Current Location: Peru
Next Location: Likely, Southern Argentina

“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” 
– Anthony Bourdain

So yeah… 2018 was trial run. Now its time to get serious. And to do that, I have to learn some things, Spanish being chiefest. I’m getting better. I’d say 20% of the Spanish language is familiar to me. I need to work on deciphering the actual words I hear, my Spanish vocabulary, and how to say things in proper tense. Somehow… I have to get used to Peruvian Spanish. I was horridly amazed that I couldn’t understand even the basics of words I know already. I feel like I was given all the wrong study material for the test. Fortunately, I have two months here.

Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Beyond that, I’d say I still have to learn to budget better. I’ve got to get better with my money and accounting for expenses. Ironically, in my previous profession, I could track millions of dollars and account for the nearest $10. Variable expenses seem to get me the most, but I need to be better at finding deals as well as reducing a compulsion to fly when I can take a bus for a tenth of the cost.

(Whoa…that reminds me… 
Gotta go do this check-in for tomorrow’s flight to Lima real quick…) 

I tend to stay in private rooms with private baths in hotels or hostels, but maybe some AirBnB or homestays can be smarter. I’ll be checking into this and using these next two months in Peru to talk to other travels and find out how to be better at doing this. Lima’s going to be a good spot. Feb and March are going to be interesting. More on that later. Still planning for Patagonia in late March/April time-frame. Gotta get that figured out quickly, as well. It could be smart to trade out all my camera batteries and SD cards before then… that thought just came to me.

Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Focus and Discipline would be other objectives for my most immediate concerns. I can do better with my studies and training. This will in turn help me find and see the opportunities around me and thus, I can put myself in more advantageous positions that achieve my goals. Oh yeah…I got things to do when this journey is done.

San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

But here are the things I HAVE learned, (though still a work in progress…)

1. Its Cool to Take a Break and Do Nothing.
This was the first thing I had to learn. Up to this point, its been either stay busy or try to stay busy. Having nothing on the table or scheduled events was not anything I’m used to. In the Army we’d have a DONSA… Day Of No Scheduled Activity. On these days we’d get a normal day of duty off and could spend that time doing whatever we wanted. But usually, it was still staying busy, just not at work. If you got a day off, you got busy at home. There was always something to do or fix. When I got to Xela, Guatemala in the apartment I was renting, I got to be alone and really on my own. It took me a while to not feel guilty or wasteful of time to just chill. Its good for the mind.

Punta Gallinas, Colombia

2. Nobody Can Live Your Life For You.
I turned 50 this past August. I wanted to make some resolution to myself and the first of which was that I wanted to care less about what other people thought about me. Let me clarify. I’ve seen a whole bunch of people getting off social media to get more quality time in their lives. I think that’s a uniquely fine notion to adopt. For me, I think more quality to life is added with less time considering what other people are going to think about me if I do something or don’t do something. From my perspective, people think about you less often than you think. And those that do, when they do so with judgement, are fickle so they don’t matter. Leave’em be. All you can really do is YOU. Do you. Be you. Er’body else can go live their own lives and NOT your’s.
The question you can ask yourself is, “Does it really matter what they think?”

Christmas, Mompiche, Ecuador

At this point, the only real people that can hurt me are the ones I let stay close and it does happen. But I keep that door open, anyway instead of closing up and keeping everyone out. I find that its less preferable to be a stone-cold bitch. And as we used to say in the Army… pain is what lets you know that you are still alive. Besides, a little pain every now and again only helps you fine tune your choices of inner circle membership. So, WIN! And no, that doesn’t mean you spend your time whittling down your circle. Too many people are too quick to do that.

New Year’s, Santo Domingo, Ecuador

3. If You Want to Get to the Right Answers, You May Need to Take a Second Look at the Questions You’re Asking.
Sometimes this has to do with specificity, but more often than not, its going to be more about perspective. I’m sure you’ve seen that one meme that is a paragraph of self-loathing, but when you read the same words in the paragraph it becomes a motto of self-realization and confidence. I’ve had to step back a few times and re-examine why I kept coming up with the wrong solutions and all it took was a different perspective on the questions I was asking. Ask more specifically or change your perspective a bit. Changing perspectives will change your expectations and you won’t be surprised with the conclusions.

This is a bible verse from Leviticus 19th Chapter, Verses 33 and 34:

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

Everybody you see in these shots did exactly that. I am a foreigner in their lands and I cannot even begin to articulate to you the hospitality I have been shown by them. I have been welcomed in their homes, sat and ate with them, given guidance and counsel, a bed, trusted with their families, and I cannot thank them enough for showing a sojourner how people are to act when you come their country and I am forever grateful.

Indeed, I am a work in progress. And you get to see me develop, experiment, try and fail… all the nasty with all the achievements. I hope you enjoy this ride. I want your questions. I want your input. Most of all, though… I want you with me.

So, come on.