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  • Writer's pictureAnnika Nygren

It's Been A Long, Long While

Hey there lovely folks who take the time to check on me -

It’s been a long, long while since I have written and shared about my whereabouts. Over six months, in fact. This half of the year has been bumpy and beautiful… filled with student trips, Spanish slip-ups, time outside, deep loneliness, self-reflection and a new approach to the path I'm on.

A milestone was also passed - one that felt simultaneously fast and slow. It has been over a year that I have been traveling/working overseas. I loosely set this goal when I left teaching and started this sabbatical of sorts, not knowing what to expect. And now, it’s looking like it’s going to be another year of new kinds of work, income, and experiences. In this year I have held many new job titles, including but not limited to:

  • A nanny in Italy (for a cultish yoga family... that’s another story)

  • A vegan sous-chef and receptionist at a Surf and Yoga retreat in the Canary Islands

  • A vinyasa and yin yoga teacher in Europe, South America, and online!

  • A face painter at Saturday night raves on Fuerteventura

  • An AirBnb host in northern Peru

  • An online assistant for a yoga school

  • A trip leader for student groups in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica

  • A “swamper” (aka big boat shover and gear carrying mule) AND yoga instructor on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho

  • A substitute teacher for pre-school through 8th grade in bilingual schools in Colorado

… it’s been... a journey. And a wave I plan to keep on riding for a little while longer.

After my time in Peru back in February, I was lucky to spend March in Puerto Rico working for Global Works supporting schools as they connect with the culture and a small community on the vibrant island. We are helping to build at least one cement room in every home in the Via Del Rio community so that as future hurricanes inevitably deeply impact the island, every family will have at least one safe room to weather the storm. These rural villages were STILL recovering from Hurricane Maria and now have been re-devastated by Fiona. If you are able, my friends from PR recommend this organization for donations: Casa Pueblo.

After PR, I shipped off to Costa Rica for four months leading more school and student trips for Global Works. One of my favorite parts of working for Global Works is that I get to co-lead these trips with country/region natives. I’d love to give them all a shout out here:

Jorge - born and raised in PR and PROUD. Thank you for sharing your love of the people, the music, the dancing, the (not-so-vegan) food, and the beaches. It was such a treat to see your home through your eyes and our trip to the other side of the island will not be forgotten.

Penny - we had a challenging trip and I am grateful for the lessons. Here’s to no more sea urchins!

Randall - the man, the myth, the shimmying legend! Whilst shaking your hips and shoulders constantly, you amaze me with your charisma and energy. To walk somewhere, nay, literally ANYWHERE, with Randall is to be embraced with greetings and support. I am convinced Randall is the unofficial mayor of the place. Can’t wait to salsa with you again one day my friend.

Chalo / Elefante - we had some of the trickiest circumstances, and there is no one else I could have made it through the weeks with. Thank you for all the animal, land, political, geographical and facts. Listening to you talk about your country gives me butterflies. Many tears and hugs were shed and shared - and I hope that there are more trips to come.

JanCarlos and Nohelia - my co-leaders for el viaje lo más grande: 25 days, 18 high schoolers, lots of coffee, and very little sleep. JanCarlos, you smashed leaving the country for the first time and have a grounding and calm demeanor. Nohelia, you are single handedly the most powerful and beautiful woman I have ever met and worked with. While many things seemed to get lost in translation for us, we were always speaking the same language somehow (enserrrrrrio???). Nohelia is an artist, a coffee connoisseur, and the damn best group facilitator in the game. I will always be learning from you.

Of course, all of these trips included gold star teachers and students too and I am so grateful to Global Works for trusting me to be a part of this amazing community-centered, service-oriented organization.

Sprinkled throughout the trips I was also able to sneak in som QT with family and friends . Jeanne and Joe got married (again!) in temple of trees. Kate and Postyn hosted the biggest community building event whilst simultaneously saying their vows with Mount Rainier in the backdrop. I got to go back to Amherst for reunion, see the new astro turf and tear it up on the dance floor with my nearest and dearest ladies. It was a GIFT to see people who have known me more than a week and feel a sense of "home" I had been craving amongst all the movement.

AND sweet JillyBean, the catalyst of my travels and forever inspiration, came out to Costa Rica for some surf and met my wonderful pals Carl and Sofia who I met back in Fuerteventura last October!

After the Global Works season, I was over the moon to be back in the American West. I celebrated one official year of following my dreams by returning to a place that makes my heart sing.

Stanley, Idaho.

After teaching yoga and carrying lots and lots of camp gear for the clients of the river trip, I spent about 9 days camping and hiking by myself in the Sawtooth Mountains before a little bike packing trip with a dear pal and badass Gillian. After a year of solo travel, I battled some unexpected deep loneliness and anxiety. Turns out feeling independent is a life long practice.

After Idaho, it was time to face the items I had stuffed into a family friend’s attic 12 months prior. I purged some, I substitute taught, savored in community and the access to dark leafy greens, took an obsessive up amount of studio yoga classes, reconnected with my former students, biked a bunch and indulged in having autonomy over my time, fuel and freedom.

Thanks for reading, folks.

Next Stop: SurfTerm in Nosara, Costa Rica.

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