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Latin America Kavitha Dispatch

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Reunited and It Feels So Good...

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The Team - together at last!
After spending most of our time spread out visiting different regions and service groups in Peru and South America, the entire World Trek Team finally reunited in Sucre, Bolivia a couple days ago. Monica arrived in Sucre first and relayed which hostel she would be in through e-mail. After 3 straight days of bus rides from Peru, Shawn, Abeja, and I finally arrived in Sucre at 10 AM Sunday morning. We found the hostel and immediately went to room #12 to wake up Monica and Kevin, who had just arrived earlier that morning at 5AM. We all piled on the beds and laughed. After almost two months, it was so good to see the whole team together again!

So many adventures had happened and there were so many stories to tell. While Shawn was off in the Amazon or sand boarding off the coast, Monica was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. While Kevin was rafting and dancing the nights away in Cuzco, Abeja was falling in love. And me, I was hiking the deepest canyon in the world...

Peru definitely brought different experiences for us all, but this meeting was somehow different from the one's we'd had in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, and then at the beginning of our Peru stay. We had just completed the first semester of The Odyssey World Trek, the Latin America stage! Now, we had less than 2 weeks before we would be on our way to begin the second stage: Africa!

Woah... Africa. It seems so far away and different from the cultures we have become accustomed to in Latin America. Although we've gone this far over land and water, we still felt somewhat connected to our homes in the United States because we didn't really ever use a plane. To get to Africa, however, we're going to have to fly. (We tried for months to arrange for a freighter to take us, but none of them were swayed by our passionate pleas! So we're going to fly to Cape Town, South Africa. Do you forgive us?)

And now after almost five months of traveling through Latin America, we're all finally able to have conversations in Spanish. In Africa, what languages will we need to learn? I'm expecting my French will help, and English can probably get me pretty far. I'm not counting on my Nepalese to help much!

Thinking about all of this, we were all filled with excitement, curiosity, and I must admit a little fearů. Who knows what new adventures and challenges Africa will bring?

There is still so much to do before the Africa Stage can begin and the Latin America stage can end. We started off just recapping what the last five months of the Odyssey has been like. What have we learned? What worked well and what went wrong? How many of you have been following our trek since the beginning? What do you think were some of our best and worst moments?

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In five months we have traveled by land and by sea from San Francisco to Buenos Aires
Gosh, our time in Guatemala seems so far away. We were working with different Mayan groups, living with Mayan families, visiting ancient Mayan ruins... Kevin wasn't a part of our team yet, but we had Jamila! (Hi, Jamila!) And one of the most exciting parts of all our trips was when we webcasted a live interview with Nobel Peace Price Laureate Rigoberta Menchu. Remember the webcast? That was the first live webcast for all of us, including Rigoberta! Who knew technology could do such things?! It was so exciting to be able to connect live with schools around the world! (We'll have to do more of those, don't you think?)

Then, we had to say good-bye to Jamila as she returned to the L.A. classroom where her students were waiting for their favorite teacher. The Team seemed a bit empty, but not for long because Kevin soon came to join us! (Yay!) From Guatemala went through Central America very quickly, splitting up, interviewing our second Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Oscar Arias and visiting different countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua... Then, we met up again for what turned out to be a long stay in Panama, trying to figure out how to cross the roadless Darien Gap between Panama and Columbia. Oh, what a huge challenge the Darien Gap was! While Kevin and Abeja took the Caribbean coast, Monica, Shawn and I waited 11 long days on cargo boats and small Pacific towns with no phones, as our families and friends thought we had disappeared. We sure scared them! (Sorry...)

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Cool sign, but how did they know we were coming?
Then, on a whole new continent, we were lured in by the South American sounds and styles of Colombia and Ecuador- until we reached Peru and learned of a whole new ancient indigenous culture, the mighty Incas. And now, once again, we moving over land through new countries en route to Buenos Aries, Argentina! In Buenos Aries, we'll be meeting some important people who will share with us stories of their heroic efforts to achieve peace and justice after their country's difficult and violent history. Then, in just a couple days, (maybe exactly as you are reading this!) we'll be flying to a new continent on the other side of the world... Africa.

However, a lot stands in our way before we make it to Buenos Aires. We have to cross all of Bolivia and quite a bit of Argentina, too. And by the time we reach Buenos Aries, we will have spent an entire week on buses coming from Peru! Ugh... Night after night on buses is no fun, but thank goodness the whole team is doing it together!

We have a lot to talk about and a lot of time to do it in. Besides, traveling together is fun! We amuse ourselves singing old 80's pop songs and listening to Kevin's treasure of lines he can recite from old movies... I feel sorry for the other people that have to ride on the buses with us -- we sure laugh loud when we're together!


Shawn - Che Guevara - Giving Everything, Always, Until Victory
Kevin - Journey from the Eyes of a Jeep
Monica - Robbed, Again! But Hey, Isn't the World Beautiful...
Making a Difference - Save a tree, go napkin-free!

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