After 3.5 months, sadly our time spent in South America has come to an end. We have spent many nights in several different Airbnbs and hostels, spent countless hours in busses traveling within countries and crossing borders, and we have taken a plethora of airplanes, colectivos, taxis, and Ubers to get us from point A to B. We have hiked, walked, and trekked hundreds of miles. Our skin is now bronzed from countless beaches, snorkeling, and outdoor adventures.
When I close my eyes and think about our time in South America, it was everything we could have imagined it to be before we left our home in February. From the insane hikes (one I thought I would freeze to death and another I thought for sure I would fall off the side of the mountain before I made it to the top), crowded hostels, hundreds of stray dogs, unfamiliar currency (thank you Google Finance for your help), language barriers, strange food, bizarre landscapes (thanks to San Pedro de Atacama, I now feel as if I have visited the moon), unique wildlife (Galapagos!), gorgeous beaches (too many to list), breathtaking cathedrals and churches, religious processions, and the historic ruins (Machu Picchu), we will surely miss our time spent here. We have met many amazing, talented people along the way, some of which we know for certain we will keep in touch with for many years to come; each person offering either a fascinating story, word of wisdom, or history lesson about the local customs and cultures.
Traveling for 3.5 months has taught me alot. Contrary to what most people think, traveling in itself can teach a person more than a job or university ever will. Traveling has provided me the opportunity to leave my “comfort zone”; my familiar, home. I firmly believe that you must do things outside of your comfort zone if you want to grow. The decision to leave my career and travel the world with my husband was fueled by exactly this…the need for me to find EXACTLY what ignites my soul. Of course the day I sat down with my boss I was filled with a mixture of emotions; fear, anxiety, excitement, anticipation…no one has a crystal ball that can foresee the future or has a script for what lies ahead. I figured the only wrong decision I could make was the decision to not leave and at least try. Failure to learn from our decisions in life is what makes us “failures”; it is not the decision to do something that makes us so. In just a short amount of time, I have been able to experience the “unknown” on a daily basis. I am exposed to new people, new cultures, new languages, new customs, new rules, new food, etc. which has, in turn, made me more inquisitive and eager to learn more about the locals and their customs.
Travel has also enabled me to be more patient. One of the first things I started to notice about myself on this travel journey is that I now feel a greater sense of calmness whereas before I lived a very “fast-paced” lifestyle, having grown up and lived in big cities my entire life. It is okay to have to wait in line for something, your wi-fi connection will not always be the best, you may have to wear the same shirt twice (or three times, before hand-washing it), you may have to take a cold shower (for weeks), the waitress/ waiter does not have to clear your plate off your table as soon as you finish your meal, someone may not respond to your email for a week, flights will be cancelled, you will book the wrong flight, you will have to change hostels, you will get dirty, you will fall ill… these are things that happen in life that are out of our control. Traveling has helped me to realize that not everything in life has to go perfectly as planned; the little bumps in the road are just part of the adventure and when you undertake the problem, you will appreciate your experience even more.
Travel has also taught me that you can live with very little and be just fine. Prior to leaving I would actually lose sleep over what to bring on our extended travels around the world. I would go over lists in my head of clothing, shoes, electronics, and products I knew I had to fit into my one bag (Travel Tools) . I suppose some of my sleepless nights were due to the anticipation of our upcoming travels but in hindsight, losing sleep over what to pack is just plain stupid. You can purchase anything around the world (or a variation of) and I have since ditched articles of clothing that were not practical and travel gadgets that were useless. I secretly wish half the stuff in my bag would grow wings and fly back into my closet at home so my bag could be lighter.
Thank you South America for all that you have given to us. We will carry this trip with us and all the lessons we have learned into our new adventures. I am certain our paths will cross again.
Goodbye for now…