Sunday, May 30, 2010


You know you are on a bus in Ecuador when the seats are oversold and yet the driver still picks up passengers to stand in the aisles for hours of the journey. You can buy helado, ice cream, and other snacks from the vendors who enter and exit the bus without it coming to a complete stop. You have at least 3 close calls during each taxi ride. Motorbikes weave between cars stopped at stop lights. Horns are used as a warning that your driver is making a close pass. Speed limits, stop signs, and driving lanes are mere suggestions. You can buy a ticket for a town three hours away for three dollars and sixty cents. But the return trip takes you seven hours, due to holiday traffic and congestion. You see a car marked student driver and you think how is this ever possible? Young people juggle bowling pins and meat cleavers for change at stop lights. You can read lots of interesting graffiti, some of the most common being: (insert name here) te amo (I love you). Plane tickets can be rescheduled at boarding time, no fees added. You still see fliers for individual guitar lessons plastered to light poles. The cool kids still sit in the back of the bus. There is always music played on the system. Or on someone's cell phones. And oftentimes, both. There are party buses that don't have seats, but have loud stereos, disco balls, and party lights. The taxi driver hands you the newspaper on a long fare, so after you've read a story, he can discuss it with you. Children sing for change and sell candy on the trolly. Everyone claps when the plane lands. People sell lottery tickets, fruits, steering wheel covers and other random things at stop lights. Riding a taxi in Quito is as close to riding in a rocket ship as I will ever get.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Be Here Now

Well, classes are done, and I have only two finals left before graduation. I'm so excited for my family to come visit me for a few days, I'm not sure when I'll be with them again... Many friends have already left, for jobs, for travel. It still hasn't hit me yet that I'm done here, and when I do return, I probably won't be coming back to Colorado. Actually, this probably won't hit me until I'm on my way to the airport.

My sister told me the other day that despite all the stress and never-ending lists of things still to do before departure, to enjoy these last few moments of school, of time with these friends, of time in this place. I realized that I am usually feeling nostalgia for the past, or excitement from planning my future. I don't often take comfort in the present, especially when I am busy and stressed out. Probably because I am caught up in a feeling that there is no end to this! But how untrue.

I want to slow down more and re-evaluate the stakes at hand, breathe deeply and say, "It is what it is." Even my most stressful days are still due to accomplishments I've made, goals I've reached, current challenges I'm undertaking. And if I didn't care about something, it wouldn't bother me. Edward Abbey says that love implies anger. That if you don't care passionately about anything, nothing can get you riled up, elated, or disappointed. There is a famous quote that I feel sums up this dilemma perfectly;

"Happiness is a journey, not a destination. for a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. but there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. at last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. this perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. happiness is the way. so treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one." Souza

To me, one of the worst things in life is not knowing when you are saying a goodbye. It's important to me to have this knowledge prior and to seek out an appropriate ending, some closure, a peaceful moment to send a farewell. And while I have begun this process of getting closure with the people and places around me, I want to continue to do this everyday. To think of it as the only moment that matters. To take it all in like the first or last time, every time.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I have three days left of classes, one major presentation, and three finals left of my undergraduate career. Forever. And while I am so ready to get through this next week, it's starting to feel a little strange. I'm glad that I have immediate plans after graduation, returning to the island of San Cristobal to teach English until January. Many of my classmates don't have any plans, and are really starting to get scared. I can relate, because even though I know what I'll be doing next, and it is already somewhat familiar, it feels uncertain due to the process of transition.

For the past three years I have lived in Fort Collins and been a college student, for the past five I have lived in Colorado. I felt young like a student and lived as cheaply as possible like a student and worked part time during the semester. Now, in about six weeks I'll turn 27 years old. (Gasp!) I know this isn't old, but it kind of sounds too old to be true. I haven't really felt like I've been aging (changing and growing, yes, but not getting older), in the last several years, but all of a sudden, I'm so close to 30! It makes me ponder where I'll be and how much I have accomplished in three more years when I hit that milestone...

Being a poor college student is a normal and expected stereotype. It's also entertaining: people feed you because they assume you live off of pizza and Ramen noodles. Sometimes your boss takes you out to eat. Friends who aren't in college treat you for coffee. But I'm no longer a poor college student. Now I'm just poor.

My goals are still changing, and along with them, my needs. I am currently in the best relationship of my life, and I'm realizing that through all my independence, I want to compromise some things to keep this wonderful companion. I feel a stronger need to stay in touch with friends and family. It seems as if everyone is getting married, having kids, moving across the country, leaving the country, etc. Also, I'm leaving a home that I've created five years ago, unsure of when I will ever return, if only for a visit.

I feel like volunteering right after school is the best situation for me. A chance to go somewhere and do something that I love, while getting used to being out of school and making time to do lots of things I've missed out on while being a student. Reading what I find enjoyable, for instance. I used to be such a bookworm and I miss that! I would be reading two or three, sometimes more, books at a time. Being able to pick up and go somewhere spontaneously is another big one, and this move back to the Galapagos definitely happened suddenly. Just being enveloped in day-to-day life, instead of being preached at about theory for several hours a day. Taking what I've learned and decide what to keep and what to dismiss, according to my reality. Going out there and seeing what I can contribute to the world around me. I can picture myself traveling to teach English as a Foreign Language, while volunteering in conservation projects and travel writing for the next few years. Who knows what will develop from that? I still have a goal to apply to Peace Corps before I'm 30. But right now, this is the dream that I am making a reality.