish. We met briefly at EARTH university in Costa Rica where I was working as a banana worker. He asked what I was doing in Costa Rica and I told him about my Where Am I Eating project, including my upcoming trip to Colombia to research coffee.

“My family lives in Nariño a region famous for coffee.” He said.

We talked for 15 minutes, maybe.

Two months later I was strolling down the streets of his hometown, El Tablon de Gomez, beside his father Ladardo and his two sisters. I ate one of their guinea pigs. I spent three days with his family. They introduced me to coffee farmers many of whom sold/had sold the labors of their work to Starbucks.

Fifteen minutes, that’s it.

I’m in Peru. How, I have no idea?

Sure, I know that I was invited by Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, but it’s not like I’m getting requests to speak in South American on a regular basis. I have a book in the world and a blog too. Sometimes each of them finds interesting characters all over the world who drop me a note. But a speaking request in South America? I was puzzled.

I just accepted it.

In 2009 I spoke to a room full of students at WTAMU. I was invited by a fabulous professor named Melody Loya. She was super nice. We grabbed some lunch. She showed me the campus. She used WEARING in her class and we kept in touch. I think my visit ended with a hug.

Two years later WTAMU selected my book as their freshmen common reader. Instead of speaking to a room full of students, I talked to a stadium full of students most of whom had read my book. Amy Andersen and Kendra Campbell helped me put my regalia on… in the men’s bathroom. When we walked out we were cracking up. The year before Elie Wiesel was their common reader/convocation speaker. They didn’t’ accompany him to the bathroom.

Afterwards, I drank wine with James Hallmark, a Dean at the university.

We exchanged travel stories.

“Kelsey, I hear I got you a gig in Peru.” James and Amy via Facebook both took credit for recommending me to a former colleague who teaches at Loyola now.

That’s how the university flew me to Peru to speak with their students with a two week layover in Colombia to stay with Didier’s family. That’s right I got my plane ticket paid for, and then some. Traveling the world and writing books doesn’t pay loads so you have to get creative.

Make Random Happen

Life seems so random. The more people you talk and laugh with and simply enjoy the ride alongside the more random life becomes.

Talk to people. Enjoy each other. Learn from each other. Make random happen.

Right now as I look our from my hotel room at the city of Lima, I’m thankful for the randomness of my life. More than that I’m thankful for Didier, his dad Ladardo, their family in El Tablon de Gomez, and for Amy and James.

I’m also thankful for Bobby and Katie of Fair Trade USA who I spent an amazing three days with visiting the Ahuacan people in northern Colombia. The randomness continues….

Where has random taken you?

Laura says:

I visited a small town in northern Germany and went into Denmark after meeting a German in Kenya and deciding to go visit her (skipping my intended stay in Berlin). And I have visited lots of small villages across Kenya by making local friends while in the country. I love where random takes me….

Kelsey says:

Laura, this is exactly why I hate having plans. I like to pursue random. Here’s a great video about a fella that travels like us –

Bente says:

Absolutely true.
Randomly I found out about you, your blog, your endless engagement, where your clothes are made etc.
Just as I am restructuring my little children’s wear brand, heading it slowly towards Fair Trade and following my own direction towards what I always though was important and against what all the others thought were important(with a very few exceptions).
During the last months I found a small factory in Kenya, have contact with a Micro Financing company that work in Kenya, Palestine and India, got to know Robert and his Malayaka House project in Uganda.
I read your book. It’s wonderful. Learned a lot and got courage to go forward. Got to read about the Sole Rebels. Fascinating and makes things in a realistic perspective.

I would love to know if you have more projects other places in Africa or know/have heard about.
Very curious to know your travel through the world of “Where Am I Eating”. Looking forward!

Kelsey says:

Bente, Random comments like yours keep me going. Thanks! There needs to be a better clothing line for kids. There aren’t enough options for parents.

Check out They source in Uganda.

Sarah says:

Random brought me to Indiana, which may not seem like much, but it changed my life. I was going to school in Kansas and was working as an Aquatics Director for the Boy Scouts and had to attend a 5 day grueling training camp… in Nebraska. On the first day of camp I met the man who was to become my husband. But, since he didn’t “do long distance”, I had two choices: say goodbye or pack up and move to Indiana. It was a no-brainer. I moved. Because of his love and support, I have two amazing sons who could not be more different and a chance to have a career I used to dream of: writer. Taking the road less traveled, the random choice, has made all the difference in my life and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Kelsey says:

Sarah, love your random story. Just imagine if you would have been sick that first day of camp. Unimaginable.

I am occasionally a street musician. That is, I take my electric guitar out to the middle of a city, stand up, and play some music. This means I am often overwhelmed with random interaction. I thrive on it.

I’ve made good friends just because I commented on someone’s tshirt! I once traded phone numbers with an older Chinese man who spoke no English. I even called him a few times and he left me voicemails. We have no idea what each other said. I’ve slept on a boulder in between two waterfalls on a whim with friends.

I’ve been told by numerous people that unusual encounters with strangers only happen when I’m around. I like to think it’s because I’m open to any experience life has to offer. You just have to look for it. Everyone has something in common, you just have to find it and work from there.

Kelsey says:

Well said, Chris. Man you’ve got some cajones to perform as a street musician. What kind of music do you play?

Kelsey, you are amazing. I did something similar in that I will be spending next winter in South Carolina. I offered my services as a writing consultant to an elementary principal. Yep, I’ll be doing writer’s workshops for her kids.

Kelsey says:

Rebecca, that is fantastic! So cool! You have to report back to let us know how it goes.

I write my own stuff. Sometimes I play my electric and try to channel my inner Hendrix and do blues jams. I tend to be a bit on the eccentric/experimental music side of things.

But often I’m covering songs people know because it gets smiles. Stuff like “Rocky Raccoon” by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead. I even covered “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga for awhile because it’s pretty funny and gets a lot of looks and laughs.

Let your voice be heard!