Daily Archives: July 7, 2013

Estoy aquí.

¡Buenas Tardes!

Normally I will most likely not update my blog twice in one day, but since it is the day of arrival, I thought I would let everyone know that I am safe. I appreciate all prayers I received on the way down. My nerves left as quickly as they came. Once I got to my gate at the airport, I was distracted by writing my first blog. And then, of course, I love taking off in airplanes so that was fun. We were then given movies to watch. One of the best things, aside from prayer (if you believe in God, that is), is distractions when you are nervous. The end of the flight was beautiful. You could see the volcanoes!

The view flying in!

The view flying in!

I don’t really feel nervous anymore, like I said. It wore off and I impressed myself at the Guatemala City airport when I found out that barely any employees spoke English. I’ve been nervous about my VISA all day because I’ve been told and have read that Guatemala doesn’t require a VISA for 90 days (But I will be here longer than that- in which case I will have to leave the country or apply for an extended VISA), but last night when I checked in for my flight, it said I DID need a VISA. (I don’t, but this made me doubt myself). The lady asked me (in spanish) how long I would be here for. To me, although maybe it was just me assuming the worst again, I thought she was looking at me like I was suspicious. So I said “Estoy en Guatemala por seis meses, pero voy a viajar al Mexico despues de noventa dias.” And I didn’t stutter. After this, I was quickly in the hands of Máximo Nivel’s team members (who are super nice by the way) and got a lot of my questions answered (like if I brought too much luggage or not- He said I didn’t bring a lot for someone staying 6 months. Yay!) and then I felt as I do on any comfortable trip I take: Happy and excited.

Although, I quickly found out that my host family SPEAKS NO ENGLISH! Nada. They know “dinner” and that’s about it. This will be a lot harder than I thought! It’s a little intimidating to not be able to communicate at all, but at least they seem very nice. It’s definitely going to be challenging not being able to use English with them. However, the team members at Máximo Nivel speak English and I got placed at a house only a block away from there! How blessed am I? At the home stay there is a mom and dad, two kids and some other volunteers (They will only be there a few weeks though and I have my own room with 3 choices of twin beds. I also can choose to move rooms once the other volunteers leave if I like- How I understood all that, I don’t know! But that’s what I interpreted!). You have to put your toilet paper in the trashcan and not the toilet (Hey, it’s like a trip to Camp at Lake Sunset in NY!). The house is really cute, but no AC! AHHhhhh. At least I have 70’s weather and not 90’s. :) Oh, and you won’t believe the view I get from their roof. I wish I had a hammock hanger to put up there! Pics to come later.

I do also want to touch on more of what brought me to the decision to take this trip and write this blog, but I don’t want to do an overwhelming amount of posts in one day. I know everyone has their lives to attend to. So I will talk more about that in a later post.

In a nutshell, I’m safe. My evil “wait turn around now go home” nerves are gone. I am still going to miss people, but I feel comfortable enough to not worry for the moment. Besides, I’ve always had a thing for 7’s and I left on the 7th. I think that must mean it’s the start of an excellent adventure. Just have to get through the first few weeks of being uncomfortable! I am meeting a girl I rode in with hopefully soon, but since phones aren’t set up yet- I won’t know until she gets here.

¡Que tengas un buen dia!

Adios y vaya con Dios. Yeah, I’m leaving GA.

My apologies in advance that my first post will probably be a long read…

Well. I am here at the airport. Disgustingly early. Disgustingly. There are 3 other people at the gate. I arrived at my gate 2 hours before my flight leaves. Disgusting. This is unlike me. I usually enjoy cutting it close so that I can walk through security and pop right onto my plane seat. Perhaps this is a good example of showing how extremely nervous I am.

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to say on my first post. Forgive me in advance for any posts that may seem a bit all over the place or if I ramble too much or leave out too much info. This is my first time that I’ve ever blogged and I am hardly a writer, but I wanted to be able to document everything I possibly could so that I could be an example to others and so they could get an idea of what it’s like to travel long distances for long periods of time completely and totally alone.

But up until I stood in line at the security checkpoint, this entire past month, I haven’t been nervous at all.

I’m going to Guatemala for 6 months to volunteer and learn Spanish, for those of you who don’t know (but I’m sure you all do). This is my second time ever leaving the country; the first time was with my high school class to Costa Rica for a week with teachers and all my classmates and friends. Easy, eh? This is my second time. And my first time away from home ever. EVER. (Ok, so I was “away from home” at Berry College technically, but come on- It was college and I was an hour and a half away from mommy and daddy.)

A lot of you are proud of me today, but a lot of you have traveled many times and just think that this is exciting and no big deal. But it IS a big deal for me. A huge one. I’m a baby. I know a lot of you that think I am such a brave girl, but that’s just not true. Sure, I suppose I’m “brave” for going on this adventure, but the truth is.. I’m not. I’m scared out of my pants. As I stood in line for security, I nearly called my mom and said “WAIT!! I don’t wanna go I don’t wanna go I don’t wanna go” and felt like going home and curling into a ball in the comfort of my darling bed.

