Off to South America

3/3/11

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sitting alone in an airport terminal, holding a one-way ticket to a foreign country.

It’s exciting, scary, nerve-racking and liberating all at once. Depending on the ticket’s destination, it also of course has an element of danger… which I will address later.

In any event, I thrive on these feelings. Doing something challenging and seemingly drastic forces you to break down your walls and through your comfort zone… and question how they got there in the first place.

So again I am taking the plunge…

I have booked a one-way ticket to Ecuador all set for the first week of March. I plan to start in Quito, navigate my way through Ecuador, improve my Spanglish, and then make my way into Peru to do some volunteer work in a city called Pisco. Pisco is located on the coast of Peru, just south of Lima, an area which was completely destroyed by an earthquake a few years ago. The volunteer work entails building, drilling, and fixing… all tasks I am certainly unqualified for, but what the hell, why not? I’ve always wanted to do some hardcore back-breaking volunteer work. For one, helping people in need is a great thing to do, and secondly, it is great for the soul. Everybody wins.

I’ve always been drawn to South America. A few years ago I spent about a week in Argentina (with travel partners I could NEVER top!), and ever since have wanted to go back and explore other parts of the continent. And there’s a somewhat logical reason I’ve chosen the countries I have. They do flow nicely along the pacific side of the continent, which is a plus. But also, as much as I love the excitement and liveliness that large urban cities have to offer, there is something to be said about the rugged charm of more underdeveloped, remote locations.

My general plan is to navigate my way through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and if time and resources permit… Colombia.

So the danger thing… People often tell me how dangerous it can be out there, and they have a valid point. However, not to sound completely morbid, we are on the brink of potential danger every day. Walking down the street has an element of danger. And so does driving a car. Every day people are killed in car accidents on their way home from work, or struck crossing the street by a driver who was too preoccupied to see the light turn red. We are constantly facing risky situations, the difference being these risks we have grown accustomed to.

But hopping a plane and embarking on an adventure to a third-world country.. Exciting! But yes, this comes with a new set of possible risks, a little more to be left to the imagination. What if I get robbed? What if I get malaria? What if I get kidnapped by Colombian drug lords? There can be great fear in the unknown.

I guess the most important thing is to be careful, trust your instincts, and enjoy the ride. Life is meant to be lived!

So off I go…

“You can be careful every single day, then trip over a bar of soap in your suburban home and break your head open having never visited Colombia.”- Mango :)A

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