Looking back on the past year, from graduation to traveling across the world, to my life in Boulder, to Cape Cod and to my move to DC, I feel a sense of accomplishment and a sadness for what I call the "Endless Summer", is truly ending. The freedom I have experienced in the past year has opened my eyes to new possibilities for my future, the people I have met have inspired and changed me and the dreams I have fulfilled leave me delighted. After such a year it is difficult to return to the society I have been living on the fringes of, or outside of for that matter. Broke, but happy, I experienced life with enhanced senses, enlightening myself and experiencing everything. Now I have a lease, possessions, am enrolled in law school and my Benjamin is in Ithaca seven hours away starting his own new reality. Tomorrow I begin law school, quite possibly the most intellectually challenging and intimidating adventure yet. I am pursuing a JD/MA in International Service and I am accompanied by some of the brightest people around. I look forward to the challenge but I would be lying if I said I wasn't terrified, too. So wish me luck, keep the Legally Blond jokes to a minimum, and here it goes!
By the time we reached Bogota, our trip was winding down and the reality of life after South America was setting in. The beaches of the Caribbean left me feeling warm and glowing and it was with a reluctant sigh that I boarded the 23 hour non semi-cama bus to Bogota. Passing through lush green rolling hills, tiny villages selling fried everything and arriving in cold, rainy Bogota left me feeling a bit alienated. Curled up in an unfamiliar place with memories of Australian friends, white sand beaches and the last camping of our trip, the first night was a little rough. The next day I warmed my bones with some dark coffee and wandered the streets, impressed with the bohemian murals and political messages. The overwhelming vibrancy of the art made me see Bogota with fresh eyes despite the constant drizzle. The art scene, evolving from a tattered and complex political history evoked memories of Berlin. Both places are still evolving, moving forward from the unrest to a brighter, smarter and more beautiful future. Broke, caffeinated, and in love in Bogota. Not a bad way to finish an epic journey through South America.
Northern Colombia was simply magical. The magenta bougainvillea tumbling down burnt orange stained Spanish Colonial buildings on cobbled streets of old Cartegena gave way to day dreams of Gabriel Garcia Marquez as a young student following the revolts of Bogota's past. At night the city came alive with rum soaked salsa dancing till the early hours of the morning. The generations of Colombians sitting and talking in poetic Spanish rhythms made me realize I was experiencing something unique, historical even. After years of civil and political unrest, Colombia is safe enough for gringo backpackers to dance salsa and lay beachside, wander into the Amazon (But not too far in..), and converse with locals about what it means to be a Colombian in 2010. The sky seemed bluer, the ocean clearer, the sand whiter and the people more beautiful in Colombia. Our adventures to an island where we slept in our tent on the beach eating fried fish and plantains, slicing mangos with a pocket knife and swimming amongst the starfish will keep me daydreaming for months, even years to come.
A hotbed of unruliness, misguided passions, disobedience, and overall debauchery, one might call Iquitos the Vegas of the Amazon. Unreachable by road, this Amazonian city in the depths of Peru was a whirlwind of uncharted territory, absurd interactions and rogue lifestyles. The Belen market with its Amazonian pharmacy, black market animal sellers, strange fruits, piranhas, and endless bananas was a veritable orgy for the senses. The streets are filled with mototaxis, swindlers, sellers of impossible dreams and wayward French ex-pats and characters of all types. Fish scales float down the street of the market, while giant cargo boats swing travelers in hammocks to Brazil and Colombia. The thick air of the Amazon lingers into the night as friends from the Amazon beckon you to drink cane juice. Indigenous women spread tapestries with Ayahuasca visions on the banks of the Amazon River littered with Coca Cola bottles. A strangely addicting place full of temptation.
Working on a farm in the Amazon was one of the most outrageous and gratifying aspects of my trip. While the endless mosquito bites, banana themed diet and bathing in a river of neon spiders left me a bit out of my element, the stars above my head at night, the life force of the plants and animals and the synergy of the environment left me craving more.