Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mindo & beyond

DEC 27, 2011

Christmas day for us this year was a very low-key affair, partly due to the excellent Christmas dinner hosted by the hostel on the 24th. It was well-attended by staff, their families, and guests, an interesting and very fun mix of German, French, Swiss, Canadian and Ecuadorean folks. Aside from some of the Ecuadoreans, I believe I was the only uni-lingual person there. It was interesting to note that among the Europeans, English became the default language since the French-speakers and the German-speakers couldn’t speak each other’s languages, and spoke Spanish in varying degrees, but could all speak English. Of course, when interacting with the hostel staff and their families, we all spoke Spanish as best we could. Sam and I have typically avoided international hostels in our travels, tending to prefer locally-owned, family-run hotels or hostels where we experience more local flavour. I found it very interesting to experience how, as the only guest there who could speak only one language fluently, it was my own language that everyone defaulted to. Convenient, but bizarre, and even somewhat embarrassing.

Anyway, it was a heckuva good party, and a very good time was had by all. The meal was excellent – some kind of chicken stroganoff sort of thing, served with salad and rice – and we made sure to tip the cook and servers well since they were working on their party night. The motto “eat, drink and be merry,” was the prevailing theme for the night, and I expect there were more than a couple of sore heads the next morning.

We laid pretty low on the 25th, resting, reading, and feasting on pizza delivered right to our door – not quite the roasted turkey with all the trimmings that I’m accustomed to, but just fine nonetheless. The next day dawned clear and bright, and so did we, so after celebrating my birthday with a cup of coffee and toast, we packed our gear and prepared to hit the road. Our first stop was the Institute for Military Geography, where we selected a couple of topographical maps, which we hope will encourage us to get trekking in this bountiful, beautiful land. After that, we hopped on a bus to Mindo.

Mindo is one of those places that can easily be dubbed “God’s Garden.” It’s a tropical paradise, known as a cloud forest, due to the clouds that gather atop the trees, maintaining constant moisture and the lush green plant life this area is known for. Mindo is also renowned for its diverse bird life, and is why Sam and I could be found – awake! – at 5:00 this morning, heading to a bioreserve to witness the mating dance of the “gallo de la peña” or “cock of the rock.” The male of the species is bright red, and one would think (or at least, I did) that being so bright it should be easy to spot even in dense foliage. One would be wrong, however, and every glimpse of the red feathers was very exciting as a result. We also saw a very large woodpecker of some sort, hummingbirds a-plenty, and, to my great excitement, even a female quetzal (less rare than the male, but exciting nonetheless). The quetzal is exciting to spot, for me, because of its association to Mayan spirituality. The son of God in Mayan tradition is named Quetzalcoatl, a feathered serpent. The quetzal is named so because when the male flies, its tail feathers (astonishingly beautiful long feathers) look like a serpent undulating. (There’s a whole lot more to this correlation that I won’t go into here, but you can look it up.) The quetzal is also an endangered species as a result of deforestation. At any rate, it was an exciting thing to spot.

We’re spending tonight in a little wooden cabin in a garden paradise, which so far at least, seems much more peaceful than the hostel we were in last night – it was a nice place with nice people, but the walls were thin enough to make me wonder if there were actually people in the room with us, and (sigh) the roosters started awfully early, especially when we had a 4:00am start this morning.

One unanticipated point of interest on our jaunt to the park this morning was the brightness of the stars in the still-dark sky. As we drove, I saw the Big Dipper out my car window, upside down and low on the horizon, reminding us that the night sky here is totally different from what we’re accustomed to north of the Equator. I have to look up the Southern Cross star pattern so I know what to look for!

Having seen the birds and experienced the rain and clouds, we feel ready to move on. Tomorrow after breakfast, we’ll pack up and catch a bus around the mountain and into the lowlands, heading south. As beautiful as Ecuador is, it’s a country very focused on tourism and it’s easy to get sucked into the tourist track – fun, but expensive, and not why we’re here.

DEC 31, 2011

Now that I have internet again, I can finish this post...
We hopped on a bus the other day and spent about 10 or 11 hours traveling from Mindo to Guayaquil, which I'm pretty sure is in an alternate universe. We went from a small town with mud roads to a city that could easily have been NY or Chicago, except that at 11:30pm, everything was closed. It was fascinating, but definitely not what we're looking for, so yesterday we hopped on another bus and came to Cuenca.

