Friday, July 15, 2011

On Leaving a Place

Who knows if, when you finally leave a place for good and you feel like the place has well and truly started to grow on you and you’ve just found your place among a close circle of friends it’s because you really truly have; or because yearning immemorial for greener grass, and the eternally ineffable and poignant impermanence of human existence have called your number, and you need some reactionary heartstrings to be tugged at to avoid guilty feelings that you are a cold and impersonal drifter wandering through the world and life with no close relationships, a tree with no roots, the disease rather than the cure?

So I wondered as I said farewell to mi Buenos Aires querido after a year and change there.  I had started my online application to join the Peace Corps in June 2009, and reading that the whole process took anywhere from 3-9 months, I planned to give my notice in December and get a bit more South American traveling under my belt before I was done.  The idea was to travel around Argentina’s Western wine region of Mendoza and hitchhike down through the remote and storied wildernesses of Patagonia, before traveling up through the Bolivian Andes and the South of Peru to the ruins of Macchu Pichu.  From there I would fly up to Northern California to visit Marjana and AJ for a month or so before (as I thought), I would be sent somewhere with the Peace Corps.

All that remained was to find a traveling partner, as I’d learned from my European experience that, while traveling solo can have its rewards, being on the road by yourself can also be very lonely.  I used, a website that has proved invaluable for thousands of travelers all over the world; in fact, I met many of my Buenos Aires friends through couchsurfing, and played football once a week with that crowd.   Chris S., a recently arrived college graduate from the U.S., answered my post, and we met at a café to see if we’d be able to stand each other’s company for three weeks.  We figured we could, so with a little planning and a lot of excitement, we set off in a bus for Mendoza a week or so later.

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