Six months ago to this day I got on a plane from Chicago and headed to Sao Paulo. 7 flights later, I had gone to Costa Rica (with connections in Lima and Miami), back to Sao Paulo, bussed it to Ubatuba and back, and finally arrived in Salvador.
The past half of a year has been a whirlwind of adventure, learning how to travel on my own in Costa Rica and Brazil. I feel ten times more confident in my abilities to plan trips, find the right busses (and in some cases, the wrong ones), fix things when they go wrong (miscommunications, busses that never come), and carry out a research project from start to finish.
I learned how to make rice and beans (not the ones that come out of a can), taught some Brazilians to put milk in their scrambled eggs to make them fluffy, learned how to sit on the frame of the bike while someone else pedaled for half an hour, and was taught how to catch a sleeping sea turtle.
I learned that experience is the best teacher, public health is an amazing but very difficult thing to put into practice, and how to walk quickly in a crowded sidewalk. I made some great friends, both Brazilian and American- people who shared their lives with me so that they became intertwined with mine.
I’m taking these things back to Madison, to St. Paul, and anywhere else I may go in the future. I am not sad to be leaving- not yet, anyways. I’m happy to be going home, where I can flush toilet paper down the toilet, snuggle with my dogs, run to Picnic Point, move into my new house with Chloe and Amanda and decorate my door-less room. Throughout this journey I never thought I’d get this homesick, but I guess I’m ready to go home.