Posted by: HelenRortvedt | 21 August 2010

Excused Absence

The one-year anniversary of my last post on this blog is fast approaching.

I hope to begin posting more regularly again, but—before I begin—I feel the need to explain my absence.

In the last year, I have:

  • Worked over 130 days “in the field” as an instructor with Where There Be Dragons (predominantly in Bolivia, but a with a brief stint in Peru as well).
  • Been bitten by a piranha.
  • Manually extracted a worm from my right foot.
  • Been caught for “Border Evasion” on the Peruvian-Bolivian border. (Not recommended.)
  • Developed an obsession with mustard.
  • Gone through six different cell phone numbers (1 in the US, 1 in Honduras, 1 in Nicaragua, & 3 in Bolivia…don’t ask…)
  • Seen Bolivian President, Evo Morales, twice in person.
  • Experienced sweltering heat in November, December, January, February, March, April & May.
  • Hiked through a blizzard in July and seriously contemplated the possibility of frostbite.
  • Crossed 16 international borders in 8 different countries.
  • Spent 57 nights in the United States of America.
  • Spent the remaining 300 or so somewhere else.
  • Seen beloved friends and family in Virginia, DC, Colorado, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Washington (state), California, Bolivia, Peru, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize and Costa Rica.
  • Spent far too many hours in the Miami International Airport.  FAR too many…
  • Snorkeled with sea turtles, trekked with alpacas and swam in the world’s only fresh water lake inhabited by sharks.
  • Reached a new personal highest altitude of 17,300 ft (summit of Tunari in Cochabamba, Bolivia).
  • Forgotten most of my Quechua. (Bummer…)
  • Learned to make bagels.
  • Contemplated the wisdom and ingenuity of those who came before us as I explored the ancient cities of Tiwanaku, Machu Picchu, Inca Llajta, Tikal and Copan.
  • Been awed by the power and beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, the Cordillera Real of the Andes and the unnamed (at least to me) volcanic ranges of Central America.
  • Literally lived out of my backpack.
  • Decided that I am ready to put down some roots, temporarily, at least.
  • Accepted a teaching job at Mayatan Bilingual School in Copan Ruinas, Honduras.
  • Moved into my first apartment (e.g. semi-permanent residence) since December, 2005.
  • Learned from many.
  • Been inspired by many.
  • Loved many.

It’s been quite a year.

Life is a journey.

Those are the words I live by.

And these:

In times of change, the learner inherits the Earth, while the learned stand perfectly equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.

More to come on life, work and the pursuit of baleadas in Copan…

17,300 feet.

Piranha lunch.

It's the 21st century in the Andes, too.


This is how you contemplate the wisdom and ingenuity of those who came before us in the ancient Maya city of Tikal.

Paying attention to detail in Copan.

Sunset on Lake Nicaragua.

An Appalachian friend in Ramsey's Draft Wilderness, near Staunton, Virginia.

Beautiful California.


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