I am a horrible backpacker…

So, I have decided I dislike backpacking.  It is fun for about a week at a time and then moving around and different people get tiring.  You miss the really cool person you met in the other town but who was flying back to Australia or flying to the US for another leg of their trip.  I hate riding on buses especially with almost everything I own in areas where robberies are not uncommon.  I prefer to fly or take a tourist bus.  I also prefer to stay in one place for a longer time.  Get to know the baker and grocery store owner and the guy that sells papayas and mangos.

So I am staying in Gautape on a work exchange at a hostel for a couple of weeks.  Guatape is a gorgeous little town nestled into mountains on a huge reservoir that was created in the 1960s for power generation.  It buried a town called I think El Penol under water.  There is still a steeple under water that people apparently gather around in boats for an Easter service.  There is a big rock with 740 steps to the top of the little tower on top with tourist shops on the top and bottom.  There are wonderful views of the reservoir and surrounding villages and gorgeous houses.

There are waterfalls, hiking paths, great vistas, a monastery, lots of boating and kayaking, and a lot of tourist things to do on the weekends, such as party boats, little paddle boats shaped lie tractors with large plastic wheels, jet skis, private boat tours, touristy shops, and games, etc.  During the week, however, there is a whole lot of nothing going on except backpackers going on treks and school kids running around at lunch and after school.  I have been able to see a marching band and color gaurde practicing, a small wedding, people watching the same futball game at every tienda or restaurant, and since I am getting a bit of a rapport with a few locals I am practicing my Spanish more and I am taking Spanish lessons.

I even got asked for directions today.  Though, when I asked for her to repeat where she wanted to go because I was somewhat dumfounded someone thought I would be able to provide directions and speak Spanish, she stopped.  The sad part is I just was studying directions and might have been able to answer properly in Spanish but the man she was with was English speaking and she just deferred me to him sort of hiding behind him.  Most people here just smile or if they know any English want to say hi to me in English.  Occasionally I try to strike up a conversation with old ladies who are incredibly amused at my attempts and usually end up laughing in fits at me.  It is kind of funny.

In other news I found out how to use a vpn to watch hulu.  It feels much more normal sticking it out in one place, cooking dinner, going on hikes everyday, seeing familiar faces, and watching the sunset with a Colombian cerveza (beer).

Well here are the pictures!

Medellin

Guatape

Quick Update!

Finally, after several attempts (I will try to clear up the duplicates!) have all pictures up from 4 days at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore in northern lower peninsula Michigan.  Beautiful dune buffs!

Also, I am about to be on my first leg of flights to Cartagena Colombia!  Yay!

Here we go!

 

Drought

Drought of Posts

I know it is has been a while since I posted anything! I even have drafts written I never submitted. I have no excuse, I have simply not felt like posting things. This happens to me a lot when I am at my parents. Keeping up any kind of schedule is almost impossible, mom works on spur of the moment and she smokes so much I immediately am assaulted with respiratory problems and sore throats. I need to get over it, so here I am in town spending some time smoke free, dog free, dog poop free, and mostly going places to use the free, unlimited and fast internet. Such an easy solution.

Drought of Photos

This drought is over. I had a hard time misplacing things when I got to Michigan because you have to get everything away from the dogs who will chew everything and anything. I lost my phone and batter charger for my camera. I am happy to announce though I have been taking pictures for the last couple weeks and the drought is over!

Nashville Nights ( I was just passing through one night, it’s even crazier than New Orleans)

Mammoth Cave (Really not good photos – I am not good at that lighting, the tour was rushed, and honestly it was boring, more to come about that.  Oh and I forgot to reorient pictures into portrait.  I am sorry.)

Michigan Summer

Drought of Cash

I have been hesitant to spend much since I know I will have to have enough money in savings to go to pay my loans for 2 years while in the Peace Corps. So I have been a very boring person.  I have been reading a lot of 99 cent and free Kindle books.  Going for walks. Spending time with family and my dog.  Also trying to keep up with the unemployment thing. I actually had to fly down to Florida for a meeting to learn how to apply for jobs on the internet.  The Florida unemployment system seems ridiculous, they have all my information and yet someone hacked their account and changed the settings so that everyone spoke Polish, was Hispanic and a migrant worker. And the letter they sent me used text type (pls).  Hopefully I can get into the Peace Corps and get a part-time job for in between once I get back.  There are no jobs in my field available at the moment for my level.  Seem to be above or below me.  I have to search for five jobs per week for unemployment. So far no hits. Lots of spam and scams.

