For the first time in my (almost) 30 years, I’m leaving winter in pursuit of summer. In some ways, its a strange feeling. But since this trip has purpose I find myself not the least bit mournful of the month of Utah’s winter I’m about to miss. The smog and lack of recent snowfall make my departure even easier. Alas, I hope the snow does fall in excess while I’m gone, and when I’m back you can feel free to buy me a beer during aprés for taking one for the team.
But wait. Why AM I going to Chile in January? I know I’ve referenced this trip time and again on Facebook over the last couple of months, so I guess I shouldn’t keep everyone in the dark! Through my job working at the Patagonia Outlet in SLC I was able to apply for an Environmental Internship offered through Patagonia’s Environmental Department. I was able to select any Environmental Nonprofit around the world to volunteer with, and if the store is able to cover my shifts while I’m gone and my application is accepted, I’m in! While there are probably thousands of groups I would want to work with, I was drawn to Conservacion Patagonica, founded by Kris Tompkins. Kris worked for Yvon Chouinard in the early years of the development of the company Patagonia, eventually becoming the CEO. She, along with Yvon and her husband Doug Tompkins, fell in love with Patagonia and responded to a need they saw for the conservation of its amazing ecosystems. For more about this story, click here…and also be sure to watch to documentary 180 Degrees South!
I can’t say it wasn’t a bit of work to apply to both Patagonia and Conservacion Patagonica, but I know its going to be worth all the effort, planning and money I put in. Being a Patagonia employee is what made it possible, because for these internships the company pays you for the time you’re gone as if you were still at work! In case I haven’t told you yet, I work for a GREAT company:).
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what it is I’ll be doing. I could be pulling out fences that have fragmented the landscape, removing invasive plants or building trails…really I and the group of people I’m volunteering with will spend 3 weeks doing whatever is needed to help get the NEW Patagonia National Park ready to open by December of 2014. Volunteering is organized in 3 week sessions, and I’ll be working with others who applied with Conservacion who are from all around the world. Our group has been in touch by email, and I’ve connected with some on Facebook, sharing our plans and tips for travel. I’m incredibly excited to meet everyone and embark on this new adventure which I’m sure will fly by! After 3 weeks of volunteering I’m taking almost a week of vacation to do a little exploring of my own. I’m trying my best not to have too many expectations or a schedule, other than to HAVE FUN and appreciate every day. I don’t know what kind of internet access there will be, but I’ve decided to leave my laptop behind. And once I leave the Dallas airport this evening the SIM card is coming put of my phone…so feel free to follow my blog or keep an eye on Facebook and I’ll share updates as I’m able! Thank you so much to all of you who have given me support and advice through this adventure called life.
This is one of those trips where I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but I have this feeling that I’ll be changed by it.