Now that my heart beat has returned to normal, let me tell you the story behind the plane ticket.
About two weeks ago, I decided enough was enough. I was absolutely 100% sick of running my mouth about travel, making plans I half knew I wouldn’t be able to keep even as I made them, and standing still in the rest of my life as I continued to use “well, I plan on traveling so…” as an excuse to avoid adding any serious commitments to my life.
It was time to do something, anything. Go somewhere.
I pulled out my shiny new Hogwarts journal, grabbed a pen, and sat down to make some lists. I started a page for each of my options – teaching in Ghana, volunteering in Guatemala, au pair in Spain, AmeriCorp 2015 – and started by listing the who/when/where/what and broke down the costs (flight, visas, vaccinations, living expenses). But, let’s be real – all of those numbers just don’t do it for me.
So I started making a pro’s and con’s list, guided mostly by my heart – what did I truly WANT to do?
Financially speaking, AmeriCorp and Guatemala were my two best options. My heart has been calling me to Guatemala for years now but there was still something off with my plan to go for 3 months…
I realized that if I wanted to do this, if I was going to travel, then I was going to TRAVEL.
Without a deadline.
With Guatemala shouting my name and a love for Latin American culture, the decision to head straight to Central America was simple. I started looking at plane tickets and quickly realized that Mexico and Costa Rica, though not the cheapest countries to travel through, were the cheapest to fly into. (Yes, I know Mexico is not technically Central America.)
My next step, then, was to begin researching volunteer opportunities. I do not want to travel to sight-see and say “oh, I was there!” but rather to immerse myself in new cultures and I can think of no better way to do so than to volunteer. I intend to travel slowly and spend an extended amount of time (3 months minimum) at each volunteer placement because I believe that’s the most ethical way to volunteer (and it keeps costs down).
Using Grassroots Volunteering, I quickly stumbled upon a few organizations I felt fit in with my goals and intentions. The first was in Nicaragua and after doing some research to confirm it was a legitimate, worthwhile organization, my plans began to fall into place – I could fly in San Jose, spend a few days in Costa Rica, and take the bus over to Granada to spend a few months volunteering before making my way up to Mexico, stopping in several other countries (including Guatemala!) to volunteer along the way.
The plan was basic but it was enough of a plan (and, it seems, the right plan) for me to take action.
Two days later, I ran home from work, jumped on the computer, and booked a plane ticket.
Pittsburgh to San Jose, January 7.
Though I didn’t realize it then, January 7 is also the one year anniversary of my move to Pittsburgh. It looks like everything is finally coming full circle.