02 June, 2012

Mirror Mirror

"What are you at zero inches from yourself?"

"Nearer to you than all else, is the origin of the world."

~Douglas Harding

30 May, 2012

The Older I Get, the Less I Know

The older I get, the more human behavior intrigues me.  I once believed people are innately good, and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Then I was proven wrong over and over again, and there was a time I lost all faith in humanity.  People are greedy and selfish and controlling and power-hungry, and don't know how to enjoy life.  Priorities all out of whack.  And when the human race conditions itself to seek happiness in things, and their possessions, and how much money they have (or pretend to have), and how many degrees they have, instead of building relationships with PEOPLE -- their friends, family, and strangers, then it becomes second nature to hurt people.  Not intentionally, but simply because we have lost touch.  We are out of touch with who we are, and so we constantly change.  We are out of touch with who we want to be with, so we choose indiscriminately based on good looks or other unimportant factors.  Then I realized that by not making it known what I want, I've hurt people.  Not intentionally, but because I'm human.  Human and imperfect.  And that was the day I regained faith in humanity, because we are all imperfect, and we are human, but we are trying.

27 March, 2012

I want to inspire others to be stewards of the Earth.

3/27/2012  7:22pm Panama City, Panama.
If I were to win the lottery...
It would be a life-altering experience.  But you have to think about what you would do with all that money, before you've won, and the money clouds your judgement.
Besides writing my book, I would build houses. All over the place.  What would I use it for? Free housing for Returned Peace Corps volunteers? Youth programs, travel & nature outdoor adventure programs? There will be one in Colorado, and I'll put my roots down there, and I also need to find my mountain.  I guess I did find it, but I need to find that view.  Once I find that view, I will stay a while, and write my book.  Except I'll need to go to Oma's attic and get my old journals.  And there I will build another house.

Is that what I want? To take away lottery money from people who really need it? Wait, YES! I will use it responsibly. I'm probably one of the few people in the world who will use it for the environment, and youth, and animals.
And if I don't win the lottery, my book sales will afford me every thing I want in life.  Because I already have it.  It's always here.  We just get so caught up in life, that we don't actually LIVE it.  I want to teach others how to live.  Not with schemes, or tips from The Secret, but through animals and nature.
Animals and Nature.

A decade ago we had a guest speaker, a motivational speaker, come in and talk to us about personal goals, and that we each needed a mission statement.  There's mine.

25 March, 2012


As I approach the end of an era, an era of foreign lands, indigenous languages, colorful clothing, funny hats, erratic public transportation, and an uncertainty about what the future holds, one begins to contemplate the next steps.  What lies ahead?
A good exercise to put yourself on the path heading in the right direction is a little game we'll call, "What would I be doing if I won a million dollars?"
I like the phrasing of this question better than, "What would I DO with a million dollars?" which indicates using the money as a corrupt tool, perhaps to buy things or people, or people's land, or their water supply.  Whereas "What would I be DOING with a million dollars," at least to me, indicates a more proactive relationship with the winnings, and managing THEM rather than them managing YOU.

If I were to win a million dollars, what would I be doing?
Well, I'd probably be doing the same thing. Saving frogs. But really, I've been thinking about my future, and I want some things that it seems money is a small hiccup in getting there.  Like kids.  If I adopt, I would have to wait a while until I'm stable. And right now I have no job, no house, and no, well -- money.  I'd really love to invest in property. Something in the states, maybe a rental in a college town, and a horse property, with land for a garden and flowers and trees.  Then I would have another house in a foreign country. Something charming, with character.
My school loans would be paid off, but I don't want my brain to get flabby, so I exercise it with education. I would go to vet school, and get my PhD in a dual program. I would do research on oxytocin.  The happiness chemical.  I would research the brain's untapped potential.  Also, I would get trained in a specialized field like Equine Massage or Chiropractor, and open my own facility.  It would probably be non-profit and have a program for kids & adults with disabilities.
Before all that, I'd meet with a financial advisor about investing, and get bustling on making my money make money. I would live with a small carbon footprint, and advocate for a change in dependence on fossil fuels, not just petroluem which is running out, but on natural gas too, and at the least, build my house green.  Who knows what that fracking is doing to Mother Earth? Our sacred Pachamama.
And give back.  Even though I've spent my life "giving" I'll just keep "giving," or better said, "paying it forward."  Because even though humans are violent and destructive creatures, and I had lost hope in humanity at one point, I still believe there are good people out there.  I see it in small acts of kindness.  I see it when I expect the worst from people, and have my guard up, and something is out there, insisting I don't give up on humanity.
I would make sure my family is secure.  And that everyone comes 'round to visit my children, adopted or biological, or combo. And I'd get a hiking dog.  And I'd train wild mustangs.  And I would live off the land, the way we were meant to do it, sustainably, in sync with nature.

