Traveling Recap–Did it Change My Life?

As my travels are winding down, I have started doing a little reflection on my trip.  16 months away is a long time to be away. Was it life changing?  Not in any dramatic way [although I did make one big decision as a result of my volunteer experiences].  Did I make a difference in some one else’s life?  Maybe on some small level for at least the time I was there.  I can’t say what happened after I left.   Did I meet my goals?  Yes. My goals of the trip was to have fun, engage in meaningful volunteer experiences, and meet new people.  I am a little bit torn.  In one way, I feel like I could go on traveling forever.  There is a great big world out there, and this experience has taught me that I have only seen a tiny part of it.  In another way, I am ready to start down the path of my new career.  I am a little bit scared.  It will be a long road.  I don’t know when I will be able to travel again, especially like this.  I feel conflicted about going “home.”  I don’t really have a home.  I have friends that I want to be near.  I can’t wait to see the children in my life, and how much they have changed.

Wandering without being lost–Laguna Miscanti, Atacama Desert, Chile 2010

There are things I have missed–such as having a regular study spot, sleeping in my own bed, taking a bath in my own bathtub–hot water and all,  and of course my kitties.  I have people who I want to see although I have learned I can make friends with nearly anyone.   So in one aspect I am ready to get home, tackle what I need to tackle in order to meet my goals. Another part of me says traveling is so easy–much more so than real life, so I should continue doing that.  I think my next international trip will be to some part of Eastern Europe.  I am not sure where or when, but until then I have a little more that half of the United States to explore [and now I have new friends in previously untraveled parts of the country].

Thinking about what to do

Since I know the questions will be coming, I spent a few minutes in thought about the best and worst parts of my trip.  Here goes:

Andean Condor in flight

Highlights: unexpected almost free trip to the Galápagos Islands, Iguazu Falls, seeing Aconcagua, being at the end of the world
Low lights: catching malaria during my first month of my trip.  I didn’t show symptoms for about 6-8 weeks though.  Or at least that’s the best guess based on when I was entering and exiting the Amazon.

Blue footed Booby

Thing I wish I hadn’t lost: my head lamp… I actually know where I left it; I was just too far gone before I realized it. I have been in the dark ever since then.
Thing I wish I had lost:  I never used my rain poncho.  I gave it to some kids and they had a blast playing with it.
Most useful items: Zune with speakers, Swiss army knife, sheet, travel pillow
Least useful items: camera accessories (I used them because I had them, but I would have been fine without them), umbrella
Best new food: Manjarblanco with apples…. mmmmmm
Worst new food: cuy–too small, too little meat, too much work, and too greasy

Santa Catalina Monastery

Funniest moment: “beerbombs”–how my Brazilian friend Henrique pronounced/understood the explanation of “beer-bong”
Scariest moment:  There were two:  1. Being pounded into the rocks like a rag doll with a surf board tied to my feet, not being able to catch my breath, or regain my balance, and looking back and seeing nothing more than a wall of water coming my way…really thought I might die that way.  2. Being kidnapped by rouge taxi drivers crossing the border from Peru to Ecuador who tried to extort money from me.
Favorite place visited:  Angel Falls, so remote, so beautiful and Usuhaia… for the same reasons as Angel Falls

 

Lake Titicaca

Least favourite place visited: the midad del mundo monument… so overrated
Favorite new activity:  para sailing… its like floating in the air
Least favourite new activity: Surfing
Favourite countries: Argentina and Colombia
Least favourite countries: Paraguay and Ecuador
Favourite cities:  MendozaAR, and Santa Marta, CO
Least favourite cities:  Santiago, Chile and Rio de Janeiro, BR (just too big)

Cartagena, Colombia… one of my favorite cities

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