"If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time. But if you have come here because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together" -Lilla Watson, Aboriginal Activist

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pura Mochilera

These are the days of change, the days of exploration.

Less than 24 hours after I rang the Peace Corps bell that marked the end of my time as a PCV and the beginning of my time as an RPCV, I boarded a night bus top Flores, Peten, where I'd begin my 2-month backpacking adventure. I've never backpacked alone before, and I vowed that this experience would positively frame my imminent return to the US of A.  I'm now two weeks in and having the time of my life.  Being a backpacker coincidentally requires many of the same "skills" that I picked up during my PC service--being okay with a total lack of privacy, for example, rolling with the punches, living without regular access to technology, expecting nothing to go according to schedule, and being open to having awkward conversations with strangers of all sorts.  Living oh-so-frugally and, of course, being a bit of a problem solver when the occasion presents itself.  So far, I am loving my vida mochilera (backpacker life).  I´ve met all sorts of incredibly interesting people (many of them solo travelers like myself), I've challenged myself to try new things.  And perhaps most importantly, I've learned that this life is not necessarily something I have to give up.  I've met so many people who have managed to build their lives around backpacking, traveling, diving, and volunteering while still having a career and a family and a place to call home.  The backpacking life is not glamorous, and it's not confined to the wealthy.  It's a life of penny-pinching resourcefulness, long and uncomfortable bus rides, and haggling for minutes over the equivalent of one US dollar.  But it's an incredibly exhilarating experience that I'm in no hurry to put behind me.

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