Cuenca is another beautiful historic town, like Quito but somehow more real - in the heart of the historic centre,there are still real people doing normal things. It's been fascinating so far, and we're looking forward to heading out this afternoon to investigate a couple of Incan archaeological sites. First, however, I need to pick up our clean clothes so that we actually have something to wear out and about.

We haven't quite decided how we'll ring in the New Year tonight, but given the ongoing celebrations, it won't be hard to find people to join. Fireworks and firecrackers have been going non-stop since we arrived yesterday afternoon.

I'll leave this here for now. Wishing you all the happiest of New Year's celebrations and all the best for 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas is coming

It's a strange thing for me to be south of the equator 2 days before Christmas. For one thing, this is the first time I've ever been away from my family for Christmas and my birthday. For another, it's hot (at least until about 2:00pm) and while the west coast of BC isn't always white and snowy at this time of year, it's rarely at the 25C range. And finally, I'm avoiding (for the most part) the chaos that abounds at this time of year. No baking, no Christmas cards, no shopping, cleaning, or gift wrapping. It leaves me feeling a bit disconnected from the usual festivity of the season.

On the other hand, I'm in Ecuador! We're still in Quito, having arrived here on Monday, and not scheduled to depart until this coming Monday (we came in on Sam's birthday and leave on mine). Somehow, being somewhat disconnected from Christmas doesn't matter too much in light of all the excitement of being back on the road.

It was a challenging few months leading up to the decision to come back south. I was so sure that it was time to settle back down, find work, get an apartment, etc. Money, obviously, is always an issue, and being an unemployed vagabond does not do wonders for the bank account. But when I sat down and really thought about what feels good - it wasn't such a hard decision at all. Both of us feel so much healthier and happier when we're south. We both thrive in this climate. We left our beloved van, LulaBelle, parked in Victoria, and are back to being turtles, carrying our homes on our backs. We are walking everywhere, hours every day, and getting healthier and stronger all the time.

So this year, I'm observing Christmas from a bit of a distance. As locals scurry around doing their last-minute shopping (who can't relate to that?), Sam and I have been taking advantage of everything Quito has to offer. We've spent hours in the old city, wandering around and enjoying the beautiful architecture and artistic, spiralling design of that part of the city. We've ventured into Gringolandia (a term we thought Sam coined, but is now used by taxi drivers, the Lonely Planet, and who knows who else), more formally known as the Mariscal, a very trendy neighbourhood full of backpackers, hostels, expensive restaurants, and shopping up the yin-yang. We have nosed about in every backpacker gear store we've found (quite a lot, actually) looking for maps (they don't sell them) and prudently not buying all other neat things they do sell.

We've also delved into the cultural aspects of the city. Yesterday we toured an art gallery that had a display of Salvador Dali's illustrations. I know he's supposed to be a genius, but honestly, I just found all the work weird and disturbing and couldn't make heads or tails out of what they were supposed to be about. The other part of the gallery was a display of graphic art (graphic like comic book style, not racy or obscene), produced by contemporary Latin American artists. I liked their work a lot better. After that, we went to the museum at the Convent of San Franscisco. This museum displays "the most exquisite and important religious collection of cultural artifacts and works of art from artists who were part of the extraordinary Quitenian School," (to quote the back of my ticket). I don't know about the exquisite part, but it was certainly a large and interesting collection. I found myself trying hard to find the art works beautiful, and failing. It wasn't so much the subject matter - I'm a huge fan of the inspired religious works of Renaissance painters, for example - but rather that all the pieces seemed less about art and more about delivering a strong lesson about the religious teachings. That makes sense, I think, since art has been used to convey information to those who can't read, and 500 years ago, I would guess that these paintings were an important part of religious education. I have no objection to any of that - I just didn't really like the paintings.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and if we stick to our current plan, we'll head up to the Teleferico (a cable car system up a mountain) for some sightseeing. Not sure yet how we'll spend Christmas day, but on Monday, we'll celebrate my birthday by picking up topographical maps from the Institute of Military Geography and then catching a bus to Mindo. From there... who knows, except that we plan to put all our gear and our new topo maps to good use by trekking through the countryside and getting to know Ecuador intimately by foot!

Happy holidays, all! I hope you are enjoying the hustle and bustle and more importantly, that you enjoy time with friends and family when the hustle and bustle dies down.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oops! Editor's note...

