For you wonderful souls who’ve been awaiting updates on my travel journey, I’ve finally preserved some special time to share what’s been going on in recent weeks (I also went on a really cool writer’s retreat this past weekend in the Argentinian countryside and couldn’t avoid writing this any longer).
So, alas, here we are – enjoyyy.
Month five of Remote Year brought me to Córdoba, Argentina just as the country entered its brisk winter season. With temperatures in the low 50’s, dreary streets filled with stray dog sh*t, and locals that initially struck me as unwelcoming, I was ready for May to be over before giving the city a fair chance.
Family and friends from home often envision my year abroad as a blissful fantasy where “normal” life problems are put on pause. They think my days are filled with adventure sports, dining at top-rated Trip Advisor restaurants, and snapping perfect Instagram photos – and while some days do feel like I’m in a fantasy world, so many days are not. Our Remote Year program leaders warned us that the extreme elation we had been feeling since January would soon turn into a mid-year reality check for most of the group, leaving us questioning why we were doing this, if we were truly fulfilling our purpose, and if we even really knew what our purpose was.
It’s hard to put into real words the things I was feeling last month. More often than not I felt lonely, overly anxious, and a deep sadness where I could’ve burst into tears at any second. For me, it had little to do with questioning my life purpose and more to do with a dark period of growth and detachment I needed to finally face. I didn’t fully blame Córdoba for my melancholy spirit, but the gloom of the city couldn’t have matched my mood any better. Here’s what played a bigger part: one of my best friends from home who began Remote Year with me headed back to the U.S. at the end of April on very short notice; I had stopped receiving frequent check-in calls from home and felt forgotten about; and a confusing 5-year relationship-turned-friendship that I had held onto by its very last strings finally went sour. I became fragile. The girl who was always so strong and constantly holding it together for everyone around her was crumbling.
If there’s one thing I’ve mastered, it’s the art of distracting myself on more emotional days by drowning myself in work – so it was perfect when I was hit with a heavy project load for my job last month. I enjoyed the stress of it. It hushed all of the negative noise going on in my conscious mind. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t…and many afternoons I’d leave our coworking space to go sit in my cold apartment bedroom and let the depression take over. My mind would spin in nonstop circles and it consumed every ounce of my energy, leaving me appetite-less and antisocial.
After about three weeks of this, I decided I couldn’t waste any more of my precious time in this weird, unhappy head space. I’m entirely too grateful and humbled by the opportunities given to me this year, who was I to self-sabotage these moments that I’ll never get back? I began to slowly pull myself out of the funk I had been in – daily morning meditations and writing down positive affirmations were my saving grace. Oh, and finally letting go.
For our last weekend in Córdoba, about 20 of us went on a one-night camping trip in the hills to enjoy nature, cook up an authentic asado, and simply recharge. We stopped about midway through the mountainous ride to our cabin for a photo-op from the perfect vantage point overlooking the vast, cascading valleys. While perched on the edge of the mountain taking it all in, the universe suddenly spoke to me…God spoke to me. I was reassured that I’d be okay. For the ten minutes spent admiring the deep, low valleys in front of us, I was reminded to appreciate my own lows. And in this calm moment, a new energy entered me as I shed all of the heaviness that had been exhausting my mind and body. I left it all right there on that mountainside, and I’d never felt so free.
I hit an unexpected spiritual breakthrough during our month in Cordoba, and on the day we took a 10-hour bus ride to our next city, Buenos Aires, I let go of all the anchors that were holding me hostage for year and years.
I learned to quiet my stubborn ego, which was too prideful to let my emotions take over, and two important notes were added my list of positive affirmations — 1.) Take all the time you need to just feel, but be weary of energy you allow to consume you; 2.) Prioritize self-love, self-healing, and be open to rediscovering you and your happiness. Your future self will thank you endlessly.
Now! To recap the memorable moments + places I did experience in May (it wasn’t all shitty), I have some photo galleries to share:
Horseback riding in the Sierras
A day at ‘Cabezas de Tormenta‘ (a local creative co-living house)
Favorite Cordoba cafe ‘Almacen de Meriendas‘
A visit to Proyecto Caraya Monkey Sanctuary
Some gorgeous sunset shots from our camping trip