Cate is..going to be in one place!

My new plan for an adventure is to stay in one place (after moving)! I know, this is revolutionary.

So, as many of you know, after graduation I immediately (I mean the day after my last final–yikes!) left to backpack in Southeast Asia. I had planned on doing a trip after graduation, and the idea to go to Southeast Asia came from a girl I met in my Human Sexuality class last fall.

Initially I was hesitant to consider the trip, partly because I had ideas of going to travel on the coast in Croatia and the Mediterranean, but also because it was a big deal commitment with someone I didn’t know so well (boy should I have listened to that instinct!).

Anyway, my desire to travel and see all of the world outweighed my hesitations and my friend and I booked our flight to SE Asia.

I imagine many of you already know that two weeks into what originally was supposed to be a 7 week trip–but was shortened to 6 weeks when my travel partner decided she wanted to get home for her boyfriend’s frisbee tournament?? Talk about red flag!–the girl I was traveling with and I parted ways. She went home after a short beach trip and I continued on.

By the time she left I was VERY ready for her to go and honestly I think that being on my own in such a foreign place was the exact growth experience I wanted and needed. All the same it’s safe to say that friendship is pretty much over.

But that’s not the point! The point is I had an incredible, challenging, exotic, great experience, but I also learned a lot about what kind of traveling I DON’T like (I didn’t think there could be such a thing!).

Prior to my trip to Southeast Asia I thought I could travel around the world, all over, indefinitely…so long as the money lasted. I still love traveling and I still want to see ALL THE THINGS (I like practical goals), but I learned that traveling just to travel for extended periods of time is not my favorite.

In the past when I was in Spain and in the Galapagos I was traveling, but I also had something I was doing–studying and teaching–and I had a home-base-away-from-home. Traveling while doing those things was SO much more rewarding for me because for one, I was able to get involved with the new community I was living with and really learn about the culture and the area. Also, each place I visited I appreciated just a little bit more because I wasn’t just constantly traveling. The trips I took around Europe and to other islands in the Galapagos were like mini-vacations and nice treats.

But this isn’t the point either! The point is, before my Southeast Asia trip (in fact, right up to the end) I had TONS of plans to travel for the foreseeable future. After Asia I was going to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, then bum around Europe visiting friends, and then come home before teaching abroad in Chile for a year.

But, once I got back from Asia, I was overcome with this desire to grow some roots, and preferably grow them in my own country! And I will admit a big portion of that impulse came from my reluctance to leave Aunt B (for the past year and a half I’ve lived in an apartment by myself with just Aunt B and, I didn’t think it could be possible, but we’ve become even more inseparable).

Y’all probably know that once I have a plan I’m a women on a mission, so once I decided I wanted to settle a little I immediately began planning to move. HA.

So that’s the other thing, I wanted to settle, but I also felt like trying something new and it felt like after 22 years, it was time for me to leave Austin and explore a new home.

So now, how did I pick Colorado? I don’t know.. A few months before graduation I told my dad that after all of my travel plans I intended to move to Colorado.. even though at the time I thought that would be up to two years down the road, and despite the fact I hadn’t really visited the areas I imagined I would live in.

I think the main draws of Colorado were the weather, the beautiful landscape, and the fact that I’d heard people were very active and interested in doing outdoor activities.

So once I decided I would be cooling my jets for now I made plans to come out and visit the areas I thought I’d want to be in–Boulder and Denver–and find a place to live.

And you know how this story ends because here I am on a new adventure in Boulder, Colorado!

I am hoping to use my blog again to keep my family and friends updated. Also, I am thinking that the need to post something will force me to go out and do things so I have something to write about!

Alive and..

Well I did in fact make it to the Galapgos. After my very indirect flight I arrived to the island I am staying on, San Cristobal, on Wednesday.I have to be honest and say that I doubt I will update my blog again while I´m here because one, the internet is entirely too slow to post pictures, and let´s be honest, my descriptions aren´t exactly enthralling, and two, I usually am busy all day long and I rarely find time to stop and use a computer.However, I want to try and give a brief update of my past couple of days so you have an idea of what my time is like on the island.

My time here is pretty much divided in two. I spend the morning volunteering from 8-12 and then I go off on adventures after lunch.

Volunteering here has been…trying. I am helping out a teacher with a class of twenty-two 4 year-olds with special needs. One boy has a very severe case of autism, and a few others might be a little behind, but it seems like the majority of the special needs are bad behavior.

The students kick, bite, and push each other all day long, and getting them to do an activity has been nearly impossible. The school systems are in a transition period and they are attempting to create a more effective system, but right now there is no discipline and not much learning is happening.

At the end of the first day the teacher pulled me aside and asked me to come up with lesson plans and ideas to help the class be more organized. Without a disciplinary system we really can´t get anything done, so I decided to make a giant chart to hang up on the wall with all of the students names so that we could give them stars when they behaved well, and take away stars when they behaved poorly.

Two minutes after hanging up my chart a boy ran up and tore it apart. And that essentially describes how my efforts go in the classroom.

Since then I have made a more durable version of the chart, and there has been some improvement in the behavior, but it feels a lot like I am trying to teach this large class on my own.

Aaanyways, this sounds very negative, but I do have faith I am making a difference. I have already seen a slight shift in the attitudes of the kids since I made my chart and started giving high-fives for doing well. Unfortunately, I am only here one month and making any sort of significant difference with this group is going to require time, so hopefully I can start some changes that will be continued by future volunteers.

Also, while the volunteering is really hard, the island has been AMAZING. I have been here less than a week and I have gone snorkeling with turtles, seen a blue-footed booby and tons of iguanas, swam with a sea lion (but really, he was swimming around me as if we were dancing and he even toughed my toes with his nose!), ridden in the back of the truck through the jungle to a beautiful beach, watched the sun set….and these activities are just part of an average afternoon here.

