Up, Up, & Away

Currently, it is 11:35 PM and I am sitting in bed. My alarm is set for 4:30 AM — just shy of five hours away from now (I know, mom! I’ll go to bed soon, promise). When that alarm goes off, I’ll embark on over twenty-four hours of international travel, my final destination being Cochabamba, Bolivia. Although this trip has been months in the making, it somehow has still snuck up on me with remarkable speed. Even after spending hours a) researching Bolivia and its culture and b) waiting in the passport office, I don’t think it will feel real until I step off my last plane entirely and breathe in that (reportedly) fresh, Cochabamba mountain air. Nonetheless, I could not be more excited to immerse myself in my work — tutoring children in math and English — and the rich Bolivian culture. However, I am not without reservations. I’m wary of my Spanish ability, which, while conversational, is about as rusty as possible. Even more so, I fear that a lack of safety will inhibit me from interfacing with Cochabamba — its people, culture, and land — as fully as I would like. I’ve always been a bit of a lone ranger that likes to go off the beaten path, and I don’t like the prospect of being forced to tame that instinct because of risk. This is especially frustrating considering the reality of being a woman in a foreign country — I’ll have to exercise more caution, even though I really don’t want to.

That being said, there is a lot that I’m really looking forward to. As a college student, I sometimes feel like I don’t get to interact with babies and generally small humans enough. This is evidenced by an intense rush of emotion (and occasional tears) whenever I see the train of babies roll through campus from the local daycare. One of my placement’s primary responsibilities is to play, interact with, and teach kids of all different ages, which is a task I’m all about. I’ve actually been honing my piggy-back ride technique for months in preparation. I’m also excited at the prospect of a spending such a long time away from the United States by myself. Whenever I’ve traveled in the past, I always left still feeling like a visitor — I hope this more immersive experience makes me feel less like a tourist and more like a resident. The prospect of lots of solitude and time for reflection in a beautiful, unfamiliar place is nothing short of tantalizing after one of the busiest years of my life.

When I survive my day full of airports, layovers, and uncomfortable airplane seat naps, I’ll finally arrive at my home for the next six weeks. Stay tuned for more of my musings (of which there will be many) and what I learn along the way. Thanks for reading!

Juliet

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