When we began our journey in 2012, we had no jobs and few possessions and felt incredibly free to wander with no predetermined agenda. Our life was “worlds apart” from the life we had known prior to that moment. The feelings of unrestricted freedom were like a long, deep breath of fresh air! As we return to Gunnison this spring, our experience will be “worlds apart” from that of the first two and one-half years as we enthusiastically jump back into the world our graduate students occupy in the Master in Environmental Management program at Western State Colorado University.
As we travel, we have relied on technology to stay connected and current with what is going on in the world. Jess, being a whiz at logistical planning on something as small and compact as a smart phone, has been the motor at the center of the machine as we have traveled from place to place. Sally, on the other hand, has determined where we are going, be it next week or in the coming months. All of this would not be possible without the IPhones we carry with us everywhere we go. How did people ever travel the way we are before technology? Yes, it was possible, but now, the ease of staying connected is “worlds apart” from the way it used to be.
As we have travelled for the last three and one-half years, we have found that being “worlds apart” can also refer to the social and cultural distances, sometimes short and sometimes great, separating us from the people and places we have visited. Predictably, it can also refer to the mind boggling differences we have found among not only our place-based cultures across the U.S., but also the differences we consistently and constantly discover within the same country, across countries, and between the U.S. and other countries. Distances, cultures, ecosystems-----all can be “worlds apart” from what is common place and comfortable to most of us.
Significant miles of separation were a part of our lives this time as we began our next travel adventure. This trip launched in a unique way, with Jess exploring Costa Rica with a group of WSCU MEM graduate students and Sally recuperating in Arizona after fracturing her back. “Worlds apart?” It definitely felt that way to both of us. The last three and a half years have been some of the best of our lives. Living daily, traveling both abroad and in the U.S., and working in a place and job we both love have been made all the more meaningful and wonderful because we have been able to do it all together. The time apart in early January gave us both pause-----time to consider the meaning and value of separation and the sweet feeling of reunification.
We have joined together again, paused in Europe for a week, but are ready to travel to a new world, one that is likely to redefine for us, once again, what it means to be “worlds apart”. We head to Africa.
Posted in Barcelona, Spain. Images are of Sally looking out at the Mediterranean Sea, Jess with Western State Colorado University students in Costa Rica and both of us in Besalu, Spain, together again.