Travel Nerves

Happy Valentine’s Day! As my soul friend and Italy study abroad companion Mariah so aptly posted earlier today, this year, Cupid set us up on a date with the mountains – in Patagonia! If you’re sheepishly hiding your ignorance that this word is more than just a fluffy fuschia fleece name brand, you’re not alone. FYI though, it’s also the region in Chile and Argentina at the very bottom of South America. Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll land in Santiago, reunite with Mariah – who I haven’t seen in 15 months – and the first big JComp Adventure of 2017 will commence!


It’s a good thing I’m so cheap that I pack most of my meals for layovers rather than pay inflated flights in terminal food courts. Sitting outside of JFK’s Terminal 4, I have finally landed in limbo, both physically and metaphorically. Physically, because my layover here is 6 hours long, and in my haste to get to my next gate and THEN relax, I did not have the forethought to realize that customs is not going to screen me four and a half hours before my departure. So rather than chilling in the comfort of a lounge seat or restaurant bar in Terminal 5 where I landed two hours ago, I ate my unrefrigerated leftover crab cakes outside of the terminal, on a blue plastic chair that’s technically only reserved for the handicapped and elderly anyway. Now I’m cumbersomely attempting to write this post on my phone and kicking myself for a rookie mistake. I hate making rookie mistakes.

I’m in a metaphorical limbo, because on this hard seat, I rest in the calm surf before the wave of cultural excitement about to crash over me once we begin wandering the streets of Spanish-speaking Santiago. Prior to the “rest” of sitting for twenty hours in transit, the last few weeks I have been running on a speeding hamster wheel around Mt. Pleasant – trying to submit teaching applications, and squeeze in a few more babysitting jobs and friend outings, and finalize trip plans for the next few months, and finish up wedding projects for Georgia. I emailed Save the Dates, successfully uploaded the invite list to the RSVP online platform we’re using (…all 618 guests); and finished designing, printing, cutting, and glueing chic burlap Extra Information inserts. Whew! All these to-dos, with a deadline of today, have been simultaneously exciting and exhausting. They did not, however,  allow much time to process or reflect or get stoked about the fact that I would actually shortly be embarking on one helluva journey. 

Beyond the to-dos, my mind has more recently gotten stuck in the stress of packing, like making sure I had, and could fit, food for 11 days on the trail. Or how I had to run to Dick’s Sporting Goods this morning because Georgia accidentally took the ONE pair of Nike shorts I planned on packing. And how that kind of threw off my relatively “together” mental preparation for some hectic packing two hours before I needed to leave for the airport. How I’ve already realized that I left my hat drying outside after it was washed, or how I forgot to pack an extra pair of contact lenses and dark chocolate and cushions for this planters wart on the bottom of my foot and toilet paper in a ziplock bag and deodorant (deodorant! Which I refuse to spend $6 on in the airport). How I couldn’t find one pair of the wool socks I wanted to bring, and the other pair I did bring I neglected to put in my carry on, so my feet are going to be cold tonight. Things I should know by now. Petty things, many of which I can solve with simple purchases  and don’t affect my overall travel, but remembering after the fact, still mess with my mind, still make the butterflies in my gut act up a little, still make me question how experienced or novice of a traveler I really am.

But it’s all good. Because if I was too busy beforehand to get excited, being in the airport now makes me STOKED. All I needed was to walk through the sweeping terminal halls, bask in the serenade of foreign languages around me, the portrait of people who don’t look like me, setting off to their own destinations. And strangely, as I leave my birth home, I also rediscover my world-wide home in this international environment I find so invigorating. For me, I intrinsically associate airports with the anticipation of enriching experiences and welcome opportunities for growth. My nerves have subsided, and if the small packing hiccups I made are the biggest mistakes on this trip, we would be sailing on serene seas.

But I know better than that; mountain trails and international travel are mired in obstacles. It’s the nature of the beast, and overcoming those hurdles is one reason I gravitate to them. From not quite having all the camping permits we need, to intentionally deciding to hitchhike and find accommodation in the cities day-by-day, I have a hunch Patagonia will provide its own unique set of complications; we’ll take them as they come.

As we do, your prayers for safety and protection are, as always, deeply appreciated. Until the next post!

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