Yes, it has been a while, and as most of you know, I have already left Honduras. I left on April 9 and have been heading south ever since. I´m flying back to the US at the end of July and in the meantime have been to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Chile, and am now in Argentina.
The trip through Central America was pretty quick to have more time in South America, but I was able to visit my friend Jessica who is a Peace Corps Volunteer in southern Costa Rica. We had a great time there seeing some of her work, meeting her friends, and seeing what a Peace Corps village was like in another country. It was much smaller than Ocotepeque and I could definitely tell that I was in the land of lush flora and fauna rather than the land of deforestation, but there were a lot of similarities in the way she interacted with community members and the relationships that she had with them. After visiting her it was a quick trip through Panama to see Panama City and the canal before hopping on a sailboat to head through the San Blas Islands to get to Colombia.
The San Blas Islands were beautiful. I definitely paid a price to get there (being on a sailboat is nothing like being in a motorboat) but the swimming and snorkeling were fantastic. It took us five days to get to Cartagena, Colombia and I could not have been more happy to set foot on dry land. Cartagena was a fun, beautiful city, then we took off for a town further up the coast called Santa Marta. From Santa Marta a group of us did a five day hike to some ruins in the jungle, which was absolutely amazing. The hike was beautiful and out in the middle of nowhere. Possibly one of my favorite parts of the trip so far. I loved Colombia and from Santa Marta we went to Medellin, which used to be the homicide capital of the world, which I´m sure many of you already know. Medellin has changed incredibly and become a modern, progressive city whose people are really living life to the fullest. I could actually see myself living there.
From Medellin we went to a tiny valley town called Salento, then to Bogota. I didn´t like Bogota as much as we´d heard some stories that questioned the safety there and it kind of felt like a high altitude Tegucigalpa. That´s not a complement. After just a couple days there we flew to the Colombian Amazon (don´t worry, not where FARC is) and took a boat up to Iquitos, Peru where we did an awesome jungle tour. I have now seen pink river dolphins, many, many sloths, six species of monkeys including a pygmy marmoset, and visited a true Amazon town. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Peru included many amazing experiences as I also visited Machu Picchu! It was incredible. We did a two day Inca Trail hike before arriving to the ruins and once we got there, the ruins did not disappoint. It was unbelievable to walk through the ruins buried deep in the mountains high up on a mountaintop. From Cuzco we headed south to Arequipa to hike in the Colca Canyon, and then to cross into northern Chile. Many of the places I wanted to see in Chile are south of Santiago, where it is probably too cold to visit at this time of year. Because of that, we only stayed in northern Chile where we visited the desert town of San Pedro de Atacama.
We are now in Salta, Argentina and will be heading to Mendoza (wine country) on Mondya. I have a month in Argentina to eat some great food and to explore before coming home. This has been a wonderful trip so far and I´m excited for what is still to come, but I am also looking forward to coming home. I´ll have several weeks in Davis to enjoy time with family and friends before moving to Boston!! I have decided to attend Boston College for their outstanding Global Social Work program and am really excited to go back to school. I think that being in South America for winter is preparing me for the winter back east. Hopefully at least...
One last bit of news from Honduras before wrapping up: I have started a scholarship foundation for the girls in my Yo Merezco group. They are really bright, motivated girls, but I think only one would have the opportunity to attend university. The others simply do not have enough money. I told them before leaving that I was going to work really hard to get money for university scholarships, and that they in return had to work hard in school to earn the scholarship. They and their families are really excited for this opportunity. I am looking for donations and if you are interested please contact me for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org.