Monday, November 7, 2016

One Year in South America

I sit in a hostel in Cartagena, Colombia. Cartagena lies on the Caribbean Ocean at the northern tip of South America and has a very Caribbean vibe to it. In one year of traveling I've moved from a Patagonian (Chile) port city that sends boats to Antarctica to one with a heavy Cuban influence.

One year ago I flew from Denver, CO USA to Buenos Aires, Argentina with a goal of seeing the world. I was driven, in part, by this quote from Mark Twain:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

Mostly, though, I was driven by curiosity -- exploration and discovery (both internal and external) are things I value greatly. I love the constant discovery of new places, delicious food, interesting people, gorgeous landscapes and different cultures. There is no boring routine when traveling like this. There is no knowledge of what might happen next. It's like every day is Christmas morning and I'm constantly unwrapping gifts full of (mostly) wonderful surprises.

Those values are still close to my heart.

When I left I really didn't know how much I would enjoy constant travel, living out of a backpack, and sleeping in hostel dorm rooms. I wasn't sure if after 6 months I might have had enough of this lifestyle. What would it be like to be homeless?
Magellan Strait as seen from Patagonian Chile

After traveling constantly for one year I can say that I really enjoy it. Sure, I still fantasize about having a home base in the mountains near a ski area. And, yeah, I miss my friends and family. But right now I still want to continue to see the world. The daily sense of wonder and discovery is just too amazing to stop.

I also want to better understand different cultures and different points of view. You may be reading this in the USA on or around Election Day 2016 when it seems like nobody has the capability of understanding how other people came to have their belief system. The people voting for the other candidate seem crazy or out-of-touch or just plain stupid.

I thought that way once, too. But the experiences I've had have helped immensely in my personal growth. Try sitting in complete silence meditating for 10 straight days without challenging your own belief system. Try spending a week in the jungle drinking ayahuasca in a traditional medicinal plant ceremony and not having your inner fears and wounds held up in front of your face, demanding to be reckoned with. Try easing into the growing majesty of Patagonian peaks like Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy without being overcome with gratitude for all the people who helped you get there. Try spending 20-hour bus rides talking with citizens from every corner of the globe and not developing a greater empathy for everyone, including Trump supporters.

Traveling and allowing myself the time for personal growth has been amazing.

Plains and mountains in northern Chile

At the end of January I will be flying to Japan where I will accomplish two important tasks. First, I will be starting the Asia portion of my adventures. Very exciting (and a little daunting because..damn..that's a gigantic continent to try to tackle). Second, and perhaps more importantly, I will be skiing the now world famous powder snow of northern Japan. Ja-Pow! I haven't gone skiing in two years and can't wait to remedy that.

Also, I'm developing a small business that I hope will allow me to help people while continuing to travel or live anywhere in the world. It's brand new version 1.0 and my goal is to help adult children of dying parents better manage the stress of that difficult time.

In early December I have some dedicated time set up in Playa del Carmen, Mexico with a group called Nomad House to focus on building out the business. The service will be growing and evolving over the coming months. Please share it with anyone you think could benefit.

Here's my travel map so far. I update it as I move to new destinations. Click it to see my route and get a little info about the places I've been so far.

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