April 20, 2011

Since we last spoke

Exactly one year ago, 4:15 pm, April 20th 2010, I turned in my last final exam and finished my college “career”. The 365.25 days since then have been the best 365.25 days in my life.

Some things I learned this year:

  • When you do fun and exciting things you meet fun and exciting people, which there are a lot of. 
  • There is no such thing as luck, but being open to any opportunity that crosses your path, combined with walking down the right paths, makes you feel like paying the lotto.
  • Pushing your body to do difficult things makes you stronger both mentally and physically, and gives you a deeper understanding of your body and what it can do.

Since my last blogamajig a lot has happened. I apologize for not sharing my experiences as much as I had planned. Here is a quick summary of some of the major things I've done since my crash, which seems like years ago.

From S. Carolina I pedaled down to northern Florida, couch surfing at some cool places along the way. I then spent a lot of time working on farms. First was Green Flamingo Organics, where I spent two weeks doing such things as slaughtering chickens, picking vegetables, skinning gators, and eating ramen. Then I spent a week on a cute little herb farm called Maggie's Herb Farm, and from there I met up with a friend from Green Flamingo and biked down to the tip of Florida together to work at Bee Heaven Farm. I spent a month there in a real bed (in a barn) with all the amenities and unlimited food from BJ's. While I was there I spoke a lot of spanish, and kind of felt like an illegal immigrant. I also got to explore the Everglades, which is a place I promise to return to.

After that I biked down to Key West, which was quite beautiful, and looks sweet on my map. I met my family there during “the holidays” and got to catch up with them and live in some serious luxury for the first time in a while. Luxury is overrated and overpriced, (but always appreciated *I refuse to use an emoticon*). From there I back tracked, good thing the wind didn't change directions also. I stopped at Bee Heaven Farm again for New Years, where I taught my 50 year old Guatemalan friend how to play beer pong. I woke up the next morning feeling a step down from so-so, took a large handful of nuts and biked 87 miles to Boca Raton for the next leg of the trip.

In Boca I met up with my friend JJ “The Hunger” Frasca, and together we biked to New Orleans. It was a huge adjustment, biking with a second person, but it made it like a whole new trip. We had some great times and met some great people, and pushed ourselves to extremes. We slept in a tent in freezing temperatures, biked nearly every day for two weeks, and ate more than three normal people combined. Each. Epic is the best word I can think of.

We rolled into New Orleans together in mid January, then JJ was forced to return to the lulls of academia, and I got settled into a new city. I stayed in the spacious laundry room of my good friend Petra, and got to know her awesome group of friends. New Orleans really is an amazing city, and Mardi Gras is worth losing your job for. Go, see it, live it, it's worth it. Maybe I'll expand on all the coolness of Mardi Gras and NOLA in general later, but based on my current rate of blogamajigs I doubt it, and you could probably read some awesome descriptions of it a million different places.

After a couple of weeks of partying and all that, I began to get involved and employed with Bayou Rebirth, and Common Ground Relief. My job is to lead groups of volunteers in educational plantings of native wetland grass and tree species, among other things. I've been loving working outside all the time, and getting out in some really cool places. Yesterday I drove down to the very tip of the Mississippi river, took a hour long speedboat ride down into the delta, then transferred to a fan boat to get to where river water and gulf water are separated by only a few hundred feet of sand. Here sediment accumulation is actually happening and we are helping it by planting Spartina altinaflora grass plugs into gulfsaver bags.

About a month ago I moved into the Common Ground Relief volunteer house in the lower 9th ward where I'm living and working with other long term volunteers working to rebuild people's homes which were lost during Katrina. Every day I'm not working with the wetlands I'm hanging drywall, or laying tiles or something like that.

I plan on staying here for another month and then I fly from New Orleans to Rome, where I'll start a new part of my trip. Although at this point, and actually for quite some time now, I don't feel like I'm on a trip, away from “real life”. This is my life, and yeah, its awesome. Join me.