First Time Trabelin’ South & What It Can Do to a Girl

January 1st, 2017

Water fountains aren’t a thing in Mexico, and for whatever reason I have a feeling they won’t be in Rio either. The realización de fuente de agua has been only the most recent surprise on my way down to Rio, but it’s sure the one I’m noticing the most right now.

I’ve been down in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico for the past week. Interestingly enough, this year my usual decompression with tons of shrimp and sunscreen was not very relaxing—and it wasn’t just this reading and paper for this class that caused it! I’ve been thrilled for this experience since I camped outside Erika’s/Dr. Larkin’s (What’s the protocol for addressing really cool professors that you want to be your friend?) door to figure out if I could tag along as a freshman on the block. Most folks I’ve talked to about it had been too…until I got to Mexico. For whatever reason, the seasoned travel vets who have frequented Mazatlán and other corners of the world for decades were all excited for me, but consistently had very slight apprehension that I couldn’t stop picking up on. After being very lovingly engulfed by good-intentioned concern for a week, I admittedly couldn’t take it anymore. The relentless assumptions that I couldn’t figure out how to navigate airports and that bug-eyed question I’ve come to detest pushed me over the edge—Are you ever going to be alone? I would immediately answer with a Never! to ease the fear off their faces, but this nagged me. When did the whole world become a warzone?

After saying goodbye to my dad in the Mazatlán airport, I strutted into the nearest bathroom and cried like a baby. I was the only one in that airport terminal besides the bathroom cleaning lady and the guy working the bar. I never had any reservations about going to Rio, not one, but I think the reality of how I’m not a kid anymore hit me like a freight train. I was flying down to Rio. Alone. That week of worry rubbed off on me and my own fear set it. I was shaken in my self-confidence to do what I not only planned on doing, but wanted to do with my life. Now that I’m on my plane from Mazatlán to Sao Paulo after a plane delay and a tight connection to make in a foreign airport, I know I’m going to be just fine. I guess I just didn’t think so then. This is my first solo trip to a new place—excluding the rest of the group—and my first test to see if I could handle my future career goals. I want to be an international crises-based physician. That will, hopefully, include a lot of traveling to anywhere and everywhere. An unforeseen drawback, however, would also be being potentially disconnected to my loved ones for unknown periods of time. I was so gung-ho about a life of *Side note—I’m about to get food and water for the first time in a while. The flight attendants rolled by with their little carts and my heart skipped a beat!* constant travel until I had reasons to not want to leave. My loved ones are beginning to mean much more to me as I’m growing up. I know the world is the most connected and accessible it’s ever been, but what will that do to a future family? How do you celebrate holidays in countries without the ones you grew up with? What will too much time with my butt glued to an airplane seat do to my janky back? And will I ever get over always getting sick when I travel (as I sniffle from my latest round of the travel bug)? I guess I’ll find out in time.

I’m on my flight from Mexico City to Sao Paulo. I’m pretty sure I’m about seven or eight hours into it, but I have no idea what time it really is. While I was sleeping, we flew over the Pacific and into South America through Peru. I had the geographical relation and location of Brazil and Rio so wrong! It has been a while since I have flown to a place this far away. I had forgotten how big the world is.

The grub is a-comin’! I think we can even get coffee with it? What a world this is.

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