Which is why I don´t have time to blog. Anytime I think about needing to check my email, something like hiking to an inactive volcano or swimming with a shark pulls me away…it´s really tough for me.

In fact, I am only blogging now because I am waiting for the stores to open so I can buy my own snorkel gear and go swim with the sea lions again. Then I think I´m going to hike to this tiny isolated beach and watch the sun set.

So that is what I will be doing. I am taking a ton of pictures and I can post them when I get back!


The Galapagos

I ended my blog in Spain writing posts while procrastinating instead of studying for finals, and now I am starting my blog again for my trip to the Galapagos while procrastinating instead of studying for my final. How appropriate!Today is my first and only final, but more importantly,  it is also my last day in Austin before my month-long adventure to the Galapagos.Tomorrow I am heading to the Galapagos to the island of San Cristobal where I will volunteer and work at a school with special needs children through the program Projects Abroad. This program organizes for volunteers to go all over the world and, before landing on the Galapagos, I was considering spending this month in Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam, and Fiji among others. It was pretty hard to go wrong.I chose to study in the Galapagos because one, I will be able to speak the language there, so I think that will make a more effective volunteer and I will get to practice speaking. Also, I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Galapagos and see the amazing biodiversity and animals before it all disappears.

Aaaanyways, so that is why in approximately 12 hours I will be heading on a very round-about flight to the Galapagos.

I honestly have no idea what to expect once I get there. I am staying with a home stay family, and I know I am volunteering at the school, but that is ALL I know. Seriously. I don’t know a single other person on the island, I don’t know what exactly I will be doing while volunteering, I don’t know what the area is like, and there could be anywhere from zero to hundreds of other volunteers there (probably not hundreds, but I just don’t know!).

If you know me well you know that I like to have plans, which has lead me to constantly try to decide exactly what I will be doing from 5 years from now, if not 10 years down the road. Some might say that it is impossible to plan so far in advance, but that doesn’t stop me from trying! So maybe it is a good change that I can’t even try to make such extensive plans even if I wanted to. I will relinquish my control–or more appropriately, my delusion of control–and just take things as they come.

One thing I know I am excited for is to see all of the animals and wildlife, so I plan to take lots of photos and hopefully keep everyone updated through my blog. However, Disclaimer! Along with the many other things I have no clue about, I have no idea what my schedule will be like or what my access to the internet will be, so I hope to write frequent updates, but who knows what will happen. If I disappear after this short pre-departure post, I’m sorry, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Well, I am off to finish packing and to go to sleep. I’ll send off with a picture of an island inhabitant that I hope to meet: a blue footed booby! And this guy looks like he is waving with his foot! Silly.

Hasta pronto

Ode to Aunt Bee

Last night I was freezing in my bed and I instinctively wanted to grab Aunt Bee, my little heater, and make her spoon me and warm me up, but all I could grab at were empty sheets. I have had Aunt Bee since I was in fourth grade and this semester is the longest time and furthest we have ever been apart.Getting through the semester and the cold nights without her hasn’t been easy, but I survived and now it is approximately 48 hours until we will be reunited! Since I was thinking about my Bee Buggy so much I decided that she deserved a post just to herself about all the reasons why I love her and how she and I are soul mates!
Aunt Bee is always ready for a road trip!


She’s there to help me pack…

and she only asks for belly rubs in exchange.

She gives me kisses for bathing her!

And she is a great bun/bed warmer in the winter.

Some might say that we have a bond so strong that we were destined to be together, as evident in the many characteristics Aunt Bee and I share.

For instance, we aren’t afraid to take fashion risks

We can be classy when the occasion calls…

We aren’t afraid to indulge!

And we both are delicate sleepers!

Oh Aunt Bee! I can’t wait to fall asleep to the gentle rumble of her man-like snore and with both of our head above the blankets and mouths open–what a pair we are!

My Home in Sevilla

I am officially done with finals! After two bottles of gatorade and hibernating for 12 hours last night I woke up feeling almost normal and decided to take the final to get it over with. I thought I was pretty much back to 100% when I walked to the test tonight until I got to the university and realized I couldn’t make out anyone’s faces, but I wouldn’t let that stop me! I was ready to be done, and now I finally am!

Well actually, I am supposed to go to lab this week, but I don’t think that is actually going to work out. What happened was after my test my psychology teacher asked me when I was leaving and if I could go to lab this week, and unable to think on my feet slash still recovering from the surprise oral test I said yes. However, I am not mentally prepared for any more class. I mentally prepared myself to do just exactly what I had left and no more. I was prepared to finish class on Monday, take my four finals,  be done, and then go home on Friday. Labs are just out of my capacity.

While attempting to study for psychology I procrastinated and took pictures of the apartment I’m living in (I would feel guilty for procrastinating but now I am just glad I didn’t waste any more of my time studying). So, now that my semester abroad is pretty much over, why don’t I show you where I have been living!

When you walk in to the left there is the kitchen…
and the living room/dining area is straight ahead.
From the living room you turn left and get to the hallway
And then the first room to the left is my bedroom and my tennis racket I dragged thousands of miles and across 4 countries to not to use…

 The first right from the hallway is my bathroom and my tiny shower. I can’t take a picture of the room because it is so small and I can’t lift my arms up completely when they are bent
So this is my home for the past for months, and where I will be leaving in two days! I still am so relieved to be done with finals and so tired of the school system here that I couldn’t be more ready to leave, but tomorrow I am planning to skip my labs and hang out with my girl friends and I think then I will definitely start to get bummed and reluctant to leave…kind of. At the same time I can’t wait to play with Aunt Bee and make cookies and then eat cookies and see my family!