"Women are the guardians of continuity. If the hearth moves, they move with it. Remember, it is the gypsy women who keep their men on the road."

~"Boomerang Love," Jimmy Buffett

2011: Year in Review

I returned from my South American adventure in December 2010 – over one year ago. It’s been nearly as long since my last update, but given the symbolism of a new year, I it would be an appropriate time for a moment of reflection. From the onset, Margaritaville has always been about achieving a certain state of mind rather than a physical location. Acts such as sojourning or traveling may help you get there, but it’s also possible to find it through random acts of kindness, eating a delicious meal, finishing a great workout, kissing in the rain, or in my current case, engaging in intellectual pursuits.

After two years of professional work and spending a year abroad, I have decided to return to school. Working so closely with university students for the last few years made me realize how much I missed the academic environment. Every time a student would complain about a reading assignment or a demanding professor, I would become nostalgic about my undergraduate years. I would literally long to be behind a classroom desk, and I found myself making excuses to audit or eavesdrop in classes. Even if I was just there for observation or moderating, I was literally trembling to keep myself from plunging into the class discussions myself. Although I would never classify myself as an academic, I will admit that I thrive in the classroom environment. I am an intellectual junkie, a consumer of knowledge, and over the last five months, I have had the pleasure of immersing myself in the realm of ideas at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE, pronounced hug-seeh). My experiences at HGSE and living in Cambridge warrant their own separate entries (which I hope to write in the near future), but in the interim, here are some highlights of my first semester:

  1. My racial awakening: It’s a funny cliché that kids do all sorts of experimentation and identity searching in college. I have always felt very comfortable regarding my own sexuality, religion, morals, politics, values, etc, but one area that may have been underdeveloped has been my own ethnic/racial identity. I partially attribute it to growing in up in a white neighborhood and attending a white high school with white friends in Central Texas. Back in the days of Xanga and Livejournal, I remember writing some very embarrassing entries about my opinions on affirmative action and minority scholarships. In my efforts to be “race-blind” and judged on my “merits” (which I might add are not insignificant), I denied a very integral part of myself. Although, it took leaving the country and being consistently interrogated about my “etnicidad” for me to realize its significance, it has been illuminating to re-examine my own educational experiences through a racial/cultural lens. As a person who prides herself on an uncanny level of self-awareness, it is incredibly exciting and stimulating to have a new dimension to explore.
  2. Relationship building: Although I have loved all of my college years and experiences abroad, one by-product of moving around constantly has been the difficulty of maintaining lasting relationships with people. I’m lucky to have formed some very strong bonds with friends from all over the world, specifically ex-roommates and mentors, but I do feel a tinge of sadness for all of the friendships I’ve let go by the wayside.  As a fairly independent person, I am especially guilty of losing contact with several of friends from college.  Recently, I have been trying to reconnect with old friends by unceremoniously dropping back into their lives years later. I don’t necessarily regret it, since all of the aforementioned experiences were formative to my becoming the person I am today, but honestly, I could have made a better effort to keep in touch. This time around, I wanted to push myself to meet new people and maintain meaningful relationships. It certainly helped that I had no prior connections in Boston, so I had to put myself out there, lest I become a misanthrope. It also helps that my cohort is awesome.

  3. I got a haircut. Then I got a second one.
    I was perfectly happy with the first one, but I had the opportunity to get the Rihanna that I’ve so desperately wanted for the last couple of years. Plus, I was able to help somebody out in the process. Everybody wins.
  4. Depois de cinco anos, por fim estou aprendendo minha terceira lengua.
  5. Finally, I mentioned in my original post that among other things, part of Margaritaville was my search for love and romance.  I won’t spend too much time discussing it, lest my blog revert to a Xanga/Livejournal of my crappy overwrought poetry, but given how this relationship has etched itself into some of my fondest memories of 2011, I thought that it warranted at least a short shoutout. In brief, I’m in a relationship. He’s wonderful, and we’re very happy. You’ll probably hear more on that front when he becomes my travel companion later this spring, so keep an eye out.  

Finally, considering I’ve surrounded myself with a group of internationally-minded individuals, it was only a matter of time before I found myself headed abroad again. Incidentally, I am writing this post on an overnight plane to Morocco. We should be arriving in Casablanca in 2 hours. Check it out: http://chasingbrightspots.blogspot.com/

Given the wild popularity of this site (ha ha), it was only fitting that I would become a blogger for our team in Morocco. Oftentimes, in making polite conversation, well-intentioned people will hear that I am studying “Education Policy” and follow-up with asking whether I plan on becoming a teacher (Oddly enough, I got the same reaction when I studied English). I am hoping that Chasing Bright Spots would provide a better glimpse of the rigor and depth of what I actually study.

Whereas that blog will be more academic and education-oriented, I hope to maintain this site separately. Since it is unaffiliated with the university, and I am not representing any entity other than myself, I can provide a more personal, candid perspective of my travels here. Stay tuned!  

