Planning ahead

My stay in Mexico is almost up. My job ends in about a week. After that, I’ve got a week in Mexico City where I’ve planned some day trips. Then to the US to take care of some business and visit friends in Atlanta. (For my ATL friends: It’s my first trip back in 3 years! I’m going to post a restaurant where we can meet up, probably Saturday, July 22nd, from 6-8p, somewhere in downtown Decatur. SAVE THE DATE!)

I start my new job in Peru on August 1, but will arrive a week earlier to get settled in. I’m ready for the next adventure!

Peru is only 6 months, though, at most. Visas are limited and it’s tough to make plans until I’m positive of the length of the stay. But I can dream now! I’m making a list. If I’m lucky I can do many of the things I want to do.
The following list probably seems aggressive to most people, but I’m still in good health and have a lot I want to see. Also, I’m not getting any younger and hiking is only for those with good knees (So far; so good!). I’m lucky mine have lasted so long. And, let’s face it, life is short. Here are things I’m considering over the next two years:
  • Taking a tour of Peru in January 2018, before I leave the country. I’ve found one that will let me see Machu Picchu and the Amazon, but still get me out of the country before my visa expires. I have a few short breaks in my teaching schedule while in Peru and should be able to do some touring, but nothing this extensive. One of my mistakes in Mexico was not taking a full country tour before my visa runs out. In the future, I’ll try to get a full country tour before I start a new job. It will give me a better orientation to the country and besides, it’s a shame to live in a country for a year and see so little of it because you work 6 days a week!
  • The Annapurna trail in Nepal. It would be best for me to do this in February 2018, just as I’m returning from Peru, since I’ll be more accustomed to high altitudes. Altitude sickness and hiking is a poor match and I’m very susceptible to it’s affects. I’ve had an interesting email exchange with a trekking company and I feel really good about this possibility.
  • Taking a teaching job in Ecuador. (This is likely i​f​ the next adventure doesn’t work out) They like new teachers to start in January or May of most year​s (Remember they are in the opposite cycle of seasons to the USA), but most seem to only allow 6 month assignment​s. It’s an interesting country and I can probably continue my Spanish learning and see the Galapagos Islands.
  • I’ve applied to The Peace Corps to work in Madagascar. My odds are probably low, but my application has been accepted. If it works out, I’d go in June​ ​2018 for 27 months. ​This is a long shot, but who knows!​ I find my life is more exciting if I have a few odd possibilities in my future. And some of them even happen! If successful, obviously, my life is planned out for quite some time (at least by my standards!). Not getting my hopes up. The worst part is that I probably won’t know until December 1 if I’m accepted as a potential candidate, and will still have to pass various physical exams, learn the language and more.

Author’s note 6/29/2017: I applied to The Peace Corps 3 months ago, but today got a note saying that the starting date for the position I applied for (they only let you apply for 1 at a time) has been pushed back. It is now listed as “indefinite.” My application is being withdrawn. If I want to try again, I have to reapply from scratch. Again. This is the 2nd time a program has been blocked like this. Additionally, 2 programs (in 2 completely different countries) were announced in a press release last year. I was very interested both. These should have posted in January, but they haven’t. When I inquired I was told that these also had indefinite start dates. I assume this means the programs are on hold or have fallen through.

The current administration isn’t too crazy about helping its own citizens (the health care program, cuts to various social programs etc.). Perhaps The Peace Corps anticipates budget cuts and/or a reduction to the countries it will support? All I know is that an organization that makes promises and doesn’t follow through isn’t a good place to risk a couple years of your life on. I hope it will gain stability again, but this just doesn’t look like a good time to enter The Peace Corps. I tried not to get my hopes up, but am sad and disappointed by today’s email. 

  • An African safari (photos only, of course). I’m very interested in Kenya. A couple of my favorite books are West With the Night by Beryl Markham and Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). Both are based in the former British East Africa.
  • The Mountain to Sea trail in North Carolina.
  • The Coast to Coast trail in the UK. I’ve practically memorized Pride and Prejudice and they talk about the wonders of The Lake District. This trail goes through it. I could see the United Kingdom in a way few people do.
  • ​One of the nicest teachers here has a (remote) possibility of a short term teaching job in China (maximum 3 months), living in an apartment one of her family members owns. ​In a perfect world, we’d get lessons in Mandarin as part of the rent. If she decides to go, I might be able to get a job there, too. It’s another long shot and we really just discussed it in passing. Still, sounds exciting. I’ve avoided teaching in China because they have a reputation for violating their contracts, offering substandard housing, and because of the limited internet (a.k.a The Great Fire-Wall of China). If I had secure lodging, a short time span, assistance with the language and a friend, it could be a great adventure.

OK, so it’s a lot. But what is life without our dreams!