Last week a friend and her fiancé packed their rental car and booked it across the country, west to east, to start working on a Virgina-based CSA farm as interns. At the going-away party their house billowed with friends stopping by to chat and nosh on Pacific Northwest nibbles, offering advice, well-wishes and snapshots of memories. The four of us started chatting about travel–friend & fiance, me & Sam. Friend and fiance both spent a lengthy time teaching English in Ecuador and had a few words of wisdom to pass along before Sam & I head off to Thailand for a year.
Pack this. Don’t pack that.
Remember not to…
Always remember to do…
After nattering about what to pack and how to navigate public transportation in a foreign tongue, he said, “You guys will surely enjoy your adventure.” Then he stopped himself.
“No,” he started. “’Adventure’ is a word I hate to use. Before I left for Ecuador people would tell me to enjoy my adventure. As if moving to another country was like taking an extended vacation. That REAL life didn’t start until you got back to the U.S. That you were just fiddling around, trying to figure out what to do next.”
“Adventure,” he swilled from his beer. “No. This is not a vacation. This is the beginning. This is the start of something new and real.”
And that got me thinking. At first I was excited by the “adventure.” Excited about the new prospects of apartment-hunting in a language I neither speak nor read. About teaching my own language to others, eager learners and the lackadaisical as well. I long to inspire the desire for learning and I long for the new experience of ordering food from a grime-infested street cart in a foreign city where the honking taxis and puttering motorbike noises become as normal as friends chattering over dinner. Where confusion and frustration are normal on a daily basis. Where home becomes a place of new foods, unrecognizable yet savory, new landscapes, unnavigable yet beautiful, new people, unapproachable yet friendly.
This is an adventure. It’s also the beginning.