February 4, 2013
So begins my volunteer adventure in Latin America.
The past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic deciding what to bring and what to ditch. I’m a firm believer in only taking essentials and a large heavy pack is bad news, but I have to admit I’m bringing more than I really need but for some reason don’t want to leave it behind. It must be my human material attachment paradox at work.
I ran into some difficulty determining how much to plan and how much to leave up to fate. I ended up deciding it was better to cross the Darien Gap by air instead of water, a bit safer and having a plan for Colombia in store puts this worrisome mind a little more at ease. As far as that goes I have committed to working in Sogamoso, Colombia working with an environmental NGO doing presentations for local communities about the importance of wetlands. I will also be emphasizing the conservation of Lago Tota, the largest lake in Colombia. After that I am traveling on to Ecuador to volunteer with a small non-profit called Café Lenguas and Cultura working with children and most likely teaching English. After Ecuador, Peru, a country I am very eager to explore, will be next on my list. I haven’t figured anything out for Peru yet but I wait in anticipation to be immersed in this country.
A daunting aspect of this trip is my independence in travel. I, being a woman, have a considerably harder time traveling alone safely than a man. I have taken measures to lessen my appeal by bringing modest clothing, wearing drab colors, and speaking of my imaginary husband often, but it still lingers in my mind as I anticipate my journey. I have faith in finding like-minded people who are interested in going the same direction as me and accompanying me on my bus rides around Latin America. Like a friend used to always tell me, “keep your head on a swivel.” I intend to keep this bit of advice close to heart.
I need to take a deep breath and remember why I am doing this trip in the first place and must not let myself stray from my mission of selfless service. By getting ready and nerves flying about, it’s hard not to focus my energy on myself but consciously refocus my mind on my main goal. I believe the more I think of the good I will be doing it will hopefully set me at ease and give me peace.
O, Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O, divine master, grant that I may not so much seek,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be consoled, as to console,
To be loved, as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is dying to self, that we are born into eternal light.
Prayer of Saint Francis