One year since I was in Costa Rica. One year since I was in Kenya. One day before I go to Belize. How stupid I was to think I was ready to be back in this country for more than half a year.
I just posted the following on facebook:
Hace un año, yo estuve en Costa Rica.
Mbili miaka iliyopita, nilisafiri Kenya na Tanzania yetu.
And now, I am about to embark on a new journey, this time to Belize. I am so grateful to the places I have been, the people I have met, and the many beautiful heartbreaks that still hurt and fill my life with joy. And I am grateful for the adventures yet to come.
As I prepare to go to Belize I keep thinking about Costa Rica and all the other places I’ve been. I am phenomenally lucky to have had these opportunities, and they make up such a huge part of who I am that I realize I have no idea what I would be like if a little piece of my heart hadn’t been left behind in Kimana, in Moyo Hill, in Yang Shu’s village, in Tirimbina, in San José. The world is a frighteningly vast place with more wonders than I will ever grasp, and more problems than we will ever solve.
Winter break was so heartwarming to be with family again, and also a little stressful, but I think that’s the dynamic for most college students. I truly love my family and it fills me up to be together, but it’s also a reminder that after four years, a huge monetary investment, incredible adventures, and an impressive accumulation of knowledge and experience, I still don’t know what I’m doing after I graduate, and that’s kind of scary. I finally have a few applications in and a few possibilities, but I don’t think I’ve seen my dream job yet or even know what that would be. Every day I repeat to myself that I should spend a few years the states and then find a way back to East Africa or down to South America, but I’m starting to worry that after three years of in and out of the country, I won’t be satisfied staying here. Then the other side of me says that maybe being in one place for more than four months and having a meaningful field job might actually feel amazing. We’ll see what happens.
We read an incredible book for our preparations for Belize. It’s called Jaguar: One Man’s Struggle to Establish the World’s First Jaguar Preserve by Alan Rabinowitz. It’s an intimate look at an ambitious (and honestly fairly dangerous) research project and the life of a field researcher. It also deals with the frustration and philosophy of conservation—Is there a way to conduct research that does not negatively impact the animals you are trying to protect? How do you keep going when so many people do not understand the value of science or conservation? How do you balance the needs of people and the needs of animals, and does one always have to lose? By in large, we no longer live in Rabinowitz’ age when young researchers naively blundered into the wilderness and conjured out science with raw willpower, but it’s an addictively exciting narrative. I can’t help but read it and think, “I want to do cool things like that some day!” With any luck, I know I will.
Sorry about the short post, but I have to finish packing. I’m anticipating an incredible post upon my return.