As a former researcher, I should remember to fact-check before publishing. The basilica here in Quito was built in the 1890s, not 1492. That was when the Christianization of Latin America began.

I blame my still-improving Spanish reading skills for the error... but still, 400 years wrong is a rather obvious blunder, and the numbers in Spanish are the same - so that's a pretty feeble excuse! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

South America - the journey begins!

After leaving the Pacific Coast on December 6, we arrived in Panama City Beach, Florida, where we spent a lovely five or six days with family. The beach there is really amazing, all white sand that could easily be mistaken for sugar, and beautiful blue-green water of the Gulf of Mexico. It doesn’t get as hot there as in the southern part of Florida; we experienced temperatures more in the 15 C range, but it was so nice to be there and have such a good visit.

When it was time to go, we rented a car and drove to the Tampa area. We spent the night at a nice little hotel in Dunedin, where we had an excellent dinner with one of the best servers ever, and bright and early the next morning we were off to the airport.

We arrived in Cartagena, Colombia on December 12. Cartagena is a port city in the north of Colombia. It’s a popular stop for backpackers, at least in part because it’s the starting and/or landing point for sailing tours to and from Panama. We stayed at a little family-run hotel, called Casa de las Americas, tucked just around the corner from all the popular hostels. At $30 per night, it was a little more expensive than what we expected in Colombia, but it was clean, safe and the family was so nice.

Cartagena itself is quite a city to experience. The old city is really lovely, all done up in the Spanish colonial architecture. It’s quite pricey, as it’s the tourist area, but nice to walk around in. The area we stayed in was just a few blocks from that tourist area, and also close to the much cheaper food where the locals eat. It’s loud, and busy, and as Colombia has experienced an extreme amount of flooding this past year, it’s more chaotic and dirty than usual. All in all, it was very interesting, but we were ready to move on after our 2 nights there.

From Cartagena, we took a shuttle bus to Santa Marta, further north along the coast. Santa Marta is a popular destination for national tourists and being so close to Christmas, it was really busy. We found a great hostel, Casa Familiar, just two blocks from the beach (I wouldn’t swim there, personally, but it’s fun to walk along and see all the action). We arrived several hours later than expected, and in the middle of a downpour, so were very happy just to settle into our room for the night. After our second night, we packed up our camping gear, stored the unnecessary items (like the computer and the winter clothes) at the hostel, and headed to Parque Tayrona, a national park on the beach. We took local transit, which took about an hour and a half (ish) and upon arriving at the park, discovered that instead of hiking in to the beach, we could ride horses, which we did. (There is no road access past a certain point – all the restaurants and other establishments have their supplies brought in by horse.) It’s a fairly long, treacherous, muddy trip but oh-so-beautiful! By the time we got off the horses, we weren’t feeling too inspired to hike another hour on the beach. We stayed at a cheap campground in Arrecifes, about 10 minutes from where the trail from the park entrance ends.

It’s the rainy season in Colombia, but happily, our first night at Tayrona was dry and the next day dawned beautifully. We put on our swimsuits and hiked about a half hour down the beach to La Piscina, a part of the beach with a safe, sheltered place for swimming. The beach by our campground is amazing, but there’s a dangerous riptide and there have been over 100 deaths by drowning there, so swimming is prohibited. We spent the rest of the day hanging out in our hammocks at camp, and I made my first attempt at making arepa, a fried patty or pancake sort of thing made out of a sort of corn flour. Aside from not having the fire hot enough at first, and therefore taking a really long time to cook, they turned out okay. I think. We turned in pretty early and spent our second night in our new tent – which, I am happy to report, is entirely waterproof. It poured all night.

Despite the beauty of Tayrona, both Sam and I felt like Colombia was not really where we wanted to be, so when morning came and the tent was dry, we packed up our gear and hiked back out, opting to be our own packhorses this time. I think the hike was my favourite part of our time in Colombia. It took maybe a little over an hour, so it wasn’t too long, but it was challenging nonetheless. Our packs – somewhat lighter than usual – weighed about 15 kilograms or 33 pounds (give or take) and it was probably about 30 C. Hot! The trail starts out in giant mudholes, making us very grateful for our waterproof hiking boots, and carries on through the jungle and back out onto the beach. After about 10 or so minutes of trekking on sand (good exercise without the packs!), the trail heads back into the jungle – and rather steeply upward. I must have lost a kilo in sweat on the climb, but wow, was it beautiful! And so exhilarating!

