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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Practicing patience while on trek

Patience, It´s something we all want more of but there´s never enough to go around. It is something that can be taught but it takes a long time and with much practice it can be improved. I am one of those people who has never had much patience for just about anything. As a kid, if there were too many people at the grocery store line I would leave my mom and run around the store because the idea of waiting and putting your needs after others was unfathomable for me.

Naturally, as I matured I’ve gained patience but not to the extent I want.  Before this trip my views on trekking and how I used my time are quite different from how it is now.  My old values followed this: Walk fast, push yourself to the limit, and take in the views at the top or camp. If you´re tired keep going and you can always push more. This is still a philosophy of mine but now I have seen the other side. On treks, spending time with kids from all over with different experience levels backpacking and spending time outside can be difficult when you have been blessed with the little patience I have. For the most part on trek there wouldn´t be any problems but on occasion I would hit a wall where I would need to take a few deep breaths, try not to go ahead of the group, and remember this. Over the past 3 months I have learned to push myself in a new way. I practiced patience, putting myself in other´s hiking boots, and keeping in mind that some parts might not be as easy for them as they are for me. It sounds basic and somewhat redundant, but keeping these ideas in the forefront of my mind can be difficult. I also realized the power of making connections with my  amazing fellow students on trek. This is one of the only places that I can have one on one conversations with people out of a group setting and I have come to realize the values in getting to know everyone here on a deeper level. Walking fast can be fun but there is no way to have a meaningful conversation when you´re on the brink of exhaustion. Lastly, I learned something that has taken me 19 years to understand. Treks like this and aspects of life are not about the end, it’s the journey time and what you decide to do with it. Spending time with others you love, being in the moment and keeping in mind that the journey is just as important or more so than the destination. This has been difficult to comprehend being an American where the culture is go, go, go and then go a little bit more, time is a commodity and the end goal is always what´s on others radar. On the third day, our guide, Edson, said something that really stuck with me. He was talking about how there is a time for everything and it is something most westerners can’t get a grip on. He was working with a lady from the U.S on a research project and she wanted to contact Andean communities and get the work done ASAP, but little did she realize that those communities and Edson as well were on “Andean Time” and the communities hadn’t contacted Edson back and things were moving slowly. These trips have made me think a little more like Edson and the people down here. Time down here moves slowly, I hope to take aspects of this with me back home and apply it to the areas of my life that need to experience “Andean Time” more often.