I would have to be very careful that millions of dollars wouldn't corrupt me.
I would somehow repay the people who have taken care of me in my life. Those who have given me food, shelter, love, advice, and so much more.  Some of them family, others strangers, and others who were strangers who became my family.

This amazing video that a friend sent me:

And the day before that, an RPCV I met a the Magnolia Inn (where I met my 50-year-old Self) emailed me.  We had been talking about my next career moves and she sent two pieces of information: 1) a course description from her Alma Mater, called "The Pursuit of Happiness" and 2) the bio of a classmate of hers who recently passed. Several points of interest:

"Doug dealt with life on his own terms and created his own dream job as owner
and sole (or soul) guide for International Collegiate Expeditions (1978-2001);
guiding hundreds of U.S. college students on adventure (or in his words kick-
ass trips to Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Egypt and
Alaska. He identified himself and his adventure buddies as 'fun-hogs' and once
wrote that he was, a self-admitted cardiovascular lunatic, all-terrain mountain
boarder, bicyclist, snowboarder, mountaineer, and traveler (49 states and 23
developing nations). ... He will also be remembered for countless small and
sometimes big, crazy, and selfless acts of kindness shown to people throughout
his life.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the charity of your choice. He
loved animals and the indigenous peoples he worked with, he treasured the
wilderness and giving young people the opportunity to experience the rest of the
world (as the Peace Corps had done for him), if that helps."

It would have been an honor to have met this man, and I can see my path going in a similar direction.  The donation suggestion in lieu of flowers sounds like something I would request.  I recently told my sister that after living in Peru and being able to buy bouquets of fresh flowers for less than a dollar, I would never buy overpriced florist bouquets ever again.

22 March, 2012

Erica's World

"We are the arquitects of our own lives." Someone said that once, right?
But what if you find yourself reflecting upon your own life, and it seems kind of, well -- made up?
As I was walking down a rainforest path, after having seen a geographic feature in real life that I had onced dreamt many years ago, I entertained the thought that I don't really exist.  I bring this up to my friend (who I met the day before, and we settled in as if we'd known each other for a lifetime), and ponder if life could be so far off from the Matrix.  I look down at my feet, and there are these beautiful cement bricks laid long ago that have been

Ok, I must pause here. It is 7:33am. I need to get these thoughts out before I head out for the day.  With my roommate still sleeping, I put on my headphones and open iTunes. After a few shuffled songs of various artists, I crave Eddie Vedder's voice.  I start with "Hunger Strike" from back in the day of Temple of the Dog.  Then I'm hooked, that's EXACTLY whose voice I want to hear today.  I set up random shuffle for all Pearl Jam songs.  I have so many songs in many versions, from different live acts, that I haven't heard them all.  The next random song is "Soon Forget" live from Seattle 11-6-2000.  It is yukelele-based, and since I was really craving Eddie Vedder's voice, I almost fast-forwarded it to something more vocal.  "No, I'll keep it playing," I thought, because I wanted to quickly open a Word Document (where I jot down my thoughts & ideas) before I forgot.  I remember formulating a hair-brained plan to invite Pearl Jam to Panama for some kind of benefit concert, since I know Eddie is into causes.  I type a few different lines before I find one I like: "Save the Frogs Benefit Concert -- PEARL JAM, Panama City, Panama."  I change the font and size, save it, and continue writing this blog.  The song I was going to fast-forward ends, and I hear Eddie's voice saying, "Now while we have a microphone and we have a platform for the last time in a long time we have to be home, I'm just going to say something that really didn't affect the show at all and mostly thanks to you for having such good energy, but we had a frustrating period in the last two days dealing with the city.  And even though this is a show where all the proceeds, every dollar that you spent, is going to a number of different organizations in the city, a few nationally, I think it's almost $500,000 in two days, I'm guessing, but I think that's it. I don't know if it's post WTO-syndrome or something, but they're really paranoid in this city these days and really overcompensating with security and in fact, if every one of you left right now and only the security people were here, and no offense -- I'm sure some of you are nice people, but there would be 270 people in yellow shirts which is a bigger crowd than most small bands get.  It's bordering on ridiculous.  And I think we feel the need publicly to say that that's a cost usually $6,000 for security.  Tonight, because the city was demanding this of us to have this show, they were.  It's insulting, because of what we went through in Denmark, the last thing that we're even going to open ourselves up to is some kind of unsafe situation.  And for them to go overboard on us, and you ask when will you get some respect in this town?  When will music get some respect in this f*cking town?  Let the kids go to teen dance shows, let them go to dance clubs, let them have an outlet.  Look at this crowd tonight.  They've been well-behaved.  I've been to a number of other things where people are well-behaved.  Give youth some responsibility to be able to prove themselves.  They handled themselves much better than most people at SeaHawks games, believe me.  So the cost of tonight, I don't know if it was just tonight or if it was over the two nights, but instead of $6,000 it was $25,000 for the extra people in yellow shirts, and that's $25,000 that's not going to go to one or a few of the groups that needed it. And I just feel like we needed to air that out so we can sleep well tonight and feel like we did a good job."

