Welcome to These are Not Tan Lines

Circa 2002. Me at the Torres del Paine.  Don't mind the crappy quality, it's just a photo of a photo (my cheap/lazy ass didn't want to scan all my photos taken during study abroad).
Circa 2002. Me at the Torres del Paine. Don’t mind the crappy quality, it’s just a photo of a photo (my cheap/lazy ass didn’t want to scan all my photos taken during study abroad).

After returning to the U.S. frommy two-year stint in Malawi, I was working at the Peace Corps recruitment office in DC where I reviewed applications and interviewed prospective Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs).  At one point, there was an email floating between the Recruiters and the Placement Officers (the two entities that reviewed applications) that contained ridiculous quotes from various PC applications.  They were pretty hilarious to us being wise veteran volunteers.  As I read through them, I came to one quote which I swear to God was from my application.  I don’t think I ever told anyone because for some reason, I was taking myself a bit too seriously at the time.  Now looking back at the situation, it is kind of hilarious that I should find a quote possibly from– what I hoped at the time – was a persuasive essay written 4 years prior.

Sadly, I don’t have either the email or my Peace Corps application essay on hand anymore (although this is inspiration to track it down).  The gist of what it said, though, was, after living for several months without a microwave, I knew that I was up for a challenge for Peace Corps.  Regardless of whether this quote made it into my essay or not, I’m positive that thought process happened.    This seriously was one of the justifications to myself that I was cut out for the whole living in an African village thing.

To set some context, during my study abroad experience in Valparaíso, Chile, I lived with 3 Chilean college students in a pretty minimalist apartment with no central heat, match-lit water heaters, a tiny mini fridge, and no microwave just a gas stove.  To my middle-class American sensibilities, the microwave was essential to the college life.  But, ya know, we made do, and in the end I was proud of myself for that “achievement”.  At the time it was a big challenge overcome, but now it’s pretty easy to make fun of my “past self”.  I mean, living without a microwave for 5 months compared to living with no electricity as the only American in an African village for two years…well, there’s really no comparison.  But it’s an example to me that each experience is a stepping stone to another one.  Maybe I wouldn’t have done Peace Corps had I not challenged myself the way I had.

This blog is a way for me to explore that progression in some way (and because I have a shitload of pictures I want to put somewhere other than my hard drive).  I’m sure the retrospective travel musings will somehow go well with the present-day travel (are retrospective travel blogs a thing?).  I can’t say how successfully it’ll flow quite yet because, well, this is the first post. Just picture each blog post as a stepping stone.  Keep in mind, though, that they might not be consecutive stepping stones.  I don’t want to be too organized here.

Circa 2010.  Back in Chile visiting my sister during her study abroad there.
Circa 2010. Back in Chile visiting my sister during her study abroad experience.

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