Tag Archives: wanderlust

So today…

So today my Peace Corps group had the chance to meet the Governor of our Province where we are doing our Pre-Service Training. Everyone was practicing how to introduce themselves correctly this week because when it’s in Thai it’s no longer as simple as “Hi, My name is….” we aren’t Eminem after all. Our introductions include formally saying our first name, last name, city, state and country and formal ending determined by your gender, in the correct order and tones (since Thai is a tonal language one tone off and you could offend someone).

So we all took our turns and as I see my groups go I feel pride for each one. But most of all I feel pride for the Latinos, here we are so far from our home and culture and we all sympathize with one another and appreciate each other because by speaking Spanish we can bring ourselves home if only for a moment. Each of us went, sounding slightly off because transitioning from Thai to Spanish is quite the feat, but as Ortega, Santos, and Puentes speak I feel a sense of unity and knowing that we have each other in this. We may struggle learning Thai but we’ve all been through this before, some learning English, others with Spanish, but we all rejoice in knowing at the end of this we will be poly lingual.

Why is the Latino Pride so important? I feel Latino pride so heavily that I’ve even been accused of self segregation. The truth of the matter is whether it be intentional or not there is a certain behavior and mannerisms that can be observed in each racial group. White Americans (from my observations), tend to put a happy face on and appear friendly with every group, but they are the ones that are just as quick to turn and gossip about you. While in some cases Americans are seen as direct, they’re not. With that said most every time I spend time with White Americans I find myself confused as they both insult and compliment one another. However, with Latinos what you see is what you get, that is especially true with Latinas, we are queens of giving honest, rough truths. We are queens of observing, and giving our opinions and moreover we are queens of saying our truths in the most clever way. Does this make us many friends? No. Do we care? Not really. But the friends we do have stick with us through thick and thin. Do all of these instances stand true? Not really, but based on my observations it’s what I believe. I have had white friends that mean the world to me, but I have also had Latino friends that I can’t stand. So with that said, it’s not always a “race thing” it’s a this is who I choose to associate myself with thing.

Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres.

Spanish Proverb, y tu Madre.

Things To Remember When Peace Corps Gets Rough.

Why did you join? Was it to better yourself? Or better a community? Well yes and yes. Travel has always been a fantastic way to better yourself, and when you return you have stories that inspire and fascinate. Through some of these stories you encourage others to travel and the chain begins, each traveler shares their story and from that everyone benefits and everyone learns. Bettering the community? I can only hope I affect the whole community where I am stationed but I imagine that it will end up being one person or a small group that I inspire and that most certainly will be enough. I joined so that I could see through new and refreshed eyes, for though I love my home, both Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico, life was hitting a standstill and becoming routine. May I never go back to being the bitter bartender closing one restaurant and opening the other the next day. May I never be the server having to force out laughs, or repeating the same question 150 times a day, “Black beans or refried?” May the next time that I hear mariachi music be on the shore in Mexico, and god forbid I sing another franchise happy birthday song. When times are rough, and they will be. Think of the anticipation you had before coming to Thailand. Think of how you anxiously counted down the days before you left and eagerly stashed away the money hoping to eat every Thai dish imaginable. Think of how proud your family is and will be when you complete your service. Think of the next journey, but remember to enjoy the day. Count your blessings for they are so obviously in front of you and remember, it may be a bad day, but it’s a bad day in Thailand.

Snorkeling

If I asked you to draw blind hope what would it look like? Could you create a melody that sounds like the best moment in your life? If I asked you what it felt like to drive home, knowing that there is someone waiting for you, could you tell me? These moments, these feelings transcend the boundaries of the human experience. They are proof that this world exists on a deeper level than what we could ever imagine. These moments make up the world we were meant to see. So where am I going with these philosophical thoughts? It’s simple really. We need to keep trying, keep exploring, and keep sharing these moments to enrich our souls but more importantly, to inspire others to seek out adventure.

Snorkeling. With that introduction, you might’ve thought that I found a land that time didn’t command or climbed a mountain whose peak no man has seen. No. I went snorkeling in Cayo Icacos. My friend had suggested that we take a “catameringue” trip. I initially found humor in the name because it was so similar to the delicious lemon pie. It wasn’t until several weeks after we came home that I realized I was pronouncing it horribly wrong, apparently, it’s spelled “catamaran.”  Good start, but as long as we remember to keep moving forward, it will all be okay.

We pulled up to this beautiful dock, with boats floating on crystal clear water. After tossing our shoes in a bin (still not sure why we did that) my friends immediately went to the back of the boat. In loyal fashion (and because I had no idea what else to do) I followed. I’ve never been on a boat like this before. As soon as we started sailing away, we bobbed in tandem with the gentle waves, swayed with the breeze, and was graced with an indescribable view. Words could never really do it justice. Suffice to say, I didn’t know where to look, but was intent on committing everything to memory. It was important to make sure everyone else in our four-person adventure group was getting this same experience, so I kept checking in. There’s nothing better than seeing the people you care about happy (not even a view like this one).

When we stopped near a beach, Kelly asked my shoe size. I thought she was joking, then I realized we were going to snorkel. Apparently, everyone else knew this was happening except for me. It was all such a new experience, and to be totally honest… I never knew how people breathed out of the snorkel tubes. One pair of flippers, goggles, snorkel tube, and one quick lesson later, I was intrinsically part of this warm, blue ocean. I can’t remember how long we swam, I wasn’t going back on the boat until I saw a fish. After I did, I rushed to the boat to relay this information and despite my excitement, I was given the look. “You saw a fish” – Kelly. “One fish” – Shannon. “Your going to love the next place we go.” – Kelly. Fifteen minutes later, we sailed to another island. On the way, a bird got so close to the boat and flew with us for a few seconds. It may sound silly, but I felt like we were one of the same. Imagine that? When it was time to get back in the water, everyone started jumping off the boat. Super casually throwing themselves off the side like it was THE NORM. After a little encouragement, I did too. It was a little high, but jumping in is never a bad thing is it? Read close because this next part, it’s unreal. My friends were already swimming ahead of me, I got distracted by the views above water. As soon as I started swimming, a school of blue and yellow fish were directly beneath me. They were swimming all around, comfortable and happy at home in the sea. My heart at that point was too full, but then Kelly turned around (I had no idea she was even waiting) and gave me some bread to feed them. Honest to Pete, they came right up. They weren’t scared or apprehensive, just trusting and excited (how cool is that?!) We swam and swam, saw coral reefs, gigantic fish with vibrant patters, sea urchins, and fish with long noses. I don’t remember how long I was under water, time froze in that moment. When I did come up to feel the sun, I looked to the boat only to find three people already waving back at me.

You never really know when the best days of your life are going to happen. One morning, you wake up and fall off a hammock. Then you find yourself on a boat, in the middle of an ocean, on a clear day, surrounded by people with hearts of gold. It’s the kind of day you don’t know what you did to deserve, the kind of day you revisit in the hard moments, it was the kind of day that ignited a passion. So no… I didn’t peak an unclimbed mountain or travel down an endless river. I went snorkeling, and that experience in itself, was enough. More than enough.