I leave on Saturday just about the time the sun will be rising. Jen is encouraging me to pull an all-nighter so I can sleep on the plane. I’m terrible at not sleeping, but I’m also terrible at packing early, so we’ll see what happens.
I asked my friend last night why she traveled to Peru a few years ago. She said that she had always wanted to see Machu Picchu, but really it was because she was trying to find herself again. She said that she travels, usually at the spur of the moment, when she has lost track of herself. She said that travel is the one thing that opens her up when she has closed down. Travel helps her feel the authentic texture of her soul. And that made complete sense to me.
It does not make sense to everyone. I have noticed this when I try explaining to various people why I want to travel. Some faces stay uncomfortably blank, if not quizzical, as I fumble through an explanation that I assumed was obvious. I guess that makes sense too–humans are different from each other. Some of us travel like hobbyists: it’s about the planning, sight seeing and passport stamping. Some of us hate to travel with all the inconvenience and crowd management. And some of us don’t travel as much as we pilgrimage, by default, every time we leave a ten-mile radius of our house.
I’m that last one. Since I was a kid, going to a new place was an invitation for transcendence. Not that every trip has been to Nirvana, but that is the kind of romantic expectation I have put on all travel. I become infatuated with all the possibilities I can imagine. And upon return home I have had good trips and bad trips and always want more.
Except when I didn’t. Going through my divorce and the subsequent years that followed made me really tired. My desire to travel and explore disappeared. It was disorienting and disappointing. It was another way in which I didn’t know myself anymore. And if there was going to be any upside to the single life it should have been the autonomy to adventure, but I could not muster up the will to bother. That lasted for five years.
Then a year ago, this shoot of an idea started to breakthrough. At first just as a dainty little blade of grass–what if I took the summer between grad school years to study Spanish abroad? Before I started my new career and was back in the 50 week work year? While I still had some singledom say? I let the stalk grow slow and steady for months and one day I opened my email to a subject line: (PERU STUDY ABROAD) Spanish & Human Services.
At a glance:
- exclusively for future counselors and social workers
- no Spanish pre-requisite (though prior Spanish is helpful)
- 6 weeks study abroad in Lima, Peru
- late summer (early July to mid-August)
- shadowing of Peruvian social services professionals
- volunteer opportunities in underserved barrio
- $30,000 in scholarships available to students anticipating using Spanish in their career
AND it was decided. Logistics ceased being a consideration. The refrain from Beauty and Beast was on repeat in my head, “I want adventure in the great, wide, somewhere. I want it more than I can tell…” This is how I make decisions.
Everything so far has worked out, so I trust that it will continue to do so. It feels good to feel the want again.