But, I am thinking of going up to Sleeping Bear Dunes north of here if I can let my mom borrow one of her cars or get my car to act normal.  Oh, did I mention in Asheville I found out my car has seven, yes SEVEN, oil leaks. My dad just put two quarts of oil in for me.  Such a nice guy.   Either way, Sleeping Bear Dunes is a national park voted Good Morning America’s “Most Beautiful Place in America” contest in 2011.  It is on the coast of Lake Michigan and has dunes, bluffs, forest and apparently a lot of ticks this year because of the mild winter.  I have never been.

Real Drought

While driving through Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana is was very apparent that there was a horrible drought occurring.  It honestly was as brown as fall.  Where I am at now it is not too bad, but south of here in Michigan it is pretty bad. Thoughts and hopes of rain for all the farmers and those who depend on the agriculture market for survival.  Everything here is so green and luscious looking.  I can pick fruit and vegetables out of the garden and wild blackberries on my hikes through the woods.  It is sad to see so many places so brown.

Detours and Road Blocks

Detour Before it Begins

Things will always go wrong if they can go wrong.  Isn’t that Murphy’s Law or something?  Every time things go wrong I have to believe it is to put me on an even better path or else I might go crazy.  First my oil sending unit (?) burst in Winter Haven, thankfully in front of a shop.  I got the car fixed for only $20 if I got an oil change at the same time, an oil change I had been putting off.  Only I missed yoga and did not get to the restaurant on time for a seat and got to bed so late I did not get to do the trail the next day and yoga got rained out Sunday also.  I however rested, spent time with S, and caught up.  It was not what I planned but it was a good time.  I would not have traded the extra time with S for everything going right, we had our famous deep philosophical talks.  I miss them.

Tropical Storm Debbie

Then there was Tropical Storm Debbie.  I was going to Savannah to walk around and take pictures and stopping in Jacksonville, FL first to see the massage therapist that changed my life by turning me onto yoga for healing my body.  So instead of just moving on from Jacksonville, I looked up some couch surfing (as I have yet to actually couch surf) and who should be on there but the same massage therapist.  So I asked if he knew anyone able to take a couch surfer and surf his spare bed I did.  I got to know him and his family more, including his completely adorable 8 month old son.

Keith also suggested a place I could see in Georgia would be the Hostel in the Forest.  I thought I would not be able to go because I needed to take pictures in Savannah, right?  Well Debbie decided to slow down and not go anywhere.  Stay one more night with my new friends or continue on?  I felt I really needed to cross the Florida border, as if the storm was testing me and my resolve to really start this trip I had been putting off for so long in my life.  So what is one tiny tropical storm to get in my way?  Right?

A mess, that is what it is.  A giant mess.  If there is one thing you are always able to use for an excuse is a tropical storm.  Honestly, it is okay to not drive through torrential rain storm with gusts of wind blowing people into your lane.

Hostel in the Forest

After an incredibly crazy drive through the storm and almost getting stuck in the driveway, as soon as I set foot into the actual hostel area, I realized I needed to stay another day.  My entire body seemed to let go of all the stress from the last few days.  It was amazing how liberating the place was.  I really needed to let go of the expectations from my trip and the expectations I place on myself.  In a yoga class at Asheville Yoga Center, the teacher said to let go of all the definitions of who you are and who you are supposed to be.  In that class you are supposed to be who ever you are in that moment.  That is what I am working on for this trip.  At the forest that was the closest I had been to that person yet.  It was just what I needed to start my trip.

While at the hostel I was going to do yoga when some people asked me if I could lead a class.  I said no, I am not a teacher.  Later more people asked so I did lead a small class.  I am not good enough or not a teacher or do not have something to offer are all things I have used in the past when people have asked me if I would like to teach or lead a class or just do yoga together.  But while I was there I was able to do it and it was amazing.  The second night I was there I also taught a class but this one was a candle light class in the glass room which is an isolated, octagonal glass room overlooking a pond.

St. Simons

The next day I spent part of the day at the Hostel and the massage therapist and Reiki master Donna was from St. Simons and wanted to show me around town so it was another detour.  We had the most amazing sea food lunch at Gnats Landing (I think that was the name) and spent the day touring the island and hitting the beach.

Savannah

That night I left to Savannah and stayed at a cheap motel, Inn at Mulberry Grove, close to I-95.  It was very nice and clean compared to many hotels I have stayed at and the furnishings were upscale and it included free breakfast.  I got it for 40 dollars bid on Priceline, while in their parking lot, with Name Your Own Price.  Only I could not sleep, so I did not get to Savannah until almost noon.  And it was hot, HOT, HOT!

