Thought #11: Transition.

Excerpt from “Between the World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates:

“I was one wrong ticket from Vienna, Milan, or some Alpine village that no one I knew had ever heard of. It happened right then. The realization of being far gone, the fear, the unknowable possibilities, all of it -the horror, the wonder, the joy- fused into an erotic thrill… And at that moment I realized that those changes, with all the agony, awkwardness, and confusion were the defining fact of my life, and for the first time I knew not only that I really was alive, that I really was studying and observing, but that I had long been alive- even back in Baltimore. I had always been alive.”

Lately, I’ve been crying a lot. Silently, in solitude. I find pockets in my day and space to release the spillage of tears that built up from small reminders of South America. I constantly struggle with wanting to share everything with my loved ones and battle with fear of oversharing and borderline bragging. So I stay quiet. I quip about a few things here and there but not even I have encompassed the enormity of it all. 

I’m crying right now. 

Female. Backpacker. South America.

IMG_6552 1

I’m usually an impulsive person, a habit that has gotten me into more unforgettable memories than regrets. For the most part, I get these foreign surges to live in the moment, live my best life, live like there is no tomorrow. There were moments during my planning, where I wanted to throw the towel in and leave right then and there. But alas, I planned for a year and here I am, nine months later in a hostel in Buenos Aires, nearing the end of my trip.

Before I left, I scoured the internet for valuable information on solo female backpackers in South America. As expected, 1) There weren’t many posts and 2) It seemed the dangers and tales of Latin America has infiltrated to novice backpackers. SO! Here, I will contribute my grain of sand on traveling tips and essentials that I have greatly needed and highly recommend:

Here’s a quick profile on who I am, perhaps relatable. I graduated uni, worked for a year, lived with my parents, saved my money. Why did I travel? Because for most of my young life, I have lived in the United States, endured comments of being “exotic, spicy food, salsa.” I wanted to truly understand if these stereotypes really applied for most of South America. And if you are part of any minority in the United States, you will understand that regardless of where you are truly from you are categorized into being Asian/Pacific Islander, Latino/Hispanic, Black, or White, that’s it. Being a Latin American in the US means you are to know about all of the cuisine, Bolivian, Peruvian, Colombian, you must dance merengue and bachata, otherwise you are “too white.” Tough right? My second reason is much simpler, I wanted to improve my Spanish.

Lil more: I’m not much of hiking or any sort of physical activity kind of person. I was a bit concerned about my physical state pre-trip, but there’s sooo much else to see it wasn’t a problem, most of the time. 

I have been to: Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

Clothes:

Latin America is often painted as a tropical fruity terrain with an abundance of colors and sounds. Half of that stereotype is correct, the heat… not so much. Keep in mind the South American continent has a large backbone running from Colombia all the way down to Chile. The Andes. A breathtaking mountain range that is accompanied with stifling cold temperatures and absolutely no heating systems anywhere in the countries that border it (or so it seemed). Also, contrary to very basic popular belief, there are seasons down south. There are scorching summers, breezy autumns, and cold winters. Be prepared for any temperature. I packed:

Faces: Ecuador

 

2017 has been a roller coaster of a year, for many humans around the world and for me, personally. One such change that has drastically allowed me to view life differently (for the better), is to have no expectations. This practice has brought me many wonders and permitted me to appreciate smaller less noticeable experiences and relationships. Therefore, I decided to take my perspective and apply it to a country, and what an unexpected enchanting verdant gem I stumbled upon.