The following is the first post in a series by UU Young Adult Ashley Lacy, who has embarked on an extended voyage through South America of self-discovery and service. You can follow Lacy's story on her blog: risksomething.blogspot.com–Ed. It was 2005. Four of us were sitting in a small hotel in Southern Mexico getting ready for the day and I was mesmerized by the enormous backpack that one guy was unpacking to find his sandals. This guy was seeing the world, at least Latin America, with six months of travel before him. I was living in Mexico and taking weekend trips with a small pack, but I couldn’t fathom putting my entire world in a backpack and taking off for months like a nomad! I thought it was a crazy idea... but something about the idea stuck. Looking back, was it really such a crazy idea? On February 14, 2012 I arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This city is the first stop on my 6-month adventure throughout South America. I will backpack through ten countries visiting multiple sites and cities in each country, including Machu Picchu, the Galapagos, Angel Falls and the Amazon. I also plan to volunteer with a service organization for a few weeks to a month and have worked closely with the Unitarian Universalist Association Spirituality and Service of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries in determining which one. When I tell my friends and family about my intentions they react with everything from fear to jealousy to delight. Some are scared for my safety and others remark how they wish they had done something similar at my age. There are many reasons why I want to do this: my love for travel, the desire to add Portuguese to my fluency in Spanish, the time to reflect on career direction, and the chance to do something a little crazy; but mostly it’s because I want the experience and I have the opportunity. However difficult it may be to save up or plan for a trip, the biggest deterrent is daily life. For most of us it takes great strength and a certain determination to pull off even a small adventure because it means uprooting everything you know and have come to love. I had a good job, an apartment, a great group of friends, a church community, an exercise class, and a Monday-morning coffee date. But, I gave that up to take a risk on an experience, not knowing how it will end... In six months I should be able to vouch for whether or not the experience was well worth it. I can already guarantee one thing: I won’t be sitting in the same routine regretting that I didn’t take a chance on my crazy idea. You shouldn’t either.
Ashley Lacy is a Unitarian Universalist Young Adult traveling through South America.