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Pictures courtesy of Vivian Trinh, Jan Ferrer, Edmund Fong, and yours truly.

 
Press play. And then start reading.
 
 

“People don’t take trips . . . trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

 

You’re going to miss settling down in a new city and waiting for our homestay assignments, a brief respite before 2 very memorable days.

 

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You’re going to miss the walking tour around a pleasant little town, and the lazy afternoon drinking iced coffee and searching for bottled water.

 

 

You’re going to miss enjoying a private dinner at your homestay before dressing up for the first time on the trip, hearing the first signs of thunder in the distance while walking through the ensuing rainstorm in your nice clothes, jumping over makeshift rivers in the street while looking for our intended venue, celebrating surviving the storm over (once again) cheap cigars and bottles of rum, the impromptu salsa lesson to live music, and the late meandering in the city park as mating dogs prance about you without a care in the world.

 

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You’re going to miss getting up way too early to take an hour hike into a national park, stopping to look at the same bird 10 times as you struggle (so real) to even realize that you just made a terrible mistake and you might be doing this hike completely hungover.

 

 

You’re going to miss coming upon a natural spring grove from where you can take another dive in, wading silently into a bat cave but ruining the moment by doing your best Batman impression, and then climbing random rocks to prove your worth as a human monkey.

 

Jump from here, no big deal.

 

You’re going to miss (the possibility of) taking a crap in the woods when nobody’s looking, and ignoring all the mosquitoes for the next hour as you hike back to civilization.

 

 

You’re going to miss coming upon a unspoiled, barely touched stretch of white sanded beach, finding a strand of hair as long as your arm in your food, participating in an intense game of competitive volleyball with other travelers, finally getting that lazy tan, and the relaxing dip in the Caribbean sea while talking about life, travel, and the future.

 

 

You’re going to miss watching another sunset over quiet conversations with your new family, tending to the wounded when one of them steps on a sea urchin, attempting to make letters with bodies for a group photo, and an unforgettable dinner over unlimited rum by the bonfire as it blazed quietly into the Caribbean night…

 

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The ladies

 

The gentlemen

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You’re going to miss the steep “WTF are we going” 10 minute hike uphill to reach a nightclub in a cave — famous for being the site of where a freed slave-turned-serial killer ate his victims many years ago (TMI) — passing around seemingly endless bottles of rum like candy, shedding tears over that depressing moment when you realize that the trip was already more than halfway through, jumping in to defend your family from racism and sexual harassment, and then epically celebrating our limited time with an amazing group of people you would eventually call your home away from home.

 

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And can you miss things you don’t even remember? Yeah, you’re going to miss that too…

 

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The struggle being real

 

(to be continued)…