Tag Archives: thoughts

Pre-Trip Worries

5 Feb

My return to Guatemala is getting closer and closer. There are 47 days until our plane takes off. Each week we have a meeting to get together as a group and discuss things for the trip. I usually end up speaking at these meetings because it seems people believe things coming from someone their own age as opposed to a teacher and we want to get everyone excited.

47 days.

I’ve waited for this trip for so long and I’m so excited that it’s so close that I can barely sleep at night. I look through the pictures I look last year, reread my journal entries from the trip, and every part of me wants to be back there. Right now.

I anticipate seeing all of the friends I made last year, impressing them with my new Spanish skills, and seeing the bilingual secretary teacher whom I’ve kept in contact with and running up to her in excitement. I think about the market on Sunday and the yarn that I want to buy. When we go to Panajachel, I know exactly what I want to buy. I’m determined that this trip will be just as magical as the last one.

But what if it isn’t?

I hold the days that I spent in Guatemala so close to perfection that I’m afraid I’ve exaggerated in my head. Last year when I went, I had no expectations. All I had was a bunch of fears and a little bit of excitement. But this year, I know what to expect. We’re going to the same places we went last year. All of the people that I met last year will still be there. I’ve been waiting for this trip to come for so long that I’m worried that I’m going to let myself down, that it won’t be as wonderful as I’m expecting it to be in my head.

This time last year I was so afraid to go on this trip that I almost considered backing out. I was afraid to get on the airplane, afraid to try the new foods, afraid to be away from home, afraid to hike up the ruins, afraid to try to speak Spanish. This year, I don’t feel any of that. This year, my only fear is this. The fear that it won’t be the same, that I’m ruining something special by returning.

Has anyone else ever had these feelings about returning to a place that they loved? Is this just nerves talking? Is this normal?

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Why riding elephants has been crossed off my bucket list

22 Dec

When I first began this site and created an official bucket list, riding elephants in Thailand was one of the first things I put on there. The idea had come to my attention was I was researching summer travel trips and found one that involved community service in Thailand and ended with an elephant ride. Cool, right? Even though I’m terrified of heights and falling, there is just something so majestic about the idea of riding an elephant that I immediately latched on to the idea, even after that particular trip was a no-go.

Then I read this article.

I have no idea how I thought they got elephants to be so docile and let humans on them. After all, these are the same animals that we see charging through the jungle on Animal Planet so it’s not exactly in their normal behavior to let humans crawl all over them and meander slowly along the beach. I guess I just never gave thought as to the HOW, just the “oh, cool!” factor.

It turns out that the process of turning an elephant into a docile animal is quite cruel and vicious. It involves a lot of beating and torture until they finally learn to obey a human. As someone who cannot stand to see any animal hit at all and who visibly flinched in the theater every time the elephant in Water for Elephants was hurt, this is beyond horrifying. I won’t go in to any more details because I think the author of the article says it better than I ever could but I definitely suggest reading the article, along with all of the comments. Very interesting and eye-opening discussion.

I refuse to be a part of any type of animal abuse. I will not give my money to another tourist trap where elephants are hurt. That is why I have changed “ride an elephant in Thailand” to “volunteer with elephants in Thailand”. I encourage you to do the same.