Okay, I'll start over:

"We are the arquitects of our own lives." Someone said that once, right?
But what if you find yourself reflecting upon your own life, and it seems kind of, well -- made up?
As I was walking down a rainforest path, after having seen a geographic feature in real life that I had onced dreamt many years ago, I entertained the thought that I don't really exist.  I bring this up to my friend (who I met the day before, and we settled in as if we'd known each other for a lifetime), and ponder if life could be so far off from the Matrix.  I look down at my feet, and there are these beautiful cement bricks laid long ago that have been left to the elements, to shift and get overgrown to their cement hearts' desire.  They are beautiful, and magical, and exactly what I would expect to see if I were in Narnia, or if I were designing the set of my Life.
Life does seem just a bit juvenile, with a creative design that could only be bridled by the constraints of the mind of, let's say...a 5-year-old Me.
If 5-year-old Me were to invent my surroundings, what would they look like?  Well, I'm 5.  So I like school buses.  But not just plain school buses, but super-decked-out school buses painted with whimsical designs, and feather boas hanging from the windshield, and stickers everywhere.  Ooooooh, and lights. YES! Let's put some strings of lights on the buses.  And every morning going to work, let's pass through PARADISE.  But wait, let's make it exotic, so we'll speak Spanish, and we'll call it PARAISO.  Oh yeah, that's better.
Ok, so I'm still 5, and I have to work.  So what would I like to do?  ooh ooh, FROGS!  Yes, I love frogs! Okay, I'm going to work with frogs.  But wait, this is my Life, let's make it good.  I want to work with extinct frogs.  Wait, EXTINCT frogs?!?!? Yes, Erica, extinct in the wild.  Ok, that WOULD be cool, to try to save the little froggies who are being killed off by this big bad EVIL fungus.  Where should these frog tanks be placed?  Hmmm, I know! A ZOO!!  Yes, ok, a zoo.  But I'm 5, so I get bored, so let's make another frog project in another zoo.  This time in a magical land of volcanoes.  Perhaps a cloudforest? How about a cloudforest valley that was created by volcanoes eons ago?  That sounds cool.  Let's call it the VALLEY, because I'm 5 and that's the best I can think of.  But let's make it Spanish so it sounds more exotic: EL VALLE.  Sweet.  But I want to make it MY valley, so since I live in Ancon, I'll call it something similar: EL VALLE DE ANTON.  Just so my friends' parents don't get lost when they come over to drop off my friends.  And over in El Valle, we're going to save more magical extinct frogs.  Let's call them Panamanian GOLDEN frogs.  And from there, I better check out my surroundings.  I think I'll invent some beautiful lush green MOUNTAINS that come soaring out of the ground like the dormant volcanoes they are.  I did have a dream with some cool mountains in it, let me invent those.  And I'll make the climate cooler, so it'll be the perfect temperature and it will rain a little.  What 5-year-old doesn't love to play in the RAIN?
Ok, my World is soooooo cool, I wonder what else we can do?  I love climbing trees.  Let's make special trees.  How?  Hmmm, I know!  Tree trunks are usually round, so I wanna make my trees different.  I know I know! A different shape...how about square?  Yes, SQUARE trees.  And I like hot tubs, but we're in nature, so I'll invent natural hot SPRINGS.  ooh ooh, I almost forgot my favorite activity -- horseback riding! I'll put lots of pretty HORSES here so I can go HORSEBACK RIDING whenever I want.  And surely I'm not the only one who loves this cool place I invented, so I'll let rich people live there in their big mansions in a neighborhood of millionaires.  I almost forgot - it must be in Spanish: LOS MILLONARIOS.  Oh, I also like to hike in the woods, so I'll invent lots of hiking trails.  And my house back in Pennsylania has a lot of Native American history, and one of those mountains kind of looks like a sleeping indian woman, so I'll call her LA INDIA DORMIDA, and I'll make hiking trails to explore the area.  Oh I love EXPLORING!  So here in El Valle there will be lots of horses, and hiking trails, and WATERFALLS, and a SECRET TUNNEL at the top of the mountain where there's a gold mine.  No no no.  We already have GOLDEN frogs, we can't have a gold mine too.  Ok, be creative, be creative... how about a copper mine?  That'll do.  So at the top of the sleeping indian mountain, there's a secret tunnel from an old COPPER MINE.  Cool!
Phew, all this inventing has worked up a hunger.  I'll catch a ride back into town with a taxi driver who was so nice to me, Fran.  We'll just call him FRAN because that's what they call my best friend's sister for some reason, and I always thought that name was funny.  And I'm still 5.  Back in town we're looking for food.  I'm with my friends, let's call them JAMIE, because I have lots of friends named Jamie and James, and JASON, because it sounds good with Jamie.  And speaking of names, I want my name to be something cool.  What if my last name were WRONA, so when you say my name it comes out AIR CORONA.  That's perfect!  CORONA means CROWN in Spanish, and I've always liked pretending I'm a princess.  ooooh ooooh, I can be the PRINCESS and I'm looking for my FROG PRINCE! Perfect!
Ok, so me, Jamie, and Jason are hungry.  We had fun feeding the zoo animals kernels of corn, and those parrots who were saying "HOLA" to us, so cuuuute!
Hmmm, food.  If I were 5, I would want meat on a stick.  SHISH KA BOBS!  Wow, only $1, because everything is affordable in my World.  That was delicious, but now I want dessert.  Oooooh, snowcones! Strawberry, grape, and all these other crazy flavors I've never heard of (I'm finally getting inventive).  And condensed milk to make it really sweet and delicious.
Ok, all full.  We better go home soon.  The bus to get here was so fun, with all the twists and turns.  I put my arms in the air and pretended we were on a roller coaster.  We better walk to the bus area and see how to get back to the city.  I always have good luck in my World.  We got the LAST 3 seats of the LAST bus of the day going back to Panama City, where we live on a little hill with all our friends in a building that kind of looks like a bird cage.  Hey, we can pretend we're birds, like in the zoo!  Let's call our home the CAGE: LA JAULA.

