Ben and I parted with Latin America 2 months ago on the coast of Mexico for our home in Sarasota, FL. We returned to our jobs and moved close by our families, falling into a routine drastically different from the life we’ve lead over the past year.
The first couple weeks back, I thought about our trip all the time. Random memories would flood my mind that were completely unrelated to what I was doing. While cooking dinner or driving to work, a sudden flash of the Andes in Ecuador or the market in Xela would steal my attention. We started off in Quito, Ecuador last January with no plan, somehow ending in Mexico about a year later. Everything between that time was completely unexpected, chaotic, humbling and beautiful.
Sometimes I image everyone we met exactly as I would like to always remember them – all at the same time. Like right now as I write this blog entry- there’s a mother in the Andes, sitting higher than the clouds as she spindles wool; Sr. Don Colon is approaching excited yet nervous travelers at the bus station in Mindo to stay with him in his big, beautiful home; Our Spanish teacher Carlos is walking a student around Cuenca, explaining all the social problems facing Ecuador; Someone is standing under Gocta Falls, tired and cold but completely mesmerized; Maga and Karol are sitting in the house we built for them in Tupac, smiling because they no longer freeze during the night; Our guide in the Amazon, William is taking travelers down the Manu River; girls from the shelter in Xela are playing computer games or practicing world geography, a woman is washing her family’s brightly colored clothes outside in the cold Cuchumantanes Mountains; and all the amazing travelers we met along the way are still wandering.
It’s hard to put into words what this trip has meant to me, but I know I’ve changed a lot. I left feeling grateful for everything around me- my supportive family and friends, a house to live in, a hot shower in the morning, a warm bed at night, a refrigerator full of food, and the rare knowledge that I can go where I want and do anything I want. I think its hard to fully appreciate those things until you’ve seen so many others living without it. With that perspective, although difficult to maintain at times, life feels so simple.
The random flashbacks are happening less and less as we move on with our lives at home. Sometimes it even feels like a dream. This movie was originally a Valentines Day gift for Ben but seemed like the perfect last post for this blog. These 6 minutes and 38 seconds attempt to summarize our year in Latin America.
UPDATE- I reset the video to public but if you still can’t watch it, this is the link to watch it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oWPDUgUw7o