By Margaret Amaku

Over the summer I had the opportunity to travel to Bolivia to work with a nonprofit organization that provided secondary and tertiary prevention services to the community of people living with HIV and AIDS. While most of my 10 weeks were spent at my organization’s site developing my projects, I did have my weekends to go and explore.

One of the top things on my bucket list was to go on a three-day expedition to Salar De Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. Everything about this place was breathtaking. In every direction, it was brilliantly, white salt and clear blue skies. On the first day, we got to drive up and around mountains, visited hotels made of salt and watched the sunset. It was awesome … until night time came.

Over the course of my travels, I had been dealing with traveler’s stomach and thought I had escaped dealing with the sickness on this trip. Man, was I wrong!

I spent most of that first night sick as a dog, trying desperately to not wake my roommates up (with no luck at all). It was definitely in that moment, as I laid on the cold floor shivering, that I wondered if maybe this is where I could die. I know it sounds dramatic, but I was in the middle of nowhere on top of a mountain with absolutely no cell phone service. I even started wondering if maybe my student health insurance would cover the cost of a helicopter ride back home to my mom.

Eventually, my beautiful roommate, Devynne, woke up and went straight into nurse mode and got me rehydrated and warm again. I was able to get some sleep and was no longer on my death bed. The rest of my trip was smooth sailing after that large hiccup; and although it was an experience of a lifetime, I was exhausted by the end of it.

But it was during this trip that I learned a lot. Adventures and traveling are a lot of fun but it’s definitely important to always be prepared for the unexpected. From then on, I learned to always carry rehydration packs wherever I went, bring lots of water (seriously, stalk up on this) and never to be afraid to lean on the new friendships I have made.

Despite the less than stellar moments when traveling, it can be an awesome and rewarding learning experience.

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