I have struggled with anxiety, depression, and adhd for most of my life. These are things I don't quite talk a lot about because I am always worried of how people will respond and I don't like to use them as excuse in fear of people say I use them as a crutch. Over the years I have somewhat learned how to control them and although I have pretty good controls of them they still sometimes can be stronger then me. These are not things I can unpack or forget at the airport they fallow me everywhere I go. They are the traveling companions in life I never asked for but that does not mean we don't have fun. Some days are hard and its exhausting to be around people and do any normal thing. Sometimes I kick my self for staying in bed because getting out is hard or when don't go to an event because I get to nerves. Somedays are amazing and I faces my fears head on. Somedays I get to make memories with amazing people and see new incredible things. Its like the tied. When its out you can walk out more and there are shells and hidden treasures. When its in it eats up the shore, and sandcastles, and messages in the sand. Both are apart of how the ocean works and you can't get rid of the tides or the beach would not fully be the beach that we know. These things are a part of me just as the tides are to the ocean. It can suck a lot sometimes but it can also be amazing. Life has ups and downs and for some people its crazy ups and crazy downs and sometimes it just flatteneds out, but you just have to pack your bags grab you travel companions and go out to the world. Traveling and living abroad with these things is not by any means easy but I have come to understand them and myself differently and am getting closer to coming to peace with myself and my mind.
"For those who have experienced the joy of being alone with nature there is really little need for me to say much more; for those who have not, no words of mine can ever describe the powerful, almost mystical knowledge of beauty and eternity that come, suddenly, and all unexpected."
"For those of us (those that have the desire to explore the world unknown) that grew up going out into the wilds of the world...we got into our souls a sense of beauty."
“You have a whole life in the outdoors, you realize you have a sense of responsibility to protect these wild places.”
“I climbed a path and from the top looked up-stream towards Chile. I could see the river, glinting and sliding through the bone-white cliffs with strips of emerald cultivation either side. Away from the cliffs was the desert. There was no sound but the wind, whirring through thorns and whistling through dead grass, and no other sign of life but a hawk, and a black beetle easing over white stones.”
Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia
"Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all, but we just went for it"
One of the things I tell myself when I get to the top of a mountain is "I put myself here". I hiked up and down the trial. Scrabbled up rocks and over tree limbs. My legs hurt and my lungs burned. I felt the hot sun on my skin. I put my self here out of my own straight and will. When I hike back down I tell myself "you put yourself up here, you can take yourself down" and I do just that. I hike back down and up the trail my pack feeling a little easier to cary. I walk fast and run up hills because my legs can take it. My knees hurt from supporting me and my pack. I sweat from the sun and my movement. Im tired but feeling good and I make it to the end of the trial. Feeling hot and worn out but I did it, I took myself down. All of this hiking is making me realize how strong I am and that I can do more then I think and push myself to new lengths. I feel whole on the trail and in nature.
You know I have always loved community and feeling connected to people. I like over using the word family and calling the many community I am apart of as families. I have never believed family only means someone you are related to by blood, but more someone who loves you through the good and bad and who are just always there for you. Over my time here I feel like I have been accepted into so many families.
At the church I feel so looked after by all of them. We are a congregation but also a family that loves to talk a lot and joke around. I have been spending a lot of time with Laura's family. We have been hiking and I have been loving it. At times her family feels like mine her sons feel like bothers and we sometimes act like siblings. I spent new years with them and it was clam and comforting and we ate pancakes and played cards. I also have come to love our coffee hour after church where I try to keep up with the convention and help set the table. These are the things I will remember most and will hold close to my heart.
Cre-arte has become a place of true love and joy for me. I feel apart of the community there. From talking and laughing with students and co-workers to dancing the night away with everyone. Its hard to explain because I just feel like I fit as well as a foreigner can into the context of the world that cre-arte has crated. We just had a camp where it was the first time seeing a lot of people from cre-arte since spring. I was over filled with joy to be back with this amazing group of people who I was starting to miss quite a bit. Everyone at cre-arte is so accepting and warm hearted and I have come to love everyone there with all of me that its hard to image having to leave this place and these people.
