1) I like to write. I’ve been writing forever.
2) The Road Less Traveled is extremely inspiring.
So why is it that when I sit down to write about RLT I get the second worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever gotten in my life? (The first happened around college essay time, I’m sure many can relate).
My mind isn’t frozen because I don’t have anything to write about. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. When I think “RLT”, so many thoughts flood my mind that the usual flow of words from pen to paper or key board to screen is all clogged up by the wealth of material RLT trips have provided me with.
But in brief, it’s like this: I went to Peru with the Pachamama trip in ’08. What. An. Experience. To this day I’m still amazed when I think back on all that we did, all that we saw. It felt like we were there for months, when really, we were only there for 25 days. The day we trekked the Inca Trail was one of the best days of my life, to date. At the end of a physically taxing 6 hour hiking day, we had reached the infamous Sun Gate. And there, sprawling out in front of us like the magnificent Wonder of the World that it is, sat Machu Picchu. Every single second of that grueling hike was worth it because of that view.
Then, I went to Tanzania on Hujambo. I don’t believe there are words adequate enough to communicate the quality of cultural immersion that RLT coordinated for us on that trip. Hujambo inspired me to set the personal goals of learning Swahili and climbing Kilimanjaro someday. Our experiences with the village school children and local orphanages lit a fire in me that will undoubtedly fuel my future pursuits of working with children.
Now, I’m not sleeping under bug nets in Tanzania or waking up to the mountains of the Urabamba River Valley in Peru. I’m not getting informal Swahili lessons from a village chief under the silhouette of Mount Kilimanjaro or enjoying the people and scenery of Waka Wasi either. Instead, I’m trekking the streets of Chicago. I’m hearing the sounds of incessantly typing hands and ringing phones in the place of an aboriginal Peruvian man’s song echoing off the walls of mountains.
Those typing hands and ringing phones are that of RLT “headquarters” in Chicago, where I am fortunate enough to be interning for the next couple of months. I consider RLT the segway that helped me pursue that which I love (travel), and to clarify what my passions are (service, cultural immersion, etc). And that’s why I’m here; to contribute whatever I can to the home base of an organization that has done so much for me, in hopes that someone else will find themselves with RLT as their own stepping stone. Or maybe even their whole road.
From Peru to Tanzania and back to the states, I’ve been RLT’d for good. These trips stay with you forever, because what you experience on them totally shifts your frame of reference as you explore both your self and the world.
Back to exploring Chicago. I’ll keep up a regular post here and give you all a sense of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the run-up to an RLT summer (their 20th, in fact!). Stay tuned☺