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Published: January 31st 2007
Six weeks after I return to the US I can say that I am finally adjusting. Don't get me wrong -Its great being back, seeing friends.. living in the most amazingest place ( I wake up every morning to the sound of the Ocean). Nonetheless, I really miss South America. Everyone always talks about the effects of arriving in other countries- the difficulties, the adjustment, the feeling of loneliness,the culture shock. Yet, no one ever speaks about the hardships of re-adjsuting. The past 6.5 months were by far the best months of my life. I completely changed as a person. Backpacking solo, I had to maintain an open mind, hope for the best, and think twice about decisions (like when I badly had to use the restroom, but was waiting for a bus and had no one to watch my bag...). I met so many good people from all over- England, South Africa, Thailand, Germany, every type of Latino, etc, that individually and as a whole showed me many different ways to live life, look at situations, and be happy.
The way I travelled was slow, but I spent time in different cities, got to interact with the locals,
.. my life is too good
and know some really well. This book I read in 11th grade english, "Red Badge of Courage" has always stayed in my head. During the Book, the protaganist never calls any of the other soliders by name. only by descriptions " the tall one". By doing this, he does not attach himself to them and mourn when they die. That is how I feel when most people travel. Get on the bus, get off the bus, go to the safe hotel. But man, travel benefits so much when you interact, get your hands dirty, learn some customs and opinions of the locals.
I have had such an overload of experiences that I donot think I can ever re-adjust to the normal materialistic bubble that is my past and upbringing. In Bolivia I wound up at a hostel where it was all cokeheads just living day by day by every penny they make. Granted, they were very nice to me and treated me with the utmost respect; however,never tried coke, and honestly dont ever want to do any drugs after I saw how motivatedless and lifeless they were. Furthermore, in Bolivia and parts of Chile, with my blond hair and blue eyes, I was the outsider. I was not the majority ( even though I guess now in California, we are the minority, or close to it), I did not have the egocentric power. Or the other time in Rio de Janiero, I met a girl who was volunteering in a main favella. I spent 3 afternoons helping her teach english, construct a playcenter. Only to find out that she paid almost $1700US for volunteering one month and board in a shared dorm, and the favella/ community would recieve less than $500. The company has free labor and basically $1000 of free money. At Copacobana, Bolivia ( Lake Titicaca), I made friends with this 11 year old local girl and her 9 year old brother. They were trying to sell cheesey tourist shit. Anyways, she told me that she wakes and helps her mom with the house ( or should I say Boards put together). Then all day she sells. At sunset she goes home to dinner and then runs off to school from 7pm-9pm. When I gave her some of my makeup and other small items, you would of thought she won the mega lottery. Furthermore, I spent an extra day there playing soccer with her brother and friends. In Argentina, I was fortunate enough to make great friends that everyday wanted me over or called me to see how I was doing. With the weakness of the economy and the peso, viewing and experiencing how frugal people were with their spendings, or the appreciation of loved ones, was so refreshing. I truely admire the Argentine way of life. How they value the art of conversation and people.
So coming home, going back to UCSB, everyone wanted me to tell them stories.. of course I have stories, but I still feel lonely and out of place and that my adventures ( or for the sake of my dad, "My studies") can never be duplicated or recounted for. I can never portray or fathom to explain the emotions, the adventures, the epiphanies I had. So THE Greatest 6.5 months of my life are unwritten about. Are kept in my notes, my pictures, and my head. Every now and then I hear something or see something that refreshes a tidbit of memory. South America, the two times I have been, has been amazing to me. It has welcomed me and embraced me with open arms. Everyone wants to go to Europe- its stable, there are tons of musuems and history ( the most history we learn about in school). Fine go, leave me with Latin America, with the dreamers, the revolutions for equality, the struggles for justice and human rights, the hardships of econic failures and corruption. I want the ever changing excitment of uncertainty.
So, I am secretly planning my next trip back. Hopefully exploring Peru, Northern Brazil..... who knows.
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