At times I forget I have to go home that this is not a place I have been living in for years. Life has become normal and I feel at home here. I love the people I have been gifted with and I am so thankful for the love and time they share with me. I am sorry for this does not fully explain how much these people feel like family to me but I do not think I will ever have the right words to express how much they all fill me with love and joy.
Here are some photos of my family and if you hover over them you can read captions talk about them.
Cairns- is a human-made pile (or stack) of stones. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic. Cairns are often erected as landmarks, a use they have had since ancient times. However, since prehistory, they have also been built and used as burial monuments; for defense and hunting; for ceremonial purposes, sometimes relating to astronomy; to locate buried items, such as caches of food or objects; and to mark trails, among other purposes.
Hiking is a big thing to do here in Bariloche and Patagonia in general so I have been getting into hiking quite a bit. Me and my friend Christina decided we wanted to do a two day hike (its really more of a three day hike but we did not know that). The path was from the trial head to Laguna Negra where we spent the night and then the next day we hiked to Lopez and then down to the road over all we walked about 18 miles or 30km over the two days. I had hiked the Laguna Negra trail before and knew how to get to the Refugio but from there to Lopez we had no clue what the trail looked like. It was quite a bit harder and longer then we thought but man are the views worth it. To help us along our path there are red dots spray painted on some rocks but along with those there are many Cairns standing tall ready to show you the way. They came to be something I was keeping an eye out for because at times its a little hard to know where to go. They always met us at the top of a mountain or showed up after not seeing anything for a bit. I came to feel comfort in their sight. They where guiding us on a path that at times was a bit dangerous and confusing but also exciting and beautiful. After our long hike (not gonna lie I cried for like an hour on the way down because I was in a lot of pain) we caught a bus and made our way home. The days following the hike I started thinking about the Cairns more and how seeing them made me feel. How just like on the hike I was being guided on my own path by god. I might not always recognize the "Cairns" in my life but when I look back I can see all the people and things that got me to this part of the path I walk. Just like the trails I hiked my path is full of uncertainty on where to go, mountains to climb, steep parts to stubble down, moments of pain and anger, times when im faced with something so beautiful my breath gets taken away, and feeling I can do anything while standing on top of a mountain. I am so thankful for the Cairns that help me find my path on this tail that is my yagm year and my life.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.-Isaiah 30:21
“You learn that how you got there was what’s important. Not what you accomplished.”-Yvon Chouinard
Fun Fact - The Hike from Laguna Negra to Lopze is super hard and most people go from Lopze to Laguna Negra because its easier to hike down Lopze then up it. We climbed up it and was indeed hard.
Here are some photos from the hike and if you hover over them you can read captions talk about them.
When you are living and traveling abroad you meet so many people that its almost hard to keep track of where and when you met them. Everyone all on there own journeys but you for a min stand at the same cross roads and get to know each other.
I have been hanging out at a hostel here in Bariloche that my lovely friend Gabi works at. There I got to meet Christina who was the chef at the hostel and Bruno who was working there. The three of them become my family here and the hostel became a home. We would spend our time dancing in the kitchen, cooking food, and listening to music in the streets on the weekends. At the dinner table we would sit and share meals with people from around the world and talk about everything under the moon. I got to meet and get to know people from so many places like a father/son duo from the USA who had traveled to Argentina to meet family they have never gotten to meet before. I met some fun loving Argentinas who had a dance party in the street. I got to talk with a young Australian girl about the struggle of language barriers and jammed out to Walking on Sunshine with an Australian man. I also met a lovely women named Amy who is from England and is one of the sweetest and funniest people I have met and a true ray of sunshine. There I also met Paula who works at the hostel and is someone I enjoy talking to quite a bit. As we sat together we asked and answered questions like “Where are you from?”, “How long have you been traveling?”, and “Where are you going?”. Those questions led to stories being told and friendships being made. I don't think we ever realize how quickly and easily we can bond as people. Making almost a nomadic network of people all going and living in different places but still being connect by the trails they traveled and the stories they shared. All of these meetings and so many more where just chances encounters but everyone of them was different and fulfilling. I would have never though I would get to meet so many amazing, interesting, and different people during my time here in Bariloche but I am so thankful for all of them and their stories.
