TRAVEL SAVED MY LIFE.
Travel and I go way back. Like middle school way back. There are several ways that travel has changed me for the better, but the most specific experience was one my very first mission trip. The transformation was so vast that I remember exactly the moment when something in me changed, I know exactly where I was standing and exactly what I was doing. I remember stopping dead in my tracks and tears falling out of eyes while my heart literally was falling in love. But it was not a conventional love, it was a love for travel humanitarianism.
I was thirteen years old when I did my first humanitarian work and that was also the year that the wanderlust bug bit me. My youth group at church was leading a mission trip to Costa Rica with the goal of rebuilding the inside of the parsonage, and while I had really had no idea how much work it would involve or what the living conditions were like, I was all in.
So I raised money for the trip by selling homemade plated food from the church to friends and family, packed my bags, boarded a plane and took off for a foreign country.
When we arrived and first stepped out of the San Jose airport the heat and humidity were almost overwhelming. I can still feel the heaviness of the air on my face whenever I close my eyes, it is something I will never forget. Little did I know was that our journey had just begun and the real adventure was about to start.
From the airport we had an eight hour bus ride to the small village of Palmar Norte where the church was located. Now, this may not seem that terrible but when you consider us going up and over mountains, getting stuck behind herds of cattle and thought traffic jams that would make New York City look easy, it was just a bit overwhelming.
When we finally arrived everyone had a thick film of sweat on the skin, bags under their eyes, and longed for a soft bed. But instead we were greeted with a brief hello and a hard floor where we were unroll our sleeping bags and rest for the night. Honestly, I hardly even remember falling asleep from pure exhaustion, but I do remember thinking to myself, “what have I gotten myself into??”.
That was the first step of my travel transformation and the beginning of the rest of my life. I will forever be grateful to this mission trip as it literally saved me and made me who I am today – a fun loving, caring and compassionate traveler who is always thirsting for the next adventure!