Jungle Dest: Reprise

I’ve been struggling with how I was going to write this, and when it would be appropriate and accurate to say that I really am back in it. Today marks one month that I’ve been back in this insanely beautiful, though beautifully insane, country. I think one month is a good amount of time to go off of.

If any of you reading this has somehow happened to exist under a rock and out of my life in general since the end of May, surprise! I moved to Latin America. The organization that I interned for last fall hired me full-time, so I’m currently working as the Assistant Director of Admissions and Communications at Kalu Yala. No, I didn’t think this through; no, I haven’t graduated school yet; yes, I will graduate — eventually; and yes, I am so, so happy.

Despite leaving a lot of loose ends blowing in the wind as my plane lifted off of the ground in Detroit on July 3rd, I’m desperately trying to keep my life together and my relationships stable. Of course, this isn’t exactly a simple task when I’m also managing new relationships with a nearly brand new set of coworkers and acclimating once more to a very, for lack of a better word, unconventional work environment and lifestyle that I jumped back into on July 4th. I would be a shameless liar if I said it was all palm leaves and sunshine all of the time (especially since we’re coming up on Rainy Season). Life, while amazing and colorful and everything that I hoped for, is still difficult, stressful, gross, and dangerous. I have a hard enough time just walking down a street at home; here, I’m also maneuvering over jagged rocks, getting snagged on barbed wire, collecting nips from machetes, and living with the constant fear of waking up to a wandering spider or a scorpion in my boot. This life is not for the faint at heart.

With that being said, I’m so grateful. Unbelievably grateful. I am back in this amazing country, getting paid to do something that I love, developing further personally, and gaining valuable knowledge of programs, skills, and strategies that will help me in huge ways throughout my professional career. While I miss many wonderful humans in Michigan, I vehemently remind myself each day to be where my feet are and focus on what is happening in my current reality. Accepting and loving where I am is key, spiders and all.

On another note — I will be visiting Michigan for a bit in mid-October. If you feel like hanging out with me and don’t mind if I smell a little weird, October 17-25 will be the time to chill! Mark your calendars, friends.

Live from Panama, this is Jungle Dest signing off. xx

Smooth Sailing – in the Canals of Amsterdam

Would like to note that the reason that I haven’t really been posting so much is because my power converter for my USA chargers broke! The only reason I have any charge on my laptop still is because I’ve been borrowing the chargers of other people in my hostels while they aren’t there… you gotta do what you gotta do. So yeah, limited power = limited posts.

Okay! So we left off on a very unfortunate day coming into London. I would now like the record to show that London was indescribably fantastic. I have never been to a more lively, exciting, and diverse place in my life. Even out in Oxfordshire, it was just gorgeous. Most of the people that I met were so wonderful and helpful, and I’ve already made a lot of friends along the way. I also last-minute was able to attend the Hero Round Table leadership conference in London, thanks to some friends who are involved in the organization of it. I also met some very interesting people there and was able to network a little with individuals of similar interests. All in all, London was beautiful and alive and amazing and I’m already looking forward to spending more time there.

From London, I flew to Denmark, and then got a text from a friend studying in Sweden, so instead of taking a train to Copenhagen, I hopped onto a train to Sweden. My weekend in Sweden was filled with biking, beer, viking castles, dancing, good pals, and tons of sunshine. I really lucked out. I wish I had planned better, because I honestly would have loved to just stay longer there, but I foolishly had already bought a return ticket. Sunday night, I took a train back to Copenhagen. Copenhagen was a very old, very wealthy city that I was only able to spend 48 hours in, but during that time, I saw a lot of really interesting things, such as Christiania, the rogue civilization that basically just does whatever they want. I also somehow met a couple people that just graduated from Michigan State University and are moving to Ann Arbor in the fall, incredibly close to me. I spent most of my time hanging with them, and I’m definitely looking forward to hanging with them when we’re all back in the states. It really is a small world.