I dedicate this is Gabi, Christina, Bruno, and Amy who will forever be my Bariloche family.
I can pretty much feel at home anywhere. Its something I am good at and I take pride in that but it never hurts to make a space your own. If you have even seen one of my living spaces you know that I like to fill it with art and random things I find. You know I never leave much wall space and everything is pretty colorful. Well my home here is no different. I have tried to make it my own so it really feels like home. its the small things like personalizing your space that make living abroad just a bit easier. Welcom to my home friends.
Below are photos and if you hover over them you can read captions talk about them.
Not being the states for the election and its out come was very wired. I spent election night in a group hangout with my friends. We talked about what was going on, made jokes, laughed, and sat in aw at what was happening. I learn who was president by one of them and then herd Trumps acceptance speech via my friend who was watching it. As he relied the speech to me and to the rest of us in the video chat we all just could not believe what had just happen. The few days after the election where a little hard because I could not fully express my feeling and worries to anyone. Everyone was very supportive but at time not in the way I needed. I just really wanted to be home with my friends and I felt helpless and disconnect from the states. About a week after the election my friend Melina had a lovely idea. She wanted to make a poetry book full of pomes about hope because she was tired of the negativity and wanted to share a little light of hope to people. She put out a open call for people to write pomes for the book. So I did and here it is.
I have gotten into the habit of referring to people as lights.
There are many types of lights
as many as there are people.
Lights that in darkness continue to shine,
Lights that bring warmth to the cold,
Lights that walk with you down the hard path,
Lights that bring passion and love,
Lights that don't know they are lights.
Lights that stay bright even when the wind blows,
and Lights that come together to make a fire
In times when the darkness feels
like it runs to the ends of the earth
It’s lights that bring hope
where it seemed like none could be found
One light in the night may shine bright, stand strong,
but when many gather,
set each other ablaze,
and Solidarity to one another
Some Lights will shine brighter so others don't have to put their flame at risk
Some Lights will shine for lights that can’t or have been burnt out
Some Lights will refuse to go out without a fight
but all Lights will stand together and flicker as one
All Lights will be the love and oxygen the other needs
I’ve gotten into the habit of referring to people as Lights
because when someone is good and full of love
you can see the fire in them shining bright,
You, my love, are a Light.
I love animals a lot (im not kidding I really really like animals) and I have always found comfort in their presences. Here in Bariloche I have become friends with quiet a few dogs and cats that have stolen my heart. At the lake a few dogs like to catch rocks people throw into the water. I have started calling these dogs the Dog Lake Crew and I enjoy spending nice days with them at the lake. At Cre-arte I have befriend a cat that lives there and I always look to see if its hanging out in the garden so we can snuggle and sun bask together. These dogs and cats have become a big part of my experience living here and I have come to love them very much.
Below are photos and if you hover over them you can read captions talk about them.
I have never really had to worried about not being understood or not being able to communicate with people because I have always have the ability to talk and I have always pretty much been around people who speck my own language. Being here has made me rethink how we communicate with people and how important being understood really is. When you can only speck and understand things on a pretty basic level you turn to other forms of getting ideas or in my case words across. I find myself watching people more then talking trying to understand things through hand motions and body language and for the most part I can get a somewhat broken understanding of what people are saying and whats going on. I also find my self acting things out a lot because it just seams to work when I dont have to words. It works but its not ideal. I really wish I was better at spanish because I just want to talk with people and I mean really talk. I work with and know some really cool and amazing people here who I just want to know better but its hard when you just dont have the words and understanding to do so. It is also hard not being able to expresses myself fully and standing quietly because its not that I dont what to say anything but that I physically cant say anything. I sometimes feel trapped inside my self and thats really hard for because I have a need to connect to people. Some of the students at Cre-Arte are def and so communicate with sign-language and most students at the center also know it. I have never worked with people who are are def but it is also making me rethink how we communicate. I have realized that this is probably somewhat similar to how it must feel to have a hearing or speech impairment. Most people dont know sign language so if thats your only way of talking to a person you cant fully communicate to a lot of people and that has to be so frustrating. I imagine also if you have a stutter it must be frustrating at times to make your way through a sentences. That feeling of not being fully understood or not being able to expresses yourself is something they have to deal with quite often. It has made me really think about how the ability to just talk with someone is truly a gift and we do not think about it enough. Also go out and learn some sign language its really cool and the basics are pretty simple.
