Sadly, this will probably be my last blog entry for a little while, and my last about South America for a much longer while. As of yesterday, I had been back in the United States for exactly 2 weeks, which meant 14 full days without a single Spanish conversation, Buenos Aires sunrise, or jam-packed colectivo ride. It’s amazing how quickly 4 months of your life can fade into the past, individual moments blending together into a cohesive “WOW” experience. The more time that passes, the more difficult it becomes to pick out single memories. Only two short weeks into the future, thinking back to my time in Argentina is a lot like looking at a coiled rainbow slinky: a beautiful whole made up of a seemingly endless string of colorful fun.
I know as time continues to pass, it will become more and more difficult to mentally uncoil my Argentine slinky and remember each and every amazing adventure. That is part of the reason I am so glad to have this blog, my journal, and my pictures to return to. There are, however, a few key lessons that I plan to carry with me for the rest of my life, a little remembrance of South America in daily life. Call them the “5 Things I Learned in South America:”
1) Yes I Can
….Plan a trip to Chile, survive a 18 hour bus ride, find my way through a world-class city, or buy fruit in Spanish. I proved to myself that I can do all of this, and so much more, all it takes is a little effort and a lot of faith. I now know I have the tools to pick something and say “yes, I will do that.”
2) Yo Hablo Español
….Yes, I do speak Spanish now. You may not see me swapping slang in the street, but I’d like to think I can say just about whatever I need to. At the very least I can get directions to the nearest bar, order a beer, and ask the person next to me how his day was. What more do you really need?
3) We’re Not So Different
….Bring in language, culture, income, or food preferences, but when it comes down to it, everybody wants pretty much the same thing: peace, love, and a good time, and most people are willing to help each other along the way to achieving these goals. I saw it in myself, my fellow students, and my South American hosts. Add the fact that we’re all human, and you realize you’re never really that much of a “foreigner.”
4) I Need Nature
….Don’t get me wrong, I loved the city, but for me mountains are the true “skyscrapers,” and being surrounded by trees will always beat being surrounded by people. And if you can combine the two, well then hey, even better.
5) The World is a Classroom
….And the best part is, it gives you very little homework. Stepping away from the typical college life for a while made me realize how beneficial it can be to have your own time to explore. I know classrooms and teachers are good for direction, but homework can be far overdone. Somehow, spending hours in front of a computer screen just doesn’t compare to being sprayed by the mists of Iguazú Falls, or seeking out multi-national dinner conversation in hostels across Argentina.
These are only a few of the lessons that have made themselves obvious since returning from Buenos Aires, and it is safe to say they won’t be the only ones. For all I know, it could take years to decide exactly how my time abroad affected the rest of my life. I am, however, sure of one thing: it was a “life-changing” experience, in all of its stereotypical and cliche glory. The places I saw, people that I met, and things that I accomplished have left a permanent mark on the Morgan Brown Biography. Hell, they probably deserve their own chapter. And while it is sad to mark the end of that section, I’m anxious to see where the next one begins, and how I carry my newfound skills and lessons with me.
I would like to acknowledge all of the individuals who made my trip what it was, from Carmen and Jimena, our API directors, to the Mendoza hiking guides that I still tell stories about. I also need to extend my appreciation to all of those faithful readers who accompanied me (in spirit) on some of my most spectacular adventures in such a spectacular country. Without you, there really would have been no reason to write, and I hope you got as much enjoyment out of reading about my travels as I did recounting them.
The good news is that I’ll stop gumming up your email with notifications about “A New Blog Entry!.” Without the Southern Hemisphere to inspire me, I’m going to have to find some new material to pollute your inbox with. It may take a little while to start it up again, but have no fear, at some point down the road I’ll make a resurgence in my blogging career. As to what I will actually write about: your guess is as good as mine.
Hasta la proxima vez, mis amigos