Peru: day 0

I haven’t even finished writing about my Vegas trip and I’m already back out the door on my next adventure. This time, I’m headed to a town outside of Lima, Peru called Huaycan to work with the Light and Leadership Initiative and teach children English.

I’ve told a lot of people about my trip, and I’ve gotten roughly the same questions repeatedly, so here’s a brief FAQ:

What made you decide to go to Peru?

I have a job where I have a gratuitous amount of vacation time, so I generally like taking at least 1 two-week vacation per year. One of my 2013 resolutions was to get out of the US to gain some perspective on life, the universe, and everything, so I put those two things together. The problem with lengthy international travel, however, is that not many people can coordinate their schedules to go with you. I want to go everywhere in the world, so finding a place that wanted me to be there too was my goal. I started searching for volunteer abroad opportunities and stumbled upon LLI, filled out an application, paid a small donation which will cover my housing and food for two weeks, and then bought my plane tickets. There wasn’t much thinking involved. It just seemed to all fit together very nicely.

So do you speak Spanish?

Nope. Not even a little bit. Good thing about teaching English as a second language, though, is that you’re not actually allowed to speak your students’ native language while teaching it. Lima is a pretty tourist-oriented place so most things are in English as well. I bought a Spanish dictionary nonetheless, though, so I’m prepared to wing it. The capacity of humans to communicate across language barriers is astounding.

Are you going to keep a journal?

I’m going to try to write here every day if there’s wifi available to me. If not, I’ll hand write some notes and come back to give a copious overview of the details of the trip.

How long have you been planning this trip?

Since the moment I stepped off the plane from my last trip. I lasted all of about an hour before getting the wanderlust itch. A lot of people, myself included, joke about how ill-prepared I always am, and my ever present wing-it attitude. I would like to clarify here that, like everything in life, practice makes perfect, and I travel a lot, so what might not seem like in-depth preparation for you is actually stuff I’ve had prepared for a long time now: packing methodology, my passport, keeping a revolving travel fund, utilizing frequent flyer and traveler points, researching travel information every minute of every day (thanks, Twitter!), setting up specific travel alerts, etc. I’d say I need about a day or two notice to be fully prepared to leave the country. Travel is something that is so deeply ingrained in my everyday life that I feel like I’m unprepared but I’m actually not.

What airports will you be stopping at for your layovers?

On the way there, Dayton to Newark, Newark to Lima. On the way back, Lima to Houston, Houston to Chicago (ugh), Chicago to Dayton.

Do you know anyone where you’re going?

Nope. I’ve been corresponding with the organization I’ll be staying with via email and that’s it. A big part of the practice aspect of travel is being comfortable going places by yourself. I frequently go see movies and go out to eat alone, go out of my way to meet and talk to new people, and try to always leave my house with as little baggage as possible (for example, I don’t usually carry a purse).

How can you afford it?

First of all, it’s not that expensive in the grand scheme of things. I do my research, I keep an eye out for deals, I collect frequent flyer points, and I automatically set aside a certain percentage of my paycheck into a savings account whose sole purpose is for adventuring. I don’t buy beer, I don’t buy stuff (unless I need to), I eat cheap, and I live cheap. That’s all there is to it. If you make your passion a priority, you can afford it.

You’re so brave! I’d never be able to do that.

(I know, this isn’t a question, but I’ve still heard it a number of times.) I’m more on the “stupid” end of the bravery spectrum, but I like that you put a positive spin on it. The truth is, I’ve lived a majority of my life in irrational fear of the unknown, and after my dad died, I decided that was stupid so I wasn’t going to do it anymore. So now, I don’t ask too many questions, I jump at opportunities to do strange things and go fun places, I don’t stress, and I enjoy the journey and whatever happens on it.

If this isn’t pretentious enough for you, the next two weeks are probably going to be a downward spiral into waxing philosophic and stream-of-consciousness prose on my feelings, maaan. So, you know, look forward to that.

I would also like to thank everyone I’ve spoken to about this trip for always being so supportive of me and my ridiculous endeavors. Like buying my house, no one has doubted me in the slightest, and for the confidence others have in me, I am incredibly grateful. It’s the only way I’ve managed to be successful in anything.

I’ll try to post again tomorrow if I find wifi.

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