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

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)