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My departure date for Chile is fast approaching, and as I write this post from a tent in Gifford Pinchot National Forest–on this, my 30th birthday weekend rafting trip–I’m starting to feel that mix of excitement and adrenaline for what’s to come tempered by the “holy shit, what am I doing?!” feeling.

I’ve never taken a trip of this magnitude before, and everything feels like a first for me. First time in South America, first time in a hostel, first time camping on a salar, first time leaving work for the unknown. It’s a pretty scary feeling when you realize you’re leaving behind everything you know to venture off into a foreign country, and honestly, the structured, safe environment of studying abroad in Spain doesn’t even compare to this next trip.

It’s tough to prepare:  I vacillate between focusing on the micro, then macro, then back to the micro details. Should I stay in an airbnb or a hostel? Will I have time to visit the pisco distilleries in the Elqui Valley? How am I getting back to the USA? (Obviously it’ll be by plane but the when is still unresolved).

So many questions, so little time. All I can do is plan where I can and leave the rest up to the universe. Ambiguity and I are familiar friends, and we’re getting closer every day. I suppose at the end of it all I’ll look back and be thankful that for all the uncertainty that exists, and that the forces of nature will largely play into how I make my traveling decisions. (Seriously:  I’m tracking storms that’ll bump the likelihood I get fresh powder or better waves.) There’s something comfortingly familiar in knowing that wherever I go, the knowledge that I bring with me from home will help me to make better decisions along the journey.

The final destination of this trip may not be clear but that’s not the point. The adventure lies in the journey and the discovery:  of self, of others’ stories, and of a path I’m bushwacking for my own future.

God, I’m excited. Bring it on.

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