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Insanity, tenacity, a fiery desire for something more. A fervent passion for discovery and dissidence. For everyone these feelings differ in origin, yet they pull us all into the unknown. They propel us and our desire to leave comfort in order to feel completely inept and awed in a foreign land. Like the beatniks of Kerouac’s days, we are all exploring the parts of ourselves we didn’t know were there, until we discovered them and let them grow. We are reconnecting with the parts that life swept away. And we are living the lives we create along the “gringo trail” of South America.

For many, travel seems to be a time of transition. A window between the ending of school and the beginning of a career. The time that separates two jobs, countries of residence or even relationships. It is often the ellipses between the known and the uncertain. Something about travelling makes people reach into the depths of their beings to figure out what constants remain when everything else is stripped away. Without family, friends, a job and a residence, what is left? What is it that makes you, “you”?

For me and many others, it is a time to reconnect. A welcomed opportunity to visit with oneself. In a world that can quickly whisk one away into a race of pressures and expectations, travel serves as a platform of protest. I want to listen to the birds and monkeys chirp in canopies above my head. I want to wander the markets and taste strange fruits. I want to feel the stress and frenzied tempo of the world melt away until I am able to sit and enjoy the company of my thoughts and the warm breeze. It is easy to forget why we are embarking in the lives we have created, and it is easy for pressures to distract us from the passions that live within our hearts. It is important not to forget. For me, travel is my time to visit with myself. I know who I am, and I am reclaiming the opportunity to be with myself unapologetically.

Backpackers. You will find us somewhere between status, material belongings and the desire to be challenged. A 12 day trip, a 3 month trip or a trip that is indefinite, we all discover ourselves crossing paths in a room, sharing bunk-beds and stories over the musty stench of clothes worn for too many days. We are all bonded together by the land we hike and the personal miles we gain. Languages are different, but card games unite us. Countries are foreign but the twinkle in the eyes is the same. We each tell stories and describe places others have not yet ventured to, and the desire to experience as much of the world as possible binds us together. I want to experience things in the world for the first time and in the community of backpackers I have found I am not alone. Modern day hippies? Maybe. People taking time to enjoy the company of themselves. Definitely.

Posted by misskailyn 07:47 Archived in Peru Tagged travel backpacking solo Comments (0)

Hasta luego Seattle, I love you!

"What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see specks dispersing? It's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies."-Jack Kerouac


It is hard to put into words how fortunate I am. I am so full of love for my family, friends and the emerald city I have called home most of my life. It is with this beautiful foundation I am boarding the plane for South America.

This journey started as an idea, stirred up while pouring over grad-school textbooks and glasses of study wine. I found myself refreshing The Lonely Planet website, and picturing myself anywhere other than in my Queen Anne basement. Instead of researching beaches and resorts, I was drawn to the romantic dirt roads and bright port cities of South America. I wanted passion, grit and something to challenge my ability to not only survive, but to live. This whim turned into a plan when I announced to my family "I am going to leave and go to South America." Half testing the waters, met with surprise and support, these words concreted my daydream into a resolution. Slowly, I started to tell close friends, realizing that with each acknowledgement, my leaving became real. I sold my car, donated my belongings, quit a job I loved, packed a backpack, and now here I am, less than 12 hours away from my departure.

During the past year of anticipation, preparation and contemplation, I feel like I have ran through a gauntlet of emotions. I have felt my heart being pulled by wanderlust, nomad-ism and excitement, but also by sadness, fear and denial of what I was "giving up". Now, as the day is here, I feel like I have gone full circle. What means the most I will carry with me, and this realization gives me fortitude and strength. I now know that the friendships I have made cannot be severed by miles or time. What fits in my backpack will let me survive, but what I am carrying in my heart will give me life. I am full of love, excitement and a sense of adventure. I am ready.

Now, onward!

Posted by misskailyn 08:04 Archived in USA Tagged travel adventure friends south family love america leaving backpacking goodbye Comments (3)

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