So hot that I only stayed for four or five hours before I could not handle it any more. I started from there towards Black Mountain a day early and skipped a second night in Savannah or Charleston.

Black Mountain

Somehow my GPS took me to the scenic route through Route 9.  In the dark up and down a windy mountain road.  Another detour.  It was however gorgeous. I arrived later than I thought I would and ended up chilling out with my friends I had not seen for a while and my car STILL smelled like burning oil.  Turns out I have leaks.  Like four or five oil leaks.  Yes that many.  So now what?  Another detour.  I have been in the Asheville area for a week now.  But in that time I have played play-dough with an adorable three-year old, saw gorgeous waterfalls, did yoga, went to a dance collective dance wave, and in general had a great time.

What is Next?

I am going to have to take a much more direct route home and I need to figure that out.  But I have had a great time and saw some great things.  I am heading to a drum circle tonight.  Everything is just a reminder to let go.  Let go of where I am supposed to go when I am supposed to get there and who I am while traveling.  If I can let go, I can let so much more into my life.

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July from Black Mountain, North Carolina.  I hope all of my US friends had a wonderful holiday!

Reviews and posts soon I promise!  Yoga, dance collectives, drum circles, the Hostel in the Forest, St. Simons, Savannah, waterfalls, Dupont State Forest, so many flowers, and Fourth festivities in Black Mountain.

Pictures are Up!

I am currently in Black Mountain, North Carolina!  And I did not even get a speeding ticket from a trooper in Georgia.  There are first times for everything.  I did get asked if I was a “working woman” in Savannah and had several offers to join me by creepy old men with no teeth in South Carolina.

For a teaser, the uploaded pictures from my Michigan Road Trip thus far.  I will be updating my map soon!

Jacksonville, Florida

The Hostel in the Forest in Georgia  (I seem to have messed these photos up when I re-sized them.  I forgot to set the it to keep the aspect ratio.  Oops.  I will re-upload them soon.)

St. Simons, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Updated! 

Here are the correct sized pictures for the Forest Hostel!

Saying Good-Bye Part II

“This love is always right here with you, just breathe it in”

Today I moved on.  I moved on and I did not even realize I had.  I blame that on driving though a tropical storm.  I had been going through all the motions of telling people good-bye.  Last dinners, last yoga classes, last Bones marathon, last massage…  And I finally realized all of those butterflies that I did not think I was feeling, had built up in my body because I did not see them.  I have been scanning myself to see where my anxiety was related to my upcoming trip.  It is a huge adventure with a lot of risk.  I kept going over everything I knew that will make the trip amazing and safe as a preventative measure.  But today I realized, as I was approaching the Florida/ Georgia  border, that I was nervous about everything I was leaving behind.   Worrying that no one cared, that I would never be able to replace the people in my life, that I was imposing on people, and that I was ending of the sweetest part of life I have experienced ever.   When would I come back?  Would I come back?

I could have prolonged my departure because of the storm.   I had a nice family letting me stay with them in a safe place.  But, I felt that I had to move on and for me the border was some symbolic line I was crossing on my trip.  I had not felt those excited butterflies about my trip because I was saying good-bye, not starting out on my adventure.  I was afraid I would never start.  I knew I would not make it to Savannah with my camera today because of the rain, but I could at least get over the Florida border.

As it turns out though, the one good reason to delay a trip that is always okay is tropical weather.  It was a white knuckle, floating across the road, white wash spray kind of drive.  At one point I was passed on both sides by cars and the spray from those cars made it seem like my entire car was underwater.  When the rain let up for a small amount of time, I looked for a mile marker to see how far I had gone.  I was already 14 miles over the border and I had not even noticed.  I was not worrying about having to say good-bye or to force myself to let go of something, I was moving on.

My detour took me to the most amazing hostel that is in tree houses with community buildings, gardens, kitchen, composting bathrooms, outdoor showers, a glass room for yoga and massage, a lake, a pool, and so much lush green forest you are surrounded by frogs and crickets.   Yet, from the time I set foot in this amazing place, I could feel those people I had been saying good-bye to with me on the journey.  I had spent too much energy trying to find closure on a part of my life in places I did not want to close the doors.  I never realized that, not only do I not need to close those doors, I could never close them if I tried.  For the first time, I am not trying to end part of my life.  I am simply moving on to a different place in the world; moving on to a different place in myself.

(Written June 26, 2012 in my little hut in the forest)