South America Bound!

With only about 1 week left before we board our plane for Buenos Aires, we are getting excited. I’m not sure what to expect since I’ve never travelled to one place for more than 3 weeks and this will be a 10 month long adventure. Although, I know enough about myself from past traveling experiences to very different places that the first few days will feel weird and disorienting. Whenever I arrive in a foreign place, it takes me a few days to adjust. I feel unsettled – I don’t know the language, I don’t know where things are or how to get around, some small task that I knew how to do in the US is much more difficult, etc… Maybe some people refer to this as culture shock – I don’t feel shocked…I just feel “off”. I am reminding myself that this feeling will come and it may last longer since the reality will hit that I will be there for 10 months and not just 3 weeks.

Tango dancers in Buenos Aires

I’m trying to keep my expectations at a reasonable level. We will see and do some amazing things which I am excited for. It’s hard not to get overly stoked when you read about a place and see pictures of where you’re going but there will also probably be some frustrating moments and inefficiency in our adventures. Things just don’t happen as easily and quickly as they do in the US especially when you don’t know how to navigate the roads, you don’t know the language, and everyone is just not in as big of a hurry as they are in the US. I am telling myself that these experiences are part of the journey and to enjoy them. Frustration will only inhibit me to fully enjoy this adventure.

I get asked a lot “so, what are you going to do down there?” We don’t have much of a plan which is funny because if you know me, I am a planner. We do know a few things though. We will fly into Buenos Aires. We will stay there about a week. Then we will pick up our car that we arranged to buy from a friend. Then we will drive…probably to Mendoza. And that’s all we have planned! We know there are certain places we want to see and we will probably stick to the southern half of South America (Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Uruguay) but other than that, we will go where the road takes us.

Vineyards in Mendoza at the base of the Andes

I do have a few goals and expectations (of which, I believe are reasonable):
* I want to learn as much Spanish as feasible. I want to stretch myself to speak as much as possible even if I’m not very good at first. By the end, I want to be able to have conversations in spanish with some of my Denver neighbors when I get back. We think we will probably spend the first month we are there enrolled in Spanish classes which should help.
* I want to go out of my way to meet people along the way. It seems that when you are already traveling with someone, it’s tempting to keep to yourself. You don’t go out of your way to meet fellow travelers or local people. I want to stretch myself to start up conversations with people I don’t know even if that’s intimidating to me.
* I want a painting for my living room. Not quite as insightful as my other goals but still something I hope to find while I’m down there.

Here we go!

Kirsten

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