I have a new friend to friend post up for you HERE!
I hope you are all having a fantastic day today! So Janae has had a few requests that I write a post about some of the traveling I did before we knew each other, so she asked me to share a post with you today about that.
I worked in a residential treatment facility for girls around the ages 13-18 for several years. I started off as a Spanish teacher there to work my way through college. A friend approached me there about how awesome it would be to take the families of these girls somewhere completely out of their comfort zone and serve others, wherever that might be. VERY LONG story made short we got the okay and we were able to test it out and eventually made a complete service program that traveled all throughout the world and the United States.
This job took me to Singapore (2 times), Indonesia (2 times), Nicaragua (3 times), Africa, Alaska (2 times), Havasupai (2 times), Peru (2 times) all over the Appalachian Trial and surrounding communities (2 times). I haven’t looked through these pictures for a long time, so it took a while to sort through some of them. I want to share some highlights I had on these trips.
1- I honestly have not known my favorite color my whole life. I always would just say blue or green just because it was what popped into my head. I finally found my absolute favorite color in the world in Alaska near Seward on a hike to view the Harding Ice Fields (the fields are in the picture below). The hike was killer and to my memory it was around 4-5 miles out and back and each mile out had an elevation gain near 1000 feet. The views were spectacular. If you look closely you can see the people on the hills to give you a little perspective of how big these fields are.
This right here is my favorite color…. I don’t even know what you would call it, maybe Glacier blue??? At the end of the hike you over look this valley of ice fields and I was lulled away by the hint of blue in the fields. I had to run down to the glaciers and get a closer look and man I think I just stood here for 20 minutes taking in the experience.
2- One of the trips to Alaska wasn’t necessarily a service/humanitarian trip. As I mentioned before, I worked with girls who had experienced horrible traumas, eating disorders, substance abuse, mental disorders and much more. After graduation and working through the program what experts realized was that the father/daughter relationship faltered after the program. The dads oftentimes went back to work and the work they were doing plateaued, so we built a trip based on building relationships and making memorable moments. We did so many different things, but the Harding Ice Field hike was VERY hard for some of these dads and daughters. Everyone did it at their own pace and while it was a hellish thing for them, by the end of the trip almost every one of them recalled this being one of their favorite moments. Maybe that is why sometimes we desire to do hard things like 10ks, half-marathons, marathons or ultras.
This isn’t a realization of traveling, but I LOVED seeing the vast amount of wildlife in Alaska. I was so close to so many types of animals. We always play would you rather in our house and I always ask would you rather live in the mountains or near the ocean. Usually my answer is the ocean because I just love the water, but if it’s the mountains in Alaska with glaciers and everything it has to offer, I would choose that every time.
3- Traveling to Peru was an experience that I will never forget. It was actually the first trip that we actually helped organized. I wish I could say that everything went perfect, it didn’t. I don’t think I slept much during the 7 days. This trip definitely shaped the rest of my life though. We went to this remote town in the Andes mountains. We gave donated a lot of supplies and helped paint and remodel a school. This was the first trip of our program. When we gave to those in need we were able to first hand see the little difference we were making, we all left in tears. All of the problems that we faced faded away while we were there and everyone was just there in the moment serving others and lifting up others. That was pure happiness.
Of course we were able to see some of the amazing places too!!
4- This world has so much variety in it. Some live in huge high-rise buildings in big cities, some live in the Andes mountains and grow hundreds of different types of potatoes.
5- Some people see guinea pigs as pets and some see them as a delicacy to eat. There is some rush that comes with eating strange foods. This one definitely goes on the list. Along with chicken feet soup, cow brains and stomach, salmon hearts…. Yeah I’ll save you the rest just in case you are eating when you read this.
Africa was by far one of the most culturally shocking places we went. Within the big cities it didn’t appear to be much different but after traveling 15 or 20 minutes outside of the cities, life was very different.
6- I absolutely love kids. I think they all have the same qualities wherever you go. One of my favorite things to do everywhere I would go in the world is bring a big package of pop rocks with me. I would tell them its a popping candy and it would feel funny and it was SOOO fun to see them try it for the first time. I always made sure I had these every trip!
This was an old run down church being rented out as a school. School funds were VERY limited so we partnered with a few other organizations and decided to build a school in a rural community of Lusaka.
This is what we were able to do in about a week. I went through my pictures and I couldn’t find the finished product. I’ll look some more if I can!!
7- Don’t ever camp this close to the Zambezi river. We had guides, but in all honesty this was one of the scariest nights of my life. Camping next to crocodiles and hippos. I know I have told the story before on the blog, but one night I woke up with a hippo just outside my tent. I hope I never have the same experience again.
We canoed down the Zambezi river next to these guys…. Probably one of the dumbest things I have ever done. BUT, one of the most memorable.
Nicaragua!!! This place is VERY special to me.
We partnered multiple times with a heath clinic that served women with cervical cancer in Nicaragua. This was a pivotal experience In getting me more interested in going back to school and becoming a nurse.
8- So one day I was in Nicaragua following up on some contacts and ideas I had for service projects and I found myself in San Juan del Sur, the southern part of Nicaragua. The next day I needed to be in a northern part 4 hours away. During this trip I didn’t have a car and I had to find some transportation and because it was Sunday mostly everything was closed. I started to get a little concerned, but finally found some transportation. My driver and I spent a long time in the car together and we talked about everything… Long story short we talked about his community that was on the Island of Ometepe. They dhad some needs and his wife was part of the “city council” or something similar. I had only known the guy for 4 hours and we set up a project and when I got back to the States I wired him $3,000 to get the materials for the project. Talk about trust or stupidity right? Haha Well we changed MANY families’ lives. Below is a picture of how they cook with an open flame and what it does to the house in the next picture.
This is the final project that we had designed and carried out for over 20 different families. This changed their lives and it was amazing to be part of this. I learned that sometimes you have to take a risk and those risks can make ALL the difference.
We were also able to repair rundown schools and repaint them. I always found myself on the roof.
9- It doesn’t matter where you are or how advanced technology is, there is always something to be made better. We had the privilege to work with an all-girls treatment center, the first to my knowledge from what I was told. I brought therapists with me to help do some trauma work with the girls. We also did training with the employees to help them further their work in Singapore. This was an AMAZING experience in a first-world country
This is were we stayed for a of couple days. This was AMAZING, I loved this place.
This is a fresh-water well that we dug for a small island that still provides water for the community to this day!!
10- Lastly one of the main things I have realized from my travels is that there are so many ways to explore and make a difference. You don’t always have to go somewhere on the other side of the world, although it may help and be really fun! I also hope to instill this in our kids and start them young!
Another reminder to check out the new friend to friend post here!
Have any lessons that you learned from your experiences traveling?
What is your dream place to go to visit?
What’s your workout today?
-We are taking a few days off from running so we will live through your runs.