I arrived in Amsterdam on Tuesday night, and this city does not disappoint. Again, lots of new pals. Feeling the personal growth and getting out of my social comfort zone is so good. Went out for a few drinks with a German girl and a Russian girl the first night, and it was honestly so funny and cool to all come from such different backgrounds but be having an awesome time together, drinking Abuelo rum (Yes, KY pals, I found it in AMSTERDAM) and hanging with a few Dutch dudes on the patio until the place closed. Then, when I splurged and went on the Heineken Experience VIP tour, it was just me and a huge group from Florida together. There were eight of them, all family and significant others, and we all immediately got along. This family was hilarious and dynamic and totally out of control in the most fantastic, enjoyable way. They invited me to dinner, and then to breakfast and a canal cruise with them the next morning. I am still blown away by their generosity.

So today is Friday, and of course I’ve hit some art museums and just enjoyed this beautiful city. I will say that, as far as canal cities go, Amsterdam over Venice any day of the week. A slight bump did come up when I realized that I had lost my backup credit card in Sweden, just as my limit was approaching on the one I was already using for most things. I’m running out of money now due to that very silly mistake on my part, but seeing as I go home in less than a week (WHAT???), I think I should be okay. Not a huge deal; just have to eat most of my meals from grocery stores, rather than restaurants! Luckily, I prepaid for all of my hostels and transportation. Good work, Dest.

Anywho. I have a few days left in Amstie, and then I move on to my one day in Switzerland to visit an old friend! Very stoked. Very happy. Very chill.

Good vibes, my friends xx

Down to the Wire

It’s that time of year — everyone’s semester is ending, and everyone is thinking abut the infinite possibilities that this summer can bring. Some are off to internships in new cities, others are back home in their old cities, and if you’re like me, you’ll be indulging in the freedom that this one American life that we¬†have gives us.

My next adventure begins in just five days. Sheer insanity! It hasn’t even hit me yet, and I think that’s why it’s so insane. For those that don’t know, I have indeed locked down an itinerary! I’ll be flying into Paris, spending about a week there, popping over to London for a week, jumping over to Copenhagen for a long weekend, Amsterdam for my last week, and then literally one day in Switzerland to say hello to an old friend. I’ll actually be meeting up with several people along the way in different cities, and if you happen to be in the area between May 2nd and May 23rd, please let me know! I would love to see ya.

I was actually really worried up until yesterday that I would have to call off the whole thing because I had debilitating migraines for the last five days and couldn’t keep down anything that I ate or drank. My muscles were excruciatingly tense and it hurt to breathe. I have a vendetta against hospitals, and I even went to one. That’s how close I thought I was to dying. Luckily, after one last good upchuck from my body, I finally began to feel almost okay(ish) yesterday, and continue to feel better by the hour. I even ate a sandwich today! That’s the first actual thing I’ve eaten since Saturday. I think I had even come to terms with the fact that I was not going to be able to do this, but somehow, the universe pulled through, and here I am. I’m just thankful that all this didn’t happen while I was abroad.

Until then, I still have one final left, which I definitely need to study for.

Cheers, and more to come next week!

Pre-Travel Stresses

I’ve hardly been home a month from my self-exploration trip abroad in Europe, and I’m already gearing up for my next adventure. In less than a month, I’ll be jetting off to Panama City, Panama for an internship with a wonderful company called Kalu Yala. I’ll be working with a group of other like-minded individuals to build a sustainable city in the rain forest.

I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker when it comes to traveling; what can I say? I like to live. Right out of high school, my best friend and I spontaneously bought plane tickets only three days in advance to spend a week in New York. Traveling and seeing things outside of my little Michigan town is too fulfilling for me not to take every opportunity I can to get out there.

Every day since I got back from Europe, I have been counting down and planning for Panama. I’ve been drawing up packlists, emailing program coordinators, stalking flight price trends, and obsessing over everything I may or may not need while I’m there. I am literally driving myself crazy, and it’s hard to take a step back and just breath for a second sometimes. In these common moments of insanity, I remind myself of the principles of Taoism: to just be. Be who you are, where you are, when you are there. Be happy just to be.

I’m looking forward to meditating in the forests and in our little pink apartment building to relieve myself of the stresses of life and work. I’m looking forward to meeting many wonderful souls during my time in southern Central America. I hope to pick up some Spanish and do something that I never would have expected myself to have the guts to do. This will be a spectacular adventure, but in the meantime, I am here. I will be.