January 28, 2012 - 8:00 PM
Everything that I was once familiar with has been rapidly coming back into my life. It's been great to catch up with long lost friends and indulge on the great Eugene restaurants I have missed. The amazing unique Eugene food was one of the things I missed the most while away. Even while tasting the amazing food in South America, I couldn't get the cravings away from me. I swear Eugene has the best Thai food and sushi in all of the United States. Not only do they have amazing ethnic restaurants, but there is also a variety of strange food you can only find in Eugene. I have now been to Off the Waffle seven times since I have moved back this term. Off the Waffle is known for their crazy toppings that are on their buttery waffles. I always get The Goat in Headlights, which is a waffle with two eggs, avocado, and goat cheese. Another favorite of mine is The Banana Split, which has ice cream, bananas, whip cream, and almonds on top of a waffle. Although the combinations may sound strange, I urge you to try it before making judgments. I could travel all around the world, but I am convinced I will not find anything quite as remarkable as Off the Waffle.
Besides indulging in food, I have been spending a lot of time trying to teach myself a lot of the Spanish I never learned. I am currently in three upper division Spanish courses and I realizing how unprepared I really am. This is the first time I have taken a Spanish course in college. Although I can understand and speak Spanish pretty well, it's very difficult for me to read and write it. I also don't know all the tenses that there are in Spanish. Whenever I have free time I try to practice the technical parts of Spanish. If I continue to struggle I will have to start going into my professors' office hours and get some more individual help from them. All my instructors have been very patient and helpful with me and everyone in the class. I think I will learn a lot this term, but it will just take a lot of work and self motivation.
January 8, 2012 - 6:00 PM
I am finally reunited with the beloved Eugene and it definitely feels good to be back. I moved down yesterday morning to my beautiful new house. Last year I was living in a small apartment so I am really excited to have more space this year. The weather is beautiful right now. I grew up in Oregon so I was actually missing the crisp coldness while in 95 degree South America. I am very excited to see the beautiful leaves still lingering around.
The return home has been pretty hectic and it's been really difficult for me to get on a normal sleep schedule. As chaotic as it is only having a week to get adjusted for school, I definitely don't regret staying in Bolivia for as long as I could. It has been wonderful returning to Eugene and being reunited with my friends. It is interesting how going away and returning can show you who your true friends are. I feel really blessed for some of the ones I have and I am now looking more forward to the rest of this year.
Due to no internet in Bolivia I have finally just had the chance to register for winter classes a few days ago. Unfortunately, most of the ones I want are full so I am on the waiting list for half of my courses. I plan to take three upper division Spanish courses to help improve and keep the skills I already have. If I have time, I hope to even double major in Spanish here at University of Oregon.
January 5, 2012 - 9:00 PM
My journey to Santa Cruz was quit the adventure, but I suppose I wouldn't want to leave the continent any other way. I planned to take collectivos for the whole 6 hour route, which are shared taxis. I had the list of the cities I needed to go to, but unfortunately I lost it after being crammed in the first taxi. The driver really wanted to make as much profit as he could, so he allowed 10 people to fit in this Subaru taxi. I ended up being smashed against the side window in the trunk for an hour and a half. I was unsure where my next destinations were supposed to be so I just continued to ask the rest of the way. It was more difficult than I was expecting because it was New Years and I was continually told that I wouldn't find any collectivos because all of the drivers were "hung over from last night". There were a few moments of panic, but I ended up getting to the airport with plenty of time.
I am now back home in Portland, Oregon. The return home has been incredibly strange. It is all very surreal. I have been warned from prior classes that one can experience cultural shock when returning home to their own culture. I definitely feel more shock now than I ever did while in South America. A lot of things are different in my life now then when I left, but yet at the same time everything feels the same. I have been gone for five months and it feels like it has only been a day.
It has been wonderful seeing my family and friends, but I have definitely left my heart traveling in South America. I feel a sadness lingering over me and all I want to do is return. I think as time goes on and I move to Eugene I will get more into the swing of things and excited to be back. Don't get me wrong, it really is nice to be home; however, it doesn't beat the rush you get while down south.
January 1, 2012 - 2:00 PM
This is the first time I have spent my winter holidays away from home. Christmas, Hanukah, and New Years were all celebrated here at the park. I traditionally celebrate Christmas every year with my family in Oregon. That means large family get together, great food, gifts, and traditional music. Although I missed being home, it was a lot of fun spending Christmas differently. It definitely didn't feel like Christmas because of the heat and lack of family; however, nonetheless it was lovely and spent with people I now consider family. The park planned a large dinner together that everyone helped make. It was delicious and there was even dancing following it. We also even played Secret Santa where majority of the gifts were either alcohol or some type of sweet.
Last night the park rented out a local restaurant where we all celebrated the New Year. Honestly, it the best New Years I have ever experienced. It was great conversation with a delicious feast and after we all headed to a local club and danced late into the night.
Today I am now headed to Santa Cruz where I will be taking my flight home. I am really happy that I have spent the last part of this amazing trip here at this animal refugee. Although, It has also been sad to see the damage humans could do to innocent animals, but parks like these gives me hope for the future. More education and awareness needs to be taught because people continue to think they can make these animals into pets when in reality they only belong in the wild. It's nice to see how many people are passionate and dedicated to allowing these animals to live the life that was once taken away from them. I hope to one day come back and work with one of the pumas or bears here at the park.