P.S. If anybody reading this thinks that I actually made this all up, I didn't.
It's my life.

18 March, 2012


What is it about the overlap of events that constitutes them being called "coincidences"?  Is it the quality and completeness of individual events leading to similar events or details, that warrants them being "coincidences"?  Or is it the frequency in which we register events or details, that makes us notice them several times, which in turn upgrades seemingly unimportant events to the status of "coincidence"?  In a recent email to my sister, I wrote:
"There have been weird coincidences happening lately, and I know coincidences just happen and maybe it's probability that makes you notice certain things a certain number of times, and disregard the non-important events as non-coincidences."

So how can I explain the spike of coincidences happening lately?  The frequency of events has been occurring at an alarming rate.

Examples will not do justice to the strength of the feelings behind the circumstances, yet merely serve to remind me of all this at a later time.

1. I went to the beach, without mentioning it to anyone back home. When I returned, I received an email from my sister saying she dreamt we were at a beach, and described the location, which was exactly laid out in her dream, the way I was there in reality.  (Hence leading to the email response about coincidences.)

2. I was in the middle of the jungle, reflecting upon my life, and I began to think about horse training.  And I mean, REALLY delve into it, as in an epiphany.  Giddy with delight at having tapped into some kind of gut feeling, we returned to the cabin where I was invited to watch a documentary about caves, and the trailer was about... you guessed it! Horse training. And not only that, but the song was off Pearl Jam's newer album that I've been needing to get, and there it was - my favorite song sung by Eddie Vedder.  (So if someone would like to help me out by obtaining both this Sundance film, and Pearl Jam's Backspacer album, I'd be happy to accept them.)

3. I met myself. My 50-something-year-old self.  Although I've met many people who remind me of me, or have had somewhat similar experiences, I don't think I've ever met mySELF.  And there I was.  After two lunch dates, I just sat back and smiled, and let the coincidences roll in. It was an overload, and we kept getting goosebumps at the same time as we talked about everything under the sun, and BOOM -- coincidence,  BOOM -- coincidence.  It got to the point where it became easier to point out events that were NOT coincidences or things we had in common.

