I have on my to do list: "Final Blog Update", among several other things. I thought, okay, I'm home, I should blog about San Cristóbal and coming home. It will be my LAST BLOG.
Well, I will get to that, maybe later today, maybe this weekend. But for now, here is some news and some thoughts.
No, I didn't get married in Mexico.
Last February, I applied for a fellowship. It's called the Bonderman Travel Fellowship. More or less, it's $20,000 to travel for at least 8 months, solo (or, for me, sola). :)
Yep, you guessed it, I GOT IT. I found out last Friday, but didn't start telling people until I told my parents (e.g. now). So, in September, I am going to be taking a year leave from school in order to travel the world for 8 months.
This is still all quite unreal to me, and nothing is finalized except the fact that I have the award, but here is my tentative itinerary:
1. I am absolutely definitely without a doubt returning to Mexico. Which means that I will get to see Oaxaca, staying with another family, I hope. I will also probably get to go to Guatemala and El Salvador. I hope to be in Spanish speaking countries for at least 3-4 months, because it is TIME to really learn that Spanish, dag-nabit!
2. After that, I think I will venture out into the Pacific Ocean to Western & American Samoa. I want to spend most of my time on Western Samoa, but my students have told me (my Samoan students, that is) that I have to see American Samoa so I can compare the two.
3. After that, I'd like to swing over to the Philippines and Indonesia (yeah, relatively vague...not like there are hundreds of Islands or anything).
I was considering Thailand and Vietnam, but I think I would like to focus my attention on two major regions of the world, to begin with. I might start with Central America, or I might end closer to home. That way, if money does run out, etc., it's a cheaper plane ticket home.
Regardless of where I go, this opportunity continues to just blow my mind. It feels like every time I tell someone about it, I realize all over again that this is, indeed, happening to ME. I can't believe it.
On a closing note, I can't believe the incredible nature of the past four months. At the end of January, I thought my life was taking a turn for the worse. I had been sick, lost a bunch of weight because of it, lost an important relationship, and things were very uncertain. I'm not sure how I managed to do it, since it was so out of character for me, but I embraced the uncertainty. I think it saved me. The entire situation with the Bonderman Travel Fellowship is based on embracing uncertainty, and I feel that I can do it. It's funny how life events play into one another like that.
I think that going to Mexico was healing for me in many ways, but more importantly, it opened my eyes to how little I know about the world. And it helped me see how dangerous that is, especially as a citizen of the most influential nation in the world. It's opened up this treasure chest of feelings and dreams inside of me. In a way, I have the travel bug, but it's not desperate or "come on come on come on". It's just as if I found a new room in my house, and realized that I have tons of cool things to play with for the rest of my life. So now, I know that I have all of these dreams, all of these places I want to see, and more importantly, people I want to meet.
The Bonderman is helping me address at least six of those dreams in one continuous streak (six countries, that is, at least). Wow.
I told my host mom in San Cristóbal about it, and side commented, ¡Qué suerte! ¿Sí?
She sternly informed me, en español, that it was not luck. Clearly, I didn't understand what "luck" was. This was obviously ("¡Claro que sí!") a case of intelligence and a deserving person. It was humbling. But you know what? She's right. And I'm ready.
More on the tail end of my Mexico journey soon. Know that I'm home, safe, incredibly happy, and tanner than everyone else in Seattle, for at least the next week.