Donation Japan

Initially this blog was designed to be an outlet for me to share some of the pictures and stories from my travels, and I think it's fulfilled that function. But Margaritaville always carried a stronger significance to me. In addition to being a place to get your shakes and new tattoos, it was a search for something profound. Something sublime. That could be a place, a feeling, a person, a memory, or a piece of art. Obviously, since I'm back in my hometown of Arlington, Texas, home of 3 amusement parks (if you include Jerryworld), 2 professional sport stadiums, and 0 museums, it's unlikely that I'll find it through my typical avenues of adventure travel. Naturally, I've had to find other ways to keep myself occupied, which I have done to great success, as demonstrated by my recent absence of posts. At a later time, I might share some of the highlights of the last few with you, but for now, I feel there is a more pressing issue.

As mentioned above, Margaritaville is about my search for meaning. In my sophomore year of college, I took an Honors seminar entitled "In Search of Meaning" --a humanities course that rolled literature, religious studies, philosophy, and ethics into 3 credits. The reading list included a variety of texts throughout history exploring some fundamental questions about our basic humanity: excerpts from the Bible, the Torah, and Confucious, poetry from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, seminal novels such as Siddhartha and Stranger. Obviously, it was a very ambitious, wide-sweeping course, filled with lively discussion and thought-provoking questions posed by a group of smart, opinionated liberal arts students who wanted other liberal arts students to hear their smart opinions. Luckily, keeping us all grounded was the infuriatingly brilliant, Dr. Michael Adams. He was a simple man who loved his wife and his dog, and he had a penchant for making absurd metaphors that juxtaposed his academic expertise with his Central Texas upbringing (ex: "Your essay looks like you sprinkled commas with a salt shaker"). Midway through the semester, he offered us the option of replacing one of our literary essays with one describing our experience doing a service project, the lesson being that one can also find beauty and serenity through selfless giving. At a school that literally boasts an ivory tower as its landmark, this type of real world application was both unexpected and refreshing. I haven't seen Dr. Adams since he hugged me at my graduation, but I've never forgotten that lesson. It may not necessarily manifest itself in overt ways,  but it has played a tangible, instrumental part in all of my major life decisions.

It's for this reason, I feel like this blog is an appropriate venue for me to share a very different side project: Donation Japan. In light of the tsunami, one of my good friends took it upon himself to establish a charity for the victims in Japan. Since I had some prior training in disaster relief, he asked me to write a post for the site. Of course I was happy to oblige, although what started as a simple solicitation for monetary donations quickly transformed into an introspective reflection on the act of giving itself. Here is an excerpt:
 As tragic as the tsunami was, we cannot forget the families in our own backyards that are displaced from disasters such as fires, floods, tornadoes, power outages, and winter storms...Large-scale tragedies often move us to generous giving, and rightfully so, but every day millions suffer less visible tragedies such as hunger, homelessness, disease, and humanitarian conflicts. 
The full blog post can be viewed on the Donation Japan website. If the spirit moves you, you can also make an instant online donation to the International Red Cross. All proceeds will be used for disaster relief efforts in the region.

Freedom to Fail: A Global Perspective

Recently, I submitted a video entry to the New Threats to Freedom scholarship competition, in response to Michael Goodwin’s “Freedom to Fail.” He claims that “entitlement mania” will foster dependence and complacency in the United States, a topic of great personal interest, since I recently lived in a leftist country that most Americans would describe as a welfare state.

I have described my campus life in Argentina as “UC Berkeley on amphetamines.” Banners and posters decrying capitalism and demanding revolution adorned the entire building. Classes were regularly canceled for indeterminable strikes and protests. Whenever we did hold class discussions, the students inevitably defaulted to the government’s failures to solve x-problem, whether it be air pollution, traffic accidents, or obesity. A blatant example of this complex was the family that calculated that it would be more profitable to produce more children and receive extra government assistance than to seek actual employment. Nonetheless, it is interesting that for all of the rampant “entitlement mania,” Argentina’s education system did not exhibit the social promotion that Goodwin describes in American schools. Unlike the US, their test culture remains rigorous and demanding. Failure is not only the norm, but expected. These stringent measures ensure that students who successfully complete their programs are not just proficient, but experts at their subjects. On the other hand, having an unlimited fully-subsidized education allows students to fail with relatively few reprisals, aside from the tedium of repeating courses year after year. With little incentives (or alternately, little consequences), it is not uncommon for “chronic students” to spend as many as 10 years completing their education, while producing minimal social output in the meantime.

Obviously, the US will not be adopting that type of mentality any time soon, nor should we. I would suggest, however, that we turn our sights towards burgeoning countries such as Singapore or South Korea whose values may be more in sync with the American Protestant ethic. Unlike your traditional “up-and-comers” China and India whose meteoric growth can be primarily attributed to industrialization, these countries are already developed. Currently, they are experiencing surging entrepreneurship and social enterprise, especially among young people. Whereas the economic crisis in the US has resulted in Goodwin’s alleged “flat earth,” these countries are thriving with new firms and innovation.

