I was not prepared for the barricaded wall of police officers as we followed our taxi driver down the sidewalk and out of the confines of the fenced Cusco airport. As usual, I had done just enough research to be a step above ignorance upon touchdown in Peru. First, we had written a skeletal 6-day itinerary on pace with Speedy Gonzales, the necessary reservations booked for our transport and lodging. Second, I watched a blurry copy of a National Geographic documentary on YouTube exploring the engineering and mystery behind Machu Picchu. That was it.
Just a few days following Georgia and Duncan’s wedding, the rest of the family and I jetted off for our annual #ComptonsConquer family vacation – this year on a home exchange to the Dominican Republic. We knew we would desperately need to slow it wayyyyyy down and recuperate. Now at the end of our vacation, we have finally caught up on some well-earned R and R. The house we traded, Villa Las Ballenas, is situated in Las Galeras on the far eastern edge of the Samana Peninsula, a sliver of land barely attached to the rest of the DR that decided it wanted to have a go at reaching across the Atlantic for Puerto Rico. The village is charming, comprised of local agrarian Dominicans and a substantial smattering of ex-pats barely sustaining European resorts and eclectic dining in the off-season.
If we’re friends on Facebook or you follow me on Instagram, you know that, after an incredible year living and studying in New Zealand — one of the most adventurous, beautiful countries on the planet — I did not settle right into the working life of most young adults.
Since I returned to the States in the middle of the school year and needed to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops to be certified to teach in South Carolina, I devoted the spring to re-grounding myself in American culture (I love this country more than ever), spending time with dearly missed family and friends, obtaining my teacher licensure, and finding a job before August. I realized any leftover time was an opportune window of, as Mariah has coined, funemployment. For the last two months, I have continued to travel and enjoy some of nature’s most precious gems — first hiking among the towering glacial mountains and gale-force winds of Patagonia, then on to swimming in Havasupai’s crystal blue waters and camping in Joshua Tree’s dinosaur rock desert.
Our first 72 hours in Chile have gone so smoothly. I floated into the customs entry line amidst the sea of others disembarking from our flight, slightly disconcerted after a three-leg, twenty hour journey. “Well hello there, friend. Fancy seeing you here.”
And there, just a row ahead of me in line, was Mariah. I dove under the line divider and embraced one of my best friends. There was lots of jazz-hand jumping and high-pitched outbursts and laughing and more hugging.
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!
Last week I reunited with some of my favorite people on the Big Island: Hoffa, Mama, Georgia, Sweet RoRie, and Mr. Cain. Since 2007, my parents have prioritized an annual family vacation. I use that term loosely, since these trips rarely involve too much relaxing.
Sometimes we take on exotic international places. Last summer we flew to Ecuador, exploring the Amazon Jungle and quaint mountain town of Banos. Amidst adventures like white water rafting and biking to waterfalls, we also got really sick, had our water cut off, and endured a twenty-hour bus ride circumnavigating landslides throughout the country.
A few weeks before flying to Hawaii, I was FaceTiming one of my best friends, ranting on about my preparations and how excited I was getting.
“And you’re going all by yourself?”
“For that first week, yes!”
“That sounds terrible. Like that would be on my list of top ten things to never do.”