Who’s There? Lina Lesmes
FRISCO – The love of travel and photography has led Lina Lesmes all over the world to soak up cultures, languages and incredible scenery.She developed her love of travel early, when the Bogota, Colombia, native moved with her family to the United States when she was 9 years old so her father could work with the Inter-American Development Bank, which funds development projects in Central and Latin America.She learned English there, branching out from her native Spanish tongue and French, which she also spoke in South America.Lesmes spent the rest of her childhood in the Washington, D.C., area and attended college at Virginia Tech in southwest Virginia, majoring in chemical engineering and art history – two fields she never pursued.”I needed a degree, and I was so far into it, I didn’t realize until my third year that it wasn’t for me,” she said. “I considered civil engineering, but my counselors told me chemical engineering was better because there were fewer people in it. And when I got out (of college), my heart wasn’t in it.”Her heart found itself in love with photography, so she worked at the college newspaper, and once attended the 1995 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, when her school won.”All the photographers on the field had to kneel in certain spots, but because I’m so short, they let me stand,” she said. “I stood right next to the guy from Sports Illustrated, and I asked him about a million questions. I think he was thoroughly annoyed with me by the end of the game.”Her love of travel found Lesmes in a study abroad program in France, where she spent six months absorbing the culture and language around her.
She then spent eight weeks in Nepal.”Of all the places I’ve been to, that was the coolest,” she said. “It has the happiest people, the most beautiful scenery. It’s amazing.”She returned to the United States and entered graduate school at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, studying international environmental policy.She didn’t pursue anything in that line of work after earning her degree, either.”I’m not much of a long-term planner,” she said with an easy laugh. “I thought I wanted to do the kind of work my Dad did. I wanted to focus on environmental issues, but I’d have to live in New York, or D.C.”In 1999, a friend urged her to come to Colorado with her.”She said, ‘Let’s go be ski bums; let’s go boarding all season,'” Lesmes said. “She convinced me. I said, ‘OK. But just for one season.'”She spent that season in Winter Park, then traveled to San Diego, Calif., to work at the San Diego Regional Energy Office as a project assistant.
But all she could think about was Colorado.”I thought about Colorado so much, I packed my car and left,” she said. “I was only there five months.”She chose Frisco because she’d visited friends in Breckenridge and in doing so, had passed through Frisco on numerous occasions. For Lesmes, it was the perfect location.She worked in the county planning department for nine months before transferring over to the same department for the town of Frisco. She lasted two-and-a-half years before the urge to travel struck again.Lesmes spent three-and-a-half months traveling throughout Australia, Japan, Thailand and China.”It’s amazing how you have to turn your life upside down to do a trip like that,” she said. “You have to save money, quit your job, figure out what to do with all your stuff, figure out where you’re going to live when you get back and you have to have the time to really do it. It takes a lot of commitment.”When she returned, a job in Frisco’s planning department opened up and she’s been there ever since.”It’s (the job) cool because there’s a big balancing act between what the town wants, what developers want, what the adjacent neighbors want,” she said. “You have to come up with a compromise.”
And although she believes she’s calmed her travel bug a bit, she still has an endless list of places she wants to visit: Scandinavia, Turkey, Greece and Egypt among them.-Jane Stebbins”Everywhere you visit, there’s so much to learn, so many interesting things you don’t realize are out there,” she said. “Every place has a story.”But she realizes upon her return each time how much she misses Frisco.”I come back and just stare at Mount Royal, the crisp blue skies,” she said. “It’s so amazing; you can take it for granted.”And the future?”I’m playing it by ear,” she said with a laugh. “Let’s leave it at that.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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