Look, people. It’s GO TIME.

How do I know that it’s GO TIME? Well, for one, the calendar says so. For two, the butterflies in my stomach say so. For three, The Pile says so.

The Pile

Ye Olde Ecuador Pile

I use my patented “Pile It” method when preparing for a big trip — as in, I start a pile on the table and every time I buy/see/think of something that I’m going to take, I toss it in the pile. All the time Sometimes, The Pile and The Bag don’t share the same vision. And when that happens, there’s a requisite reckoning before The Bag can be zipped. Or lifted. The size of The Pile last weekend told me it was time for said reckoning, and so I began.

I switched between my mom’s house and my dad’s house every week as a kid, so I consider packing one of the cornerstones of my childhood. There were parts of it I hated (still do), but I have always loved that last glimpse of everything all neat and tidy in the bag as the lid closes. I like the Final-Four-esque-bracket of single elimination as I hold two items in my hand — shower-worthy flip flops are a must, so that means back to the closet, cute flip flops (The Pile always, by definition, has more shoes than The Bag can tolerate). I like the zen of neatly folding and rolling things, the sort of Tetris game of finding the right little spot for every item. I like the inevitable gratitude that washes over me while packing. The giant heap of fancy stuff that I’m putting into a fancy bag to go on a dream trip that’s made possible by the countless sacrifices of my my long-suffering husband and children and the boundless support of so many partners and moms and dads and kids and friends and family, and the unique employer who makes it all happen in the first place? You’d have to be a pretty big jerk to not find at least something in that (long, run-on) sentence to be thankful for.

Heather - Ecuador team

L-R: Nina, Heather, Sarah L., Lori, David (aka Max Headroom), Debbie, Heidi, me (Kelly) and Jenny. Not pictured: Bubbles.

And of course, the thoughts of gratitude extend to include my intrepid traveling companions. Since I last wrote, we’ve had a couple of meetings. There’s been lots of talk of shots (in a word, ouch), food, water, technology, scheduling, presentation content, and travel arrangements. We even drank bubbles(!) at my house in April in celebration having all of our plane tickets purchased. We’ll have one more meeting, on Friday, to go over final details and give our final pep talks. The first of us will leave on the 16th, and we’ll all be there by the evening of the 19th. There’s not much left to say, really. We’re ready. It’s time to grab hands and jump off that cliff.

Not knowing what’s ahead, it’s hard for me to make promises about keeping in touch while we’re down there. I hope to be able to write a few quick dispatches, and to be tweeting regularly. But, just in case you don’t hear from us, please know that we are all excited and nervous and that we are feeling (and needing) every single solitary good vibe you can muster. This will be hard work. We will cry and we will sweat. Our hearts will break. But. We can do hard things. Our shoulders are strong. And our hearts are even stronger.

Hasta luego, amigos. Nos vemos en Ecuador.


ecuador

This post is part of our series documenting our international service trip to Baños, Ecuador. You can read our other entries here, and be sure to check back often for future updates.