4. Riding in a bus to work one day, I was watching the scenery go by.  My friend was in another seat across the aisle.  I witnessed a homeless man sitting under a tree, coddling something that looked like a blanket.  As the bus got closer, I saw it was a cat, and the man was hugging and kissing this cat, and it was so beautiful and touching, that I pointed it out to my friend, and went on about the human-animal bond.  She looked at me funny, and now I'm getting used to these looks from everyone around me, because she was in disbelief about the timing of my comment.  She pulled out the magazine she was reading and pointed to the article entitled "Human-Animal Bonds" in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums magazine.  

5.  I moved into my new apartment the day before yesterday.  I walked in and introduced myself to my new roommates.  The one who I'll share a room with, shares her name with the 50-year-old me in Item #3 above.  After some chatting, I find out her boyfriend is in the Peace Corps.  None of this may seem like a coincidence, but I'm not living with Peace Corps volunteers, but rather STRI fellows and interns and doctoral candidates.  

The list goes on and on.  Mostly events occurring in the last one to two weeks.

March 19, 2012: More to report.

6. Sitting in my new digs, writing this blog, I hear a knock on the door.  I open it, and there stand two Colombians looking for my Colombian roommate.  I recognize the one standing on the right, and we point fingers at each other and both say, "I know you."  Those initial moments are always entertaining, when the human brain searches through its repertoire of people and events, connecting puzzle pieces, figuring out WHAT WHERE WHEN and HOW you know the WHO.  Then I recall being briefly introduced to him last week at a STRI talk, before being whisked away to Casco Viejo where my friend is house-sitting.  [I'll add to this event, that the house-sitting is for a STRI post-doc and his wife, the house is located by a Peace Corps family owned hotel, where I met my 50-year-old Self, and by her house, which is why she was in Panama to begin with.  Also, the house-sitting friend and I both moved to our respective new digs within 1 day of each other, bringing us from opposite ends of the bus lines 2 hours away distance, to now within walking distance, or a 5 minute taxi ride.]

7. New neighbor's boyfriend's name: male version of same name of my new roommate, my 50-year-old Self, AND my Best Friend from Peace Corps, who has already booked his plane ticket to come visit me in May.  Oh yeah, AND my OLD roommate from Long Beach, who came down with her husband last year to visit me in Peru.

8. Stream-of-consciousness conversation on bus to El Valle.  [Oh yeah -- "pre-coincidence" coincidence -- our other frog project is located in El Valle, and I've been meaning to get out there, but haven't had the opportunity.  So when my new neighbor, over a celebratory Irish Car Bomb for St. Patrick's Day, mentions that he had been planning to go to El Valle the next day, I was game.]  So on the 2-hour bus ride to El Valle, we chatted away to my heart's content, and he asks me, "Why do people paint the bottoms of trees white?"  I let out an auditory scream that may have startled the Panamanian passengers.  I have been wondering that and asking random people that SAME question for over the past year, since I was working with trees in reforesting Peru, I became more aware of trees and hence, more aware of this strange world-wide behavior of painting tree trunks white.  Was it so cars see them?  Insect control?  Purely aesthetic?  Ok, we'll Google that later (and we did). And I was right.
Why do people paint trees white?

9.  The bus was navigating the curvy roads as we left the coast and entered an undulating terrain that caused me to throw my hands in the air and say, "Rollercoaster!"  I made mention of yesterday's near fender-bender in the taxi, and I'm so used to crazy South & Central American driving that not even one milligram of adrenaline was released.  I said that was a problem, that not many events release the adrenaline these days.  (Except for the loofah that fell on me during my first shower in the apartment, and with my eyes closed my initial reaction was that I was back in the village and it was some huge spider or snake.)  But I digress (as I always do)...
Looking out the bus window, I see a hawk flying in all its glory, meandering its way above the nooks and crannies of the dormant volcano we were traveling across.  I tell my new neighbor, "I've never had the desire to paraglide or hangglide, but my dad sent me this link about para-hawking in Nepal.  You are tamdem with a hawk trainer, and you are there in the air watching a hawk fly next to you, rotating its directional feathers."  I thought that might be a good activity to get some adrenaline out of me.  My neighbor pointed out the improbability of going to Nepal, and I said, "Actually...you'd be surprised at how many of my friends have mentioned Tibet/Nepal lately."  Like my English-teacher friend in Peru, and my 50-year-old Self who is formulating a business that involves a connection in Nepal.  And that was the end of that conversation.  Almost not worth mentioning in the coincidences list.  And then there's always that final clincher that is the tipping point.  Back home several hours later, I was once again researching my next career move, and Googled "equine therapy" just to see where that leads.  First entry: "Animal Therapy for Kids - The KAT Centre Brings Dogs to Schools and Orphanages in Nepal."  Hmmmm...

