This year was about facing my fears and embracing change. The reasons I decided to move abroad are very different from those of most people. This time six months ago I was VERY HAPPY. I loved my job and where I was living. I had a great support system that I could turn to whenever I needed anything. On top of that, I had just bought a beautiful 1985 Honda Rebel motorcycle! What more could I want?? Once you start feeling comfortable somewhere, it is easy to stay there and to keep doing what you are doing. But I was carrying around this dream of living in Peru. It’s hard for me to even explain why, but I have always been drawn to this part of the world and this country in particular. As I began to get more and more comfortable with my lob and my life back in the U.S., I realized that I had to take the leap now or I might never get(or want to take) another chance to live abroad. I am now coming up on my two month anniversary in Peru and what I have learned over the past few months is that challenges are key to self development and when a good opportunity comes along, sometimes you just have to take the leap, even if you do not feel like you are 100% ready at the time. It’s not always easy living in a different country and with people who are so different from me, but the benefits are well worth it. The places I have been to, the experiences I have had and the relationships I have made here are priceless. As I continue to learn and grow this year, I am also challenging myself to work on maintaining relationships with my dearest friends and family all around the world. These are the people who have been there for me through the good and the bad, despite the long distances, occasional mental breakdowns and my constant need to pursue crazy adventures. They have not only put up with me, but supported me in all that I am and all that I do. People like this are hard to come by and I want to continue to nurture these relationships and hopefully provide the same kind of love and support that they have provided me. So that’s what’s been on my mind this week, between painting boats, sewing sun nets, and selling a couple hundred raspadillas(Peruvian ice cream). Thank you for reading and for following me on my adventures!
As much as I wanted to relax, I could feel my body tensing up and filling with fear as I approached the sandy hill. “Maintain your speed. Maintain your speed,” I told myself. But, right as I hit the first patch, I panicked, let my hand off the gas and started skidding. I was losing my control and confidence fast. I rolled on the throttle a little to accelerate, but I could feel my bike sinking deeper into the sand until finally giving out and shutting off. I put the bike in neutral and stood there for a few seconds in defeat. “What was I thinking? Why did I take on this sand hill? I’m not nearly experienced enough for this kind of terrain. I can’t do this. I can’t.”
Just as I was about to give in and call over to my riding partner to come rescue me from my pit of sandy despair, I had a flashback to my first time ever riding a motorcycle(on my own). I remember the feeling I had standing in the Miller Park parking lot with my dad and my beautiful new bike. It took me at least a few minutes to work up the courage to get on and start it up. At that moment I had all my own insecurities along with the comments of skeptics and stories of fallen motorcyclists rushing through my head. But in the end my desire to ride overcame all my doubts and fears. I knew that if I didn’t take those first steps, I would never be able to experience that feeling of freedom and adventure that I had dreamt about since I was a little kid. As hard as it was for me to trust myself and my bike, I knew I had to take those first steps in order to reach my ultimate goal. So I got on the bike and slowly made my way to the other side of the parking lot. It was one small step for mankind, but one big step for Helen kind.
Flash forward to me stuck on the sandy slope in the middle of Peru. My internal dialogue continued: “You say you want to ride this thing to Brazil? How do you think you are going to do that if you can’t even make it through this little patch of sand? You need to perfect as many different kinds of terrain as possible before the trip and if not now, when? You CAN do this.”
Galim(my riding partner/mentor) had just explained to me a few minutes before how to get through sand on my bike. Accelerate slowly to get some traction under the tires. Rock the steering wheel back and forth a little so as not to stick in one place. I turned the engine on, started accelerating and slowly but surely made my way over the sand to where Galim was waiting for me. I looked back in shock of what I had just accomplished. Although we took the same route, the trip back seemed significantly easier. Today I am one step closer to fulfilling my dreams than I was yesterday.