So, hot, dirty, sweaty and (no doubt) very smelly, we arrived back at our hostel in Santa Marta, where we were relieved to find out they had a room for us, despite being very busy. After refreshing showers and a good meal, we sat down with our trusty computer to make travel arrangements and discovered that we could get a relatively inexpensive flight out the next day from Santa Marta to Quito, Ecuador. We opted to book the flight, rather than spending several days on buses across Colombia. When factoring in both bus tickets and food and accommodation over the course of several days (because there’s no way I can handle four days straight on a bus), we figure we saved both money and time.

We spent Sam’s birthday on airplanes and in airports, but arrived safely in Quito last night, and we are so happy to be here! If you only ever make one big international trip in your life, this is a city to visit. It’s in the mountains – we’re at 2,500 metres – surrounded by volcanoes. Today, it was sunny and hot, but it cools off quickly as the sun starts going down or if it clouds over. It seems to be averaging about 15 C with fairly frequent showers – so not that different from Victoria right now! A very comfortable climate, anyway. About five or six years ago, the government embarked on a massive restoration project in the old city, which is about 500 years old. The city plan and architecture are so beautiful, but the highlight so far has to be the Basilica. It was built in 1492 and is the most incredible building I’ve ever seen. I’ve toured a lot of cathedrals in Latin America, but this outstrips them all. It seems to have been all hand-carved out of stone – you can see the individual chisel marks – and has absolutely astounding stained glass windows. It’s a work of art, and in fact, so is the whole of the old city. There are beautiful parks, museums everywhere, lovely cafes and restaurants, and even free (and clean!) public restrooms scattered here and there. The streets are free from the gobs of litter that seem to plague other Latin American (and North American, for that matter) cities, and the police are the friendliest I’ve ever seen.

We are so glad to be here that we’ve decided to spend the week. We landed at a hostel last night called “L’Auberge Inn,” an excellent play on words that, when pronounced with a Spanish accent, comes out as “aubergine” (French for eggplant). It costs $24 per night for a room with a double bed and private bathroom, which in Ecuador isn’t actually very cheap. But it is quiet, it has the most comfortable bed I’ve slept in in years, an excellent hot shower, a restaurant, cheap beer, free Wifi, is in walking distance to the heart of the old city, and we get a discount for staying the week. We are delighted to be here.

Our Christmas (and therefore my birthday) plans are a bit up in the air still. Our room at the hostel is booked for Christmas night, so we may be on the move that day, which will feel strange to me. This is my first Christmas away from family in all of my (very close to) 37 years. But we made a new friend on the bus to Santa Marta who invited us to camp on his property in Mindo, which is just a short bus ride from Quito, so we may make our way there on time for Christmas dinner. No matter where we end up, I will celebrate Christmas and my birthday with all the love for my family and friends that I always do. And I can feel so grateful that unlike so many in this world, I will have food to eat and a place to sleep – even if there’s no room at the inn!

Feliz Navidad, loved ones. I hope the holiday spirit fills you with great joy and a lot of good food!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A new chapter

It's been approximately 16 months since I last wrote - dedicated, faithful blogger I am not. I have meant to write, have wanted to write, and goodness knows I've had plenty to say (when do I not?), yet I've been unable to get myself to sit down and say any of what's been on my mind.

I believe that everything happens in its own time (for those of you who've attended Sunday School and/or listened to The Byrds you will recognize from Ecclesiastes 3 or from the song Turn, Turn, Turn, “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven..." Anyway, I've noticed over the years, for example, that certain books will sit on my shelf for months or years at a time, unread, until one day I’ll suddenly pick up the book and devour it. I’ve found that for me, writing is like this. I will be inspired to write great swathes of material every day or every week, then suddenly stop writing for months or even years. And so, 16 months have passed since I last updated this blog.

I’m writing now because the need to write has been growing on me recently. It is a difficult feeling to describe – it started as a sort of random, fairly infrequent, thought that I really ought to start writing again or an idea that would come to mind that I should share. Then those random thoughts coalesced a bit, causing me to feel that I really have had a lot going on and I should be recording it all while it was fresh. Sometimes I got as far as sitting down at the computer to write, but I couldn’t get any further than that. Over the past several days, I’ve had the sensation that the time of writing was rushing toward me like a train. And now it’s here.