Now as some of you know im pretty fucking extroverted. I mean if you look up the word in the dictionary my face is under the word. I love people thats one of the reasons im here is to meet and be with people. So far its been really good I love all the students and people I work with at cre-arte and everyone at the church is lovely but this past weekend I got a big ol punch in the face from my friend loneliness. I dont do loneliness well I need people not all the time but I really like being around and close with people. On Saturday I wanted to go to a punk show that was at a bar just down the street from where I live. Music is really important to me and I like going to shows so I thought it would be a lot of fun to see the Argentine punk scene. Well the poster said the show started at 9 so I got to the bar right at 9 and was the only one there (im punktual). As people slowly came in and as I watched the cool bar tenders go about getting the bar ready for the night all I wanted to do was talk to them. I have seen so many cool people that I would love to get to know but my fear of not being able to talk to them makes me hold back. By the time I left the bar around 11 to try and find the place my co workers birthday party was at (which I was now late because I thought 21 hours was 10 not 9) the band had not started and they did not look like they plan on doing it anytime soon. Fun fact: no matter where you are in the world a punk show will not start on time. ever. After the bar I attempted to find the place I was told the birthday party of my co-worker was at. I only know a few streets well but Bariloche is pretty easy to get around in so I was not very worried. The only problem was I had no clue what the place looked like and I only kind of understood the address. After a long walk was with a plate of cookies and a thing of soda I decided to go home. On my walk back I was so mad at myself for not being able to understand people and for not getting times right. All I wanted was to be close to people and to really get to know them and I could not do that and it made me so frustrated. I sent out a few snapchats (yes snapchats) of me talking about how I was feel because it was a good way for me to vent out my feelings. I did not expect anyone to care I just need to vent but gee was I wrong. Many of my friends reached out to me and gave words of encouragement or sympathy. As someone who has struggled with self-hate from pretty much my whole life the idea of people loving/caring about me is hard, but I think now after being proven time in time agin that I am loved I finally truly believe it. I have been given nothing but love from my community back home, my community of fellow volunteers, and my community here. They have stood by me and helped me as much as they can and I am so thankful for the people that I have been gifted with in my life.
Yes communicating is hard but ive learned you dont need words to make friends just a willingness to be with them and to mess up and to laugh. Yeah sometimes I get frustrated I cant understand things or be understood but its opening me up to a new world of how to be with people and how to communicate. There are no hard days just hard moments because those moments pass and then I am greeted with a hug or smile or words of love and those things wash the hard times away so fast that they feel like they dont even matter. I had a hard weekend but this week has been full of so many amazing, fun, and loving moments that the weekend feels like it was just passing emotions.
I believe a city without street art and graffiti is missing a bit of a heart beat. Street art is one of my favorite forms of art and expression. It allows people to write and shear their thoughts on the skin of the city. It opens the door for people to use their voices when they might not have one other wise. Street art is the tattoos of the city and just like real ones some have meanings and stories, others just look cool, and some are dumb, but I love it all. Yes its illegal and can sometimes be bad but it also is a voice of a city and can make the streets more colorful and bright. Here in Bariloche there is a lot of street art and graffiti that lines the walls and some of it is really amazing. It makes this city just a bit more beautiful to me.
So I celebrated mi cumpleaños this last sunday (the 18th) and it was very much a good time. Im not very big on my own birthday and so I was kind of worried it was going to become a big thing but it ended up being so chill and fun. At the church we had an asado which is pretty much a BBQ. The church got me a jacket and Laura made me a cake. I had so much fun with everyone and I love my jacket. I also had dinner with Jorge, Diego, and Ricardo which was very fun and full of laughs and good talk. Ricardo got me some chocolates and they tasted so good. Over all I would say it was a very good birthday with my lovely community.
