It STILL hasn’t hit me yet. I’m not sure when it will, probably when I’m laying under a mosquito net in BFE (Ecuador that is, not Egypt). How do you even prepare for 2 years in a foreign country? I really have no concept of what my life will be like in a few short months. I’ve read about a million and a half volunteer blogs but it’s impossible to know what it will be like. That’s why people do this though, right? My friend asked me the other day where I was going. ‘Ecuador.’ ‘Yeah but where?’ ‘I have no idea.’ ‘What exactly are you doing once you get there?’ ‘I have no idea.’ I do know I won’t be left high and dry at the airport and that’s all that really matters. And if I am, well I’ll figure my shit out. Sometimes you just have to go.

I made it to Columbia again last weekend despite one of the most harrowing travel experiences I’ve ever had. I woke up Friday morning, realized I missed my bus and PANICKED, like for real panicked. Mostly because I knew this was probably my last opportunity to see some people before I left. I found a last minute flight to St. Louis, scooped up my oversize purse with a few things I’d packed the night before, and headed for the Blue Line train. Let’s just say O’Hare is not the airport to try to navigate in 30 minutes. I got off the L about 5pm and realized I had no idea which of the 5 terminals I needed to be at. I literally ran through the airport, hopped on the skytrain, and ran to security in Terminal 3. Thank god for the lady at the express check-in booth who let me jump about 50 people in the security line. I actually made my 5:30 flight with 10 minutes to spare. That’s right, 20 minutes flat to get through Chicago O’Hare, one of the busiest airports in the world.

I had a great weekend catching up with old and recent friends. It was sad though, the I-cried-at-a-bar kind of sad. Everything will be so different when I come back and I think that’s what makes me the saddest.

When not crying at bars and running through airports, I’ve been trying to figure out how not to look like this lady.

My task entails fitting everything into 80 pounds of luggage that I can easily carry by myself over rocky roads and up and down stairs. Once again, how do you even do that? I’m sure it will take some sort of engineering miracle to accomplish this. Maybe I’ll channel my dad, who always seemed to pack everything perfectly for our 3-week-long, cross-country family vacations. In the process of trying to figure out how to do this, I’ve realized how much of a planner I am, especially when it comes to packing. As much as I love the jumping-on-random-buses-ducking-into-hidden-shops kind of travel, packing is the one area that doesn’t work out so well for me when I leave it to chance. I’ve compiled quite a ridiculous color-coded excel spreadsheet, I’m probably definitely overthinking it.

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