I won’t give you a detailed account of what I’ve been doing the last 16 months. I suppose it’s possible I’ll do a version of the annual Christmas letter to family that gives an overview, but that’s not what this post is about. Instead of an account of where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing, I am going to try to share what’s been on my mind lately – which, in essence, is the why as opposed to the what.

Those of you who know me well and/or those who followed this blog when it was still being updated regularly will know that one of my struggles in life has revolved around judgment and approval – I’ve had lots of the first, and needed lots of the second (clearly, these two things are related…). I’ve made a lot of decisions in my life based on what I thought other people would think of me. Leaving my job at the union was a monumental decision for me – first, that I actually managed to make a decision, and second, that I made a decision that had nothing to do with other people’s opinions – one, even, that could actually disappoint other people or lead to disapproval. Not my usual modus operandi. (For the record, no one I’ve stayed in touch with has ever expressed disapproval that I resigned my position, but happily, many of my excellent and esteemed colleagues have told me they were disappointed for the simple reason that they miss me.) The fear of evoking disapproval or anger or disappointment, the fear of loss of love, frequently causes me to be paralyzingly (is that a word?) indecisive.

Way back in February 2010, I wrote a blog post called “self-affirmations” (you can read it here It was (almost) the first time I’d ever really opened myself up so publicly – a private journal entry published on the internet! What’s next?! Amazingly, I didn’t lose my entire readership. In fact, some of you even told me you liked the blog better when I started sharing more of my real self. It was astonishing for me and oh-so-affirming. And yet my fear that others will judge me as harshly as I judge myself (and, I’m sorry to say, have judged others) has still prevented me from opening up about what’s been happening in my life all these months. Actually, that’s not really true. The problem isn’t so much my fear of the judgment of others, since I have already established several times over that I have a whole lot of loving support out there. The problem is that I doubt myself and have been struggling to accept the path I’ve set out on.

Tangent: I’m afraid this post is going to be a bit random, tangential, disorganized and might not always make a lot of sense. But if James Joyce can write gi-normous books using stream of consciousness, I can write a blog post that way.
When I first embarked on my leave of absence from the union to travel, I wrote this:

"I was just thinking about how to articulate what I'm looking for in this journey, and I discovered that I can't articulate it at all. I just know that I need to go. I have lost sight of what the meaning of my own life is here at home. I am tired. My work and activism no longer have the significance, the excitement, the sense of justice and purpose that they used to have. And so I am setting out to learn something new about the world and about myself."

Over the course of my travels in those months, I wrote about my need to find meaning, to learn about what I’d been fighting for as an activist, to learn to be less judgmental and more compassionate, and to allow myself to experience the deep sense of spirituality that I’d been hiding for such a long time. Part of that process was a need to disassociate from my life as a political and labour activist. Honestly, I’d completely lost faith in the ability of my activism to effect any change. I was completely burned out – but at the same time, full of optimism at the potential for positive change via my spiritual path.

This past year, while gloriously fun in many respects, has also been quite frustrating as I’ve attempted to find some kind of balance in my life. I resigned my position at the union a year ago. I embarked on another journey south, but somehow didn’t achieve the same sense of personal or spiritual fulfillment. I came back north thinking I would re-integrate into “normal” society, settle back down, find work, and find meaning in that process. But the truth is, that just doesn’t work for me anymore. It’s true that I haven’t put a huge amount of effort into finding a job – and there’s a reason for that. I don’t want one. I don’t think that I’m supposed to be participating in normal society right now. I think I’m supposed to be following a path that diverges from the norm and that some people may not understand. And that is where my fear of judgment and need for approval fits into this puzzle.

There is a part of me that has been desperately homesick this year. I have missed my family and friends. I’ve missed having a home. I’ve felt out of sync with the world because I don’t fit into the life I left in January 2010 and I haven’t figured out what I’m doing with myself. I worry about money. I worry that all the people I love and who love me worry about me and that I could alleviate that concern by coming home and getting an apartment and a job and … and what? Go back to being normal, but unhappy? I’ve written about my struggles with depression and I don’t want to go back to that. But what do I want? I go around and around in circles, but what I know to be true is this: when I am connected to my spiritual path, when I am living my life as a compassionate, loving person, I am happy. When I start worrying about money and about what other people might think and about what I “should” be doing, I am not happy.

