ST. LOUIS, MO. -- Today's the day.
I've made my list and checked it a million times; selected and reselected my gear; said my goodbyes and received good wishes and safe travel blessings from near and far. I've left my car keys, my smart phone and my GPS behind. I'll be making my way by foot now and by mass transit; everything I'll need is either in my pack or shoulder bag, or it's something I'll have to find along the way, or live without.
I've been on multiple deadlines for weeks, with barely a moment to linger over a cup of tea with a loved one. Now the last loved one has pulled away from the curb, I've checked my backpack and I've made my way through security with an hour to spare, and there'll be lingering aplenty.
Today, the only thing on my list is Mexico City.
There in the Mexican megalopolis, people are still rushing to make appointments -- and I will too, tomorrow. But this afternoon I'll greet a climate 40 degrees warmer and a mindset to match. I'll slow down and take time to think; to read a book; to chat with the people I meet along the way. I'll take time to breathe and look around.
"Are you excited?" my daughter texted me last night as I checked my list for the millionth time.
"Not yet," I responded. "Just a little panicky: Have I forgotten something? Will I miss my flight? Do I have everything I need?"
Now, however, as the coffee does its work and boarding time approaches, I have a moment to reflect on the year ahead. Yes, I'm excited. Also apprehensive - and curious - and a little bit sleepy. But mostly I'm grateful.
In the year ahead, my plan is to travel the length of Latin America, from Mexico to Patagonia, documenting the Latin American environmental movement all along the way for The Esperanza Project and other publications. I hope you will follow my journey on both sites. The Esperanza Project will be focused on telling the stories of protagonists in the sustainability movement in the Americas. Roads Less Traveled will be about my personal experience, part travel narrative, part advice for a new generation of digital nomads. At the end, I'll have a book to write and perhaps a documentary to put together, as I will be shooting video as well.
Not many people have the opportunity to take a year to follow their dream. I am hoping that I can do something bigger with this trip -- to do what all dreamers hope to do, to make a difference, for myself, for others and for the planet. But even if I don't, it's the adventure of a lifetime, and with that, I'm satisfied.
For those of you who have offered your support, your prayers and your ideas and suggestions, I thank you. Thanks most of all for reading, and check this spot soon, and also The Esperanza Project. You can subscribe by e-mail or RSS feed from both of the sites, and/or you can follow me on Facebook (both as a fan of The Esperanza Project and as a friend of ME -- and also on Twitter, @esperanzaprojec and @thirstyboots07. )
I don't know how this story will end any more than you do. But won't it be fun to find out?