Below are photos and if you hover over them you can read captions talk about them.
My spanish is shit. As some of you know language is not my thing at all and I have never even been good at english so spanish has proven to be a trip. I have been working on it and am getting better but I still sound like im a 2 year old when I try to talk to anyone. So because of this for the first two weeks most of the time I would say Si when people talked to me because normally its all I can really say. I have also taken on saying yes to most things because I never fully know what people are saying to me any way so I just say yes and hope it fits. It has proven to be quite a fun time (I am waiting for the time I agree to something and have no clue what im agreeing to and end up at a clown party with a bunch of cats or something). If you want to live a fun week I suggest you try to say yes to most things that come your way because it will be a bit of a interesting trip for ya (or just watch the movie Yes Man its the same experiences). So you can imagine my first 3 weeks in Bariloche have been pretty good.
I am working at Cre-Arte for most of the week and loving everyday of it. Cre-Arte is a cultural center for differently abled adults. The offer many class like dance, painting, cooking, music, computer skills, ceramics, gardening, carpentry, and a few others. I really enjoy my time here because everyone is so loving and welcomed me with open arms. On my first day at lunch I had a classic "where do I sit" moment as I stood in front of a room of people I dont know who speck a language I barely know. As I was standing there in full out middle school nervousness a student named Gabe Called me over to sit at his table (I have never been more relived in my life). I had lunch with Gabe who specks really good english his companion who is a really cool guy and another student named Patchy and the three of them made me feel right at home at Cre-Arte. They have become some of my good friends at the center and I am so thankful for them and their open friendly hearts. Also all the other students are just as friendly and loving as Gabe and Patchy and I enjoy getting to know all of them. The teachers at Cre-Arte are some of the sweets and coolest people I have had the chances to meet. They have all looked out for me and helped me at the center. The kitchen staff is the best and I spend most of my day with them helping with meals and washing dishes. They have taken me under their wing and they are just too much fun to be around. This place and all its wonderfulness has become my favorite part of my day even when it sometimes is hard and tiring.
I also go to church every sunday and I am so blessed for everyone there. They have taken me in with open arms. I love our snack times after services on sundays even if I only understand a little bit of what anyone is saying. Its a time when I feel like I am apart of the congregation. I also enjoy my time with the women's group at the church even if all I do is ball up yarn because thats all I can really do. They are all amazing women who are just too cool and nice. On mondays I go to a sewing group with some women from the church. They fix cloths, sale cloths at a low price, and make blankets in the marginalized part of Bariloche. I have learned how to kind of use a sewing machine but im still pretty bad at it and am working on making a pillow now. These women are a big inspiration and I really enjoy getting to spend time with them. They have all really been making me feel love and thats all I could ever want.
Also the man who owns my apartment is really cool his name is Jorge and he has been very welcoming as well. My fist saturday here he took me on a drive around the mountains and it was so beautiful. I have also enjoyed eating with him and my neighbor alot because it is always a fun time and they are really good cooks. Plus he let me make my pineapple and pickle pizza and that maybe one of the nicest things anyone has ever done.
I was very nervous about coming here and not knowing what to do and not being able to communicate with any one. I am happy to say that my experience has been so amazing and I have been welcomed with open loving arms by some truly amazing people who have been patient with me. I am still having trouble communicating but no worries because im getting by and my spanish is getting better everyday. Shout out to my awesome and sweet spanish teach Maggi who has been so amazing and really helping me a lot. She is the best!
Below are photos from the past weeks and if you hover over them you can read captions talk about them.
This is my emotional roller coaster of flying to bariloche.
Levitating, flying, falling, floating, in limbo, and up in the air
Thats what it feels like when you move to another country for a year and have no clue what you are doing. I found myself asking my self "why am I here?", "what am I doing", "F*#k I dont speck Castilian", and "ahhhhhhahahahhhh". You find you self siting in the in-between of what was, what is, and what will be. Its feels alot like the moment right after you jump when you dont know where the ground is but feel like you can fly. It is an unsettling but exhilarating feeling to be here in Argentina and I cant believe im doing this. Im really doing this. I wish I could explain how it feels better but I just dont quite have the words for it.