I had a great conversation (via Facebook) with a good friend recently. I was telling him about trying to write this blog post, and how important I felt it was to share my ideas and experiences, but that I also was finding it really difficult to be open when my life path is so different from the norm. We talked about how life for most people is a linear progression – birth, school, graduations, marriage, children, retirement, grandchildren – and stepping outside that linear progression can be really uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable for me – after all, the norm is normal for good reasons! – and it can be uncomfortable for people who feel challenged by those who step off the beaten track.

I am a person who likes to be comfortable, physically, emotionally, mentally. I need a lot of encouragement to meet my challenges sometimes. It is hard for me to step outside my comfort zone – even when my comfort zone is being mopey or dependent on others for validation. It feels safer to come back to BC, find an apartment and job, be close to my support network. Why wouldn’t I be happiest surrounded by such amazing, loving friends and family?

The answers are all those things I learned on that first trip south: I am never apart from my friends and family. Geography is irrelevant. Spirit is NOT irrelevant. When we listen to that voice of wisdom inside ourselves, we will always be pointed in the right direction. Call it your higher self, call it spirit, God, the Universe, the aliens, or the little birdie that told you so – call it whatever you want but listen to it. It’s never wrong. I also learned on that trip, and am regularly reminded, that my friends and family are amazing! Whenever I start believing that no one will understand what I’m doing, whole heaps of you jump up and prove me wrong. Not one person in my life has expressed disapproval, or even confusion, at my choosing this path. No one has ever demonstrated discomfort or that they feel challenged by my choices. Only me – and trying to project that onto others is patently unfair.

I’ve spent the last year running around not listening to that truth inside myself, losing sight of my journey without even noticing. It’s a lot like the time in first year at UVic when I was walking back to my room in residence after a class. I had my nose in a novel as I was walking, totally absorbed in my book, when I suddenly looked up and found myself completely enmeshed in a hedge by the student union building. There was absolutely no clear path in or out. I had no idea how I got in there in the first place, but it was a real hassle (not to mention embarrassing) clawing my way back out. (That is a true story, by the way, but fortunately, I left no witnesses.) Well, I’ve recently looked up and found myself in the middle of another hedge.

Because I just really like being comfortable, and I don’t like things to be hard, and I got kind of lazy, I buried myself in a novel (both metaphorical and literal, actually). And in doing so, I stopped listening to that voice of wisdom inside myself and got lost in the hedge. So I’ve been really uncomfortable but haven’t wanted to accept responsibility for my own actions or feelings. I haven’t written anything lately because I’ve been all a-muddle and unfocused and convinced myself that it was because no one would understand my great spiritual journey. One step forward, two steps back.

Inevitably, being so conflicted in myself has led to the expression of that conflict within my relationship. It is far too easy to lash out at the person closest to me, and if I’ve avoided responsibility for my feelings by conjuring up the ol’ fear of judgement with the rest of you, it’s been doubly bad for my partner. Of course, there are two of us and therefore two sides to every conflict, etc. I have thought a lot about the idea of personal relationships being mirrors, where we see ourselves reflected in another person (not just in partnership, but any relationship). In fact, I think that is the point of most relationships – to see ourselves reflected and to learn from each other. It is not surprising that those reflections will sometimes bring us conflict, when we’re challenged by what we see, and other times great love and joy. We get what we bring. I am so glad to have a partner who believes, as I do, that by allowing ourselves to express both love and conflict, and by continuing to face those reflections even when they’re uncomfortable, we can transform ourselves and our relationship into something more and more beautiful.

So now I find myself back where I started from in January 2010. I am starting yet another new chapter. I have a new backpack, a new sleeping bag, a new lightweight cook set. I have a renewed commitment to my partner and a renewed sense of purpose. I have a (hopefully) resuscitated blog.

This time, we are going to South America. We are starting in Colombia and working our way south from there. We have no return ticket booked. We don’t know how long we’ll be gone, or what we’ll see or do when we get there. But we do know that we both have changes to make in our lives and in our relationship, and we want to do that work together. We choose to travel, to learn about ourselves by experiencing other cultures, to grow as individuals and as partners by participating in and building peaceful, sustainable, spiritual communities. We choose to express our commitment to social and environmental activism and global harmony by “being the change we want to see in the world.” We choose to express our activism through our belief in spiritual interconnectedness – by becoming positive, vibrant, loving, compassionate beings, we will create a world that reflects those qualities. In these choices, we are not so different after all.