Yesterday I booked a 15 day guided tour to Peru and Bolivia. It’s been 10 years since I’ve been in South America. In 2006 I went with some other graduate students to carry out a research study on the impact of housing developments in 4 countries where Habitat for Humanity works. We met to design the study at Habitat’s Latin American headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica and then I was assigned to carry out my part of the project in Chile. We were going to do interviews and focus groups with residents of Habitat houses in three local communities.
Just a few years before I spent a year living and working in Colombia doing international accompaniment work along some rural fishing and farming communities along the Opon river valley, eight hours (by bus) northeast of Bogota. My first taste of Latin America came in 1997 when I found out I could spend a few weeks doing an intensive language study in Costa Rica to fulfill my two semesters of a foreign language required for undergraduate students. After graduating I went on the prerequisite backpacking through Central America trip, spending most of my time in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico.
This year I turned 40 and as unbelievable as that seems to me I’m generally glad I’m older and wiser and more fluent than I was in my 20s and as I’m considering taking a desk job again, it seems like the opportune time to go back and squeeze in one last adventure. I have not yet seen Machu Picchu.
It’s no secret that I struggle a lot with depression and the past few years have not been easy, with the loss of three close relationships. I left my job in DC and moved back to Florida a year ago without a clear plan for what I’d do next. I’m not one of those people who ever had her life precisely planned out and depression lies, telling you that no matter how much you’ve accomplished in life, at your current age, you are not where you planned to be. It’s a stupid insidious lie. Don’t listen to it.
If I had a plan for my life it was just this: to have as many experiences as I possibly could and to work for social justice. I have done well on both counts. I have no regrets. So it makes sense to continue following that philosophy of life and this trip is part of that. Especially as I’m considering starting a desk job again in the near future. Now is the time.
My travels through Latin America are part of who I am, part of how I got to be the person I am today. As I sit here wondering over the past year what the next stage of my life should be it makes sense to go back to Latin America and be a foreigner again. I’ve been away too long.
I leave within a month.