Nearly everybody's first question is "So, How was the trip?" It's a fair question but I always feel a bit overwhelmed by it because it feels too small to engage a topic so big. As soon as it's asked a landslide of thoughts leap into my mind fighting to be the answer I give. My immediate thought process is something along the lines of...
"This trip was relaxing, stressful, beautiful, easy, terrifying, delicious, horrid, hard work, exhausting, fun, educational, foul smelling, wonderful, merry, playful, serious, energizing. I lost myself, saw things I'd only known from books, got to know my best friend (Tyler) even better, fell in love, caught myself thinking in Spanish, built a building out of shit, leapt into ridiculous situations, learned html, got close friends from all over the world and ultimately found myself... Etc"But a tiny question begs a tiny answer. In all likelihood it was just a polite query and the person asking isn't ready to get assaulted with my verbal diarrhea on the topic. So, as these thought go streaming down to my mouth I scramble to pick a simple reply like "wonderful". Unable to summarize, I pick one phrase from the onslaught at random to answer with. Usually it works, but sometimes when the phrase that comes out is something like "I learned html" it surprises and confuses both of us.
Even now, when I'm sitting at home with all the time in the world to compose this post, I don't know how to summarize an experience like that. Because I am an engineer, I'll put things in the language I understand... numbers.
- The trip was 8 1/2 months long and spanned 10 countries.
(Tyler also went to Chile, bringing his count to 11)
- We took 5,688 pictures:
(these photos are a random pic from each of these sets, click its link for a slideshow on that theme)1042 from Guatemala303 from Honduras190 from Nicaragua781 from Costa Rica201 from Panama526 from Colombia526 from Ecuador526 from Peru278 from Bolivia1015 from Argentina242 from ChileAt least 293 of ArtAt least 176 of TylerAt least 148 of MicahAt least 530 of FlowersAt least 146 of Creatures
- Tyler and I went through 5 cameras. We started with 1 old beat-up Canon camera, bought 4 more before and during the trip, and broke or lost all but 1 of these.
(The old Canon made it through, and took most of the pictures of, the whole trip like a champ! )
- We each got at least 1 infectious parasite.
- We were both robbed, mugged, or assaulted a grand total of 0 times.
- I spent the night in 72 different places.
- I tried parilla, an Argentinean delicacy made with parts of a cow like the stomach and intestines, 2 times.
(I'll try anything once, twice if it doesn't kill me, and three times if I like it.)
- Tyler bought, made himself, or was given 23 necklaces, beads, or other pieces of jewelry.
- Smuggled 6 bottles of Argentinean wine home.
- We wrote 16 Blog posts in the lead up to this trip, and another 81 on the road for a total of 97.
(98 when I press publish!)
- Sampled at least 6 new types of alcohol.
(Chicha, Fernat, Pisco, Vino de Cana, Singani, Bolivian Agua de Fuego)
- Started seriously planning to start our own hostel in 3 places.
(Panama, Medellin, Lanquin)
- Had a merry reunion with others we met traveling at least 16 times.
(Arwen, Katherine, Bernat, Nell, Rizwana, Kuku, Edwin, Andy, Io, Kristina, Ditte, Ben, Krista, Flor, Rose, and Patricia)
- The biggest number, I'm sure, would be the number of times we swore we'd return to Latin America. But this number got too high to count after the first month.
Tyler and I hung up our backpacks at Madre MacAllens home for the time being and are struggling to figure out what to do next. In many ways this trip gave us a lot of answers that we went into it looking for... what we wanted out of life, who we are and what we want that to mean to the world. On the other hand, this trip gave us more questions than answers. Tylers career and life aspirations went from including Albany and a 10 mile radius around it to a broad five year plan that puts him in an exotic country for most of it. I've got a better sense of who I am, what I want to do with my life... but have returned home to find I left half of my soul below the equator. I don't really know where I'll be in a year, or even a month... but I plan to keep this weblog in the loop. Keep on comin' by!
An entirely new adventure begun the moment the Latin American Epic ended. And I'm even more excited, and curious, to see how this one plays out.