Thursday, May 31, 2012

What a Year!

Today marks my anniversary with the Galapagos Islands... one year ago today I found myself hopping aboard a boat and sailing the rocky seas!

I look back on everything I've done in the past 14 months.. and I'm quite amazed!!!  I traveled alone.. although I never really ended up being alone.  And I am without a doubt 100% confident in recommending solo-backpacking to everyone I meet.. given they be careful.  I fell in love with trekking.  I saw amazing things that the world hadn't deemed 'amazing'.. like playing pool with 2 old Colombian men in ponchos in the middle of no where.. I saw things the world deems 'amazing', but what I felt was a mediocre Disney Land ride at best ::cough:: Machu Picchu.  I hosted my first Couch Surfer in Korea, I surfed on my first 'couch'.. floor futon.. in Japan.  I got a CELTA certificate through Cambridge University.  I'm nearly finished with my 1 year stint in Korea.. and I CANNOT wait to get back home to my loving family and friends!!!

Looking back...
I think the treks were my most daring accomplishments... I never would have imagined I would be physically or mentally capable of them, it was never something I imagined myself doing.. but I did it anyways.. trek to The Lost City in Colombia (6 days), Huaraz (4 days) & Colca Canyon (2 days) in Peru..  I would say those experiences helped me grow... A LOT!

I also saw THE Galapagos Islands, and THE Amazon Jungle... two things that I never would have dreamed I would see when I was younger.  You read about them, you think "Oh, someone got there somehow, to take these pictures that are in our text book.. that's lucky."  But I'm just so happy that I figured out how, and then I went out and did it!

I met so many amazing people along the way on my first ever solo-backpacking trip of 4 least 10 of which I still keep at least monthly contact with!  Each person I met taught me something new about the world, people and myself.  My 'best friends' I met in Colombia, Sean and Luca, still have their friendship bracelets on, legit.  Sean is in Sri Lanka with his girlfriend, Luca is finishing up his doctorate degree in England.  My new Colombian friends, Jorge & Andrea opened their doors for us and let me experience their culture first hand.. they now have a baby.. Henry taught me how to Salsa!  The two Aussies (Vanessa & Joss) I met while trekking up to The Lost City and later traveled with for 3 weeks throughout Colombia, and saw once in Ecuador.. they have a baby girl now!  Leigh, who took the CELTA course with me, he is now teaching in Colombia.  The girls, Colo and Mandy, that I met while taking my CELTA.. they're still living the Cumbia life in Montanita.. they know exactly how to make a girl jealous!  And Nicki who I met on my Huaraz trek in Peru, she is about to move to DC to be an elementary school teacher! Lucky me.. we will hopefully be traveling in India together next summer!

Given, my return to Korea was a tough one.. I had only 2 weeks post-backpacking to say "Hi" then "Bye" to my amazing family and friends... and my first semester as a University English instructor was sort of rough!  BUT, my time here got better.  I met some amazing ladies, Chelsea, Rehana & Ali.. and now I have 3 new best friends to add to my list!  It's amazing, when you move to another country.. your friends become your family away from family.  These girls are like sisters to me.. and even though Chelsea left a month ago.. I got to re-visit her in Japan!!

Although this year has been chock full of excitement... I am thankful for everything I have been able to experience, not just what I've seen.  I thank God for every day I have been given.. for my friends and family.. and for smiling faces!

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