What I want to do in this post is give my readers some background about me. Why? Because… Otherwise you wouldn’t understand what a feat this is for me. I want to inspire other scaredy-pusses like me to do great things and overcome their fears. And I couldn’t do that without a little background to beat down all those people that think I’m brave.

I’m not. I am a human. I have fears like everyone else. Some people don’t seem to have any, but I know a lot of people that have even more than me. It’s a sickness. Fear is the worst thing that exists, in my opinion. It stops us from doing things that are absolutely incredible. Here’s who I am (or “was,” depending on how you look at it.):

My name is Lizzie. I grew up in grand-ol’-fancy-pants-suburbian Marietta, GA. I’ve lived in the same sheltered house my whole life. Nothing terribly bad has really ever happened to me… But nothing terribly amazingly good either. Because I’m sheltered. But also because I have fears of doing almost anything. And I’ve never. ever. EVER. been able to do ANYTHING without my friends. I love you guys so dearly and you guys are my world, but that’s just not healthy to NOT be able to do ANYTHING comfortably without you.

Speaking of awesome friends, I miss you all already. And I have to give a few shout-outs in this post (I’ll be trying to do more of these as I go along because I like people to know how much I absolutely ADORE them) because I wouldn’t be here with this blog without them:

David Gravelin– This is the best name I could ever have for my blog. I am a crazy huggy person. I used to get made fun of in high school because I tried to hug everyone. It took me a long time to get over that and now I am finally embracing it and just making people deal with my hugs! HUGS FOR ENERGY. Without David, I never would have came up with this name for my blog. And I absolutely love it. I also have to thank him for being my kind of travel mentor recently. But I’ll touch on that in another post when it is more relevant to the content of what I’m discussing.
Ashley Dunn– Here’s a good example of what my blog is going to be all about. People are so awesome. Ashley was my roommate for just a summer at Berry. At the time, I was really too caught up with my boyfriend to get to know her well. I haven’t seen her since Berry like 5 years ago, but yet when she saw my cries for help on Facebook about being able to build the stupid .css code for this website, she jumped in and helped me for nearly 10 hours straight! How sweet is that?
Mike Waters– I hate him right now for referring me to wordpress and this god-forsaken css code has been a nightmare, but I know he referred me to something quality and I know in the long run I’m going to end up very happy that he lead me to this decision. I am also thankful for him giving me a discount through his webhost.

Anyways, back to my history…

I quit gymnastics when I was little because my friends quit. I joined band because all my friends were in band. I never got involved in anything with school because I was afraid of trying something new. My dad always criticized me for not getting a real job in high school and blamed it on laziness. Truth is, I was scared. I was scared of showing up in a fugly mini-van and how dumb that would look and I was scared of all the strangers I would have to talk to and I was scared of messing up. I always loved NY, but it took me until last year at 23 years old to finally go spend a measly 2 months there with my darling family because it was DIFFERENT and away from home. I broke up with my high school sweetheart because my friends told me to.

Now granted, there were some other reasons involved for these things aside from my friends telling me to, but that was always a huge driving factor. I never traveled much, even though I always thought it sounded fun, because my friends wouldn’t go. (Or couldn’t, for financial reasons. Save your money, kids!). Still, I think it’s way more fun to go with a friend, obviously, but not having any to go with shouldn’t stop me. You actually learn way more traveling by yourself. I’ve learned so much in the past year since I started Couch Surfing and met so many great people. More on that, though, in another post.

What else? I had to give up so much of my comfortable life to do this. I had to give up my traditional annual trip to New York to visit my darling 94 year old Grammie and the rest of my amazing family. I had to quit all my housekeeping jobs. Sure I don’t like to clean, but I love my little families and I’m perfectly comfortable there. I had to give up a potential management job, a potential role in Chicago, and being potentially displayed in a gallery in Charleston (where I so very much desire to move). I had to give up my cousins wedding in September (Sorry, Michael!!!!) and this is the first of my cousins to get married! But I couldn’t stay here and go to these things because I am learning that you can’t wait around forever on anyone else. It is seeming to me that neither the Chicago thing or the gallery thing was even going to happen! One of my jobs didn’t need me anymore anyways, and who knows when that management job is actually going to start. So really, if I had let those things that seem so great defeat me, I may be staying at home with the same old life I’ve always had. I can’t waste my life waiting on things to happen to me. I have to learn to make things happen.

So here I am. I hope you will follow my blog and be inspired to make your own big decisions. I still don’t feel like I’m giving you enough background on my fears of doing things alone or expressing how fearful of a person I really am, but I hope you get it. If you’re afraid of things, hey guess what- me too! And I’m doing this. I signed up and paid for my trip before I could chicken my way out of it. And now, I’m at the airport getting ready for a trip of a lifetime.

And I want to cry. See you on the other side.

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