In 2009, I took a year off of work to live and travel in South America. Friends and family often asked me “why?” Why would you do that? To be honest, I didn’t have a great answer. I felt trapped in a job that wasn’t providing the adventure or creative outlet that I needed, and traveling felt right.
It’s silly, but I thought that I was unique for listening to my heart and throwing caution to the wind by traveling in South America. Yeeaa, turns out I wasn’t alone. There were numerous men and women I met traveling who were experiencing the same sense of dissatisfaction with their job and life in general. They all needed the adventure, experiences, and growth as much as I did.
After arriving, my first goal was to learn Spanish as fast as possible. I saw the language as a barrier, and I needed to learn Spanish so that I could have meaningful interactions with the locals. The faster I could learn Spanish, the better photographs I could take. Everyday I would practice my horrible Spanish on the poor locals, and I often got weird looks (especially in the beginning). Eventually my Spanish did become passable after 5 to 6 months, but it was some work.
I also worked hard to climb as many mountains as possible in the Cordillera Blanca range. Anytime I wasn’t learning or practicing Spanish, I spent time planning my next mountain adventure. Mountains are beautiful to photograph and dangerous – the quintessential adventure.
And throughout it all, I took photos. Some days I was frustrated with my ridiculously heavy camera, and other days I marveled at how easily it was to capture what I was seeing. Regardless, it was all beautiful and new to me. I loved it. I can’t wait to go back.