For the past 10 days I was in Buenos Aires for orientation which is Argentinas capitol city and also its biggest. We spent most of are day going over rules and information, seeing the city, and learning Castilian (argentina spanish). One thing we learned a lot about was the "Dirty War" (it was not a war but a government/military occupation over the argentine people) it is also called the Civil-Military Dictatorship. A quick summery of it is from 1974-1983 Argentina was under a dictatorship that was against any left-wing group/person/idea and so to get rid of them they had military and security forces tasked with kidnapping/kill anyone who was suspected to be left-wing. They would take these people to clandestine detention centers where they would be held/tortured/killed. The people who where kidnapped are called the "disappeared" and the number of disappeared wavers from who you ask but it is somewhere in-between 6,000 to 22,000. The reason the number has such a big margin is because a lot of information/documents that where made during this time earthier does not exist, has little info, was destroyed. The Usa had a very big hand in it as well because we gave "our blessing" to get rid of any communist ideas. We also taught alot of the task forces the skills they used against people at the School of the Americas in Panama. This was a very hard time in Argentina and its effects are still very present today and I highly suggest you look into it more because it is very important to many people and families who lost love ones because of the "dirty wars".
On a lighter note I very much loved the city of Buenos Aires. On our fist night there the air was full of the sounds of string instruments playing, dogs barking, people talking, cars diving by, the city was alive. Buenos Aires also has some pretty cool street art and I really wish I could have seen more of it. Its a city like any other but with its own style and feel. Some things that are very normal in Argentina are
Beso - it means kiss and thats how you greet and say good bye to most people
You eat crazy late like maybe in between 9-11 and once we had pizzas at midnight. Also lunch is the biggest meal of the day and so you dont eat as much at dinner and breakfast.
You speck Castilian Spanish
Asado - Its a way to cook meat and also the social event of having or attending a barbecue. They are normally a celebration of some sort and a gathering of people.
Milk comes in bags
Dulce de leche is a gift to the world
I very much enjoyed my time in Buenos Aires living with the other volunteers who will also be serving in Argentina and Uruguay this year. We have become a family in these past few weeks and have shared many highs and lows and are the only people who understand what is happening to each in the year. It was so hard leaving my new family of amazing/wired people I now love with my whole heart, but now its onto Bariloche.
Below are photos from the past week and if you hover over them you can read captions talk about them.
With about two days away from flying out to Argentina everything is becoming more and more real. Im about to hop on a plain and move to another country where I dont speck the language well and really only know the basics of what im doing. So yes I am flipping out but I am also so excited. This past week we have been at the University of Chicago for our YAGM (Young Adults in Globule Mission) state side orientation. I have learned a lot this week about accompaniment, serving in a different country, race relation, being an ally, and so many other things. Being here with everyone have been amazing and this group of people who will be serving with me around the world are all going to do amazing things this year and I cant wait to hear everyone stories. I have also really enjoyed getting to know all the people in my country group and we have had some fun bonding times together. Like drinking mate together in the morning, going and seeing an Uruguayan film noir, trying to watch a movie and then ending up talking about life, and getting lost on a hunt to fine an Argentine restaurant that the alumni of our program have been waiting at for almost tow hours. They have quickly become my family and I am so happy to be serving along side them in Argentina and Uruguay.
I will be living in San Carlo de Bariloche but most people just call it Bariloche. Bariloche is located in the province of Río Negro, Argentina, situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake. So its in Patagonia (I cant believe it). I am still shocked that I get to live there because its breathtakingly beautiful. Bariloche comes from Mapudungun word Vuriloche meaning "people from behind the mountain".
I will be work at an art school for differently abled adults called Cre-arte and at a church called Congregación Cruz del Sur. I am over the moon happy for my site placement but am nervous I wont do well working at the art school and that my spanish skills will be lacking. Me and the rest of my group are getting hype about hoping on the plain and getting to Buenos Aires that the days are flying by. Its the start of an amazing adventure and so heres to the beginning of an exacting year.
Below are photos from the past week and if you hover over them you can read captions talk about them.