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Bolivia, a crazy experience of listening to myself

Elena Defina

It's been five months and twenty-five days since I returned home and I've just found the time to really stop and write these words. I think it's better not to tell the real reason why I got this break from my usually hectic routine, the important thing is for us to know that I wanted to dedicate real, full and focused time to do this. I was certain that I would get lost in the memories, daydreaming from a smile given to one received, from a tear of fear to one of sincere happiness, from a concretely harsh landscape to a purely real one.

Friends, family, relatives and acquaintances were all moved by my departure, many defined me as brave, crazy, reckless, but if I had to define myself, I think I would have said "I'm finally listening to myself". Several friends kindly thought to give me a small notebook to collect my thoughts during my extraordinary, frightening, incredible and crazy experience, so I left with the notebook I had already bought in my suitcase, reluctantly leaving the other eight at home to make way for colors, puzzles, calculators, tablets and various helpers.

I'll let myself be helped by some of my thoughts that come to mind to tell what this experience was for me.

August 16, 2022 at 8:37 am (BOL)

[…] My departure is steeped in three songs: the first is a prayer “Stay by my side”, the second is a gift to Filippo “Photography” and the third is a rallying cry that reminds me that this journey will always be a part of me "Send me on my way". […]

A prayer to face fear, a promise to keep love alive and my greatest source of happiness wherever I am, and a guiding voice to remind me who I am.

Although I managed to taste the warm welcome immediately in Cochabamba, to enter the reality chosen as a destination, I had to wait another day and, despite the embarrassment of my poor language skills, I was very excited.

August 17, 2022 at 5:13 pm (BOL)

I don't know what to say to describe Casa de los Niños, I can't sum it up in any way. […] But there is one important thing to say, it is a reality that lives on dreams, big dreams!!

A month and a half may seem like a very limited and/or limiting amount of time, but I can assure you that it is not. You have a lot of time to start feeling at home in a new place, to learn to love the people who make up your family there, to travel, discover and experience wonderful places, foods, smells and experiences, to learn one (almost everything) new language, start sharing everyday joys, sorrows and fears with the natives, get attached to each one of them (especially some small ones) and create strong bonds, make your dreams come true, question yourself completely, lose yourself in the fear of not knowing what is your place on Earth, to find yourself in the awareness of your choice, to find yourself grown in all points of view and profoundly changed.

September 14, 2022 at 4:41 pm (BOL)

During these days I did many things that I didn't think I would really be able to do: I traveled through Latin America, I was in the Amazon, I glimpsed Peru (my biggest dream), I rode a motorcycle for the first time, I swam under a waterfall, I ate larvae, I slept under mosquito netting, I saw a tarantula strolling peacefully at the gas station, I taught courses for people with much more experience than me speaking entirely in Spanish, I took a plane with three rows of seats, I saw the Cruzeiro do Sul, I went through a scary cave , admired the Andes scale and set foot in an Inca village.

It is very difficult, I would even say impossible, to describe in words how much this experience has become a part of me, but those who had already known me before I left, those famous friends "from the notebook", can make a comparison, from time to time they seem surprised at how different I am now.

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