10. Several years ago, I had a dream.  I mean, I've had millions of dreams in my life.  But this one was so vivid that it has remained with me.  I DREW it for god's sake, like in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."  I was convinced that I would find those pointy cloud forest mountains on the slopes of Peru.  Nope, nada.  Yesterday we were running out of time after seeing the Panamanian Golden Frog and other animals at the zoo, so we were deciding between the square trees or the thermal baths, located on opposite sides of town.  We opted for the square trees.  The taxi dropped us off at a Hacienda and pointed us towards the trail that leads to the loop to see the square trees.  Stepping out of the taxi into the cool after-rain, I see my mountains.  I stop.  Wait, can it be? Wait, I was in a hotel, looking out the window, and there were those haunting mountains.  I'm in the right place, not the right view though.  Wait, can it be?  No. That was just a dream.  

11.  Walking down the path to the square trees, I have already shared this weird experience with my two friends since I stopped in the middle of our speedy tour of El Valle to look at the mountains, I had to tell them what was happening and why I looked noticeably jolted.  So, in good form, my neighbor says we better find that view that I was searching for, and we head up the trail towards the trees.  We pass a little cabina on the way back that almost frames the mountain like a window, and he says maybe it was a window in my dream, but in reality it's this little wooden viewing area.  Although I tell him it was definitely a hotel window that reveals the view of these mystical mountains, we take a picture for good measure.  He hands me my camera and says he took several. I thank him for that, since my sister is a photographer and I know you have to take lots of photos to get a good one.  I say, "Imagine you were somewhere you'll never be again, like the Eiffel Tower, and your friend takes just one photo, and when you get back to the states, and you are going through your photos, it didn't turn out well, you're stuck with that bad photo."


Jake in Paris.  I did not KNOW he had been to France, until I made up some cliche place where you'd want a  good, once-in-a-lifetime photo.  Okay, are we getting it yet?
And the list of coincidences goes on and on and on...

09 March, 2012

Have you thanked your legs today?

Where did your legs take you today?  You know, some people don’t have legs.  I always think about that, and am grateful.  So I try to use them.  And when I’m tired, or my quads are burning, and I'm thinking, “Why am I doing this to myself?”  The answer is, “Because I can.”

Today my legs took me wading through the crystalline streams of the Panamanian rainforest, searching for endangered frogs that are succumbing to the chytrid fungus.  In heavy rubber boots, I navigated through the forest streams, trying with each step to determine the profundity of my next foot placement, to avoid a flood of water into my boot and having to suffer through a wet sock and pruny foot for the next five hours.  There were many close calls, but luckily I gauged well, even in the pitch darkness when we waited until the cover of darkness to conduct our night search of the rare amphibians.

My legs have taken me to the tops of glaciers, to volcanoes over 20,000 feet high, and through 9 days of trekking through the Huayhuash circuit of the Andes mountains.  My legs have carried me across 26.2 miles of sand and gravel for my first marathon, and have kept me in control of innumerable horses across varied terrain.  My legs have taken me on hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of hiking trails -- muddy, wet, dry, dusty, slippery, sandy, leafy, dirty, hard concrete, soft earth, vines, roots, insects, ants, watch out for snakes, I shouldn't be wearing flip-flops.  

Careful in the dark there, as you scramble over treacherous morrains, and now, put on the crampons, we're climbing the icy glacier.  Rubber boots, flip-flops, running shoes, hiking boots, crampons, Crocs, high heels, flats, Havianas.  Gaiters for the ash and yellow sulfuric powder as we sink into the side of the volcano. Blisters, black toenails, plantar fasciitis, shin-splints, IT band syndrome -- what we put our bodies through!

Okay, crossing the river now.  How many rivers, how many highlands over the ichu grass, in search of the elusive vicuña, Vicugna vicugna?  How many rivers, how many vines to trip over, spider webs to swat from the face, in search of the elusive Atelopus limosus frog? 

I've got many rivers to cross/But I can't seem to find my way over/Wandering I am lost/As I travel along the white cliffs of Dover.