My theory is that a major factor is the existence of a robust public healthcare system that balances reasonable price controls with private practices and individual choice of providers. Limited social intervention does not necessarily have to be at odds with individual freedom, it can also reinforce it. This safety net (literal insurance) would grant citizens the freedom to fail at individual pursuits without failing their livelihood.  For this reason (and please take note of the many conditional modifiers to follow), I believe that an intelligent, restricted social infrastructure with a very focused scope could be effective in motivating people to take more risks. Nevertheless, putting these measures in place will by no means guarantee success, thereby keeping the freedom to fail intact.

My full response video can be seen below: 

Ask Jeeves - He Makes Dreams Come True

When I hearken back to my days as a mentor at TIP and my CELTA training in Costa Rica, I have fond memories of the ridiculous trainings and activities we used to do. As a 20-something college student, I have found myself doing icebreakers with toothpicks and fat smelly markers, building Macgyver-styled devices with rubberbands and legos, and reciting jazz chants to demonstrate past participle. Interestingly, one of the recurring themes that appeared at both jobs was the “criticism sandwich.” The general idea is that when you need to correct or critique a pupil, you should cushion the criticism between two pieces of positive encouragement to soften the blow. It would go something like this: You bring up a really good point. I’m not sure it’s the best solution, but you’re definitely not a complete idiot.

Get it? The ego-stroking is the “bread.” Cute, right? It sounds cheesy, and it makes the students sound like fragile, sensitive butterflies, but you wouldn’t believe what a successful strategy it was. I suppose it’s just human nature to like ending with a positive note, almost like closure. Well, if you scroll down a bit, you’ll see some traces of a Negative Nancy. Those of you know that know me well know that it’s just not my nature to be a complainer. In truth, it was always my intention to write a 3-part series about buses, and I was literally saving the best for last. I know I already shared my “good” experiences, but this trip wins in every category.

Interestingly, the best bus ride I took in Argentina happened to be the last one of our epic trip, and it mostly happened by chance. There were a combination of factors at play – both of us were slightly under the weather, we were emotionally drained, and we really didn’t have any desire to hang around the Buenos Aires station any longer than we needed to. Since it was such a high-volume station, there were frequent buses to Tucumán, and we just bought tickets for the next bus available. It just happened to be the first-class bus on Vosa, one of Argentina’s luxury fleets.


I remember stepping onto the bus, and being greeted by a smiling young gentleman in a maroon vest, holding a small basket of mints and hard candies. He was going to be our attendant for the duration of the trip. I don’t remember his name, but I secretly wish it were Jeeves (linguistically implausible, because in Spanish, it would be pronounced ‘hee-vez’), because that’s exactly how bloody accommodating he was the entire ride.

Anyway, we headed to the upper floor as usual sank into our plush leather seats, and like little children testing out a new toy, immediately, we pulled the lever. We had no intention of actually sleeping right away, we just wanted to see what “class” our seats were. Fortunately, as an ejecutivo bus, all of the seats were the full cama, reclining back to an orgasmic 180º. Moreover, as the bus pulled out of the parking lot, we realized that there were less than 10 passengers on the top floor. It was going to be a good night. But it was still early, and we had several hours of reading, watching movies, and killing time before they would turn down the lights.

I shouldn’t have doubted, though, because Jeeves had everything covered. A couple hours into the ride, he pranced up the stairs, clapped his palms together, and gleefully asked if we were ready for dinner. Uhm… chyeah. I suppose on civilized buses, we must observe the formalities. He nodded as if to say, “Very good sir,” and proceeded to snap our tray tables into place -- the tray tables had attachments that connected them to the ends of the arm rests, creating tables, but essentially trapping us into our seats. As a young, 21st-century, independent-minded woman, I felt capable of matching Slot-A to Slot-B, but ever the gentleman, Jeeves insisted. It made me feel a like a baby in a high chair.

Selene hungry! Nom nom nom.
Absently, I wondered if they had any alternative arrangements for our more heavyset passengers, but then I remembered that we weren’t in the United States, and Kevin Smith wasn’t likely to take the Vosa bus.

Our meals were brought to us, vacuum wrapped per usual. Before we could get disappointed by the seemingly paltry portion-sizes of the servings (although they were still much better than any other bus fare we’d eaten), Jeeves was quick to inform us that these were just the appetizers. After we finished them, he brought out the hot meals which were wrapped in foil. There was something very satisfying about peeling off the foil and being bathed in steam. At that point, I was so impressed by the service, I would not have been surprised if they actually had a functioning oven somewhere in the galley. Next, it was time for drinks. In true unnecessarily cute fashion, Jeeves was carrying all the drink options in a wicker basket, as if picking your beverage from a basket was somehow classier. Aside from your typical fountain drink options (water, Sprite, Coca-cola, etc), there was also wine. Uh-oh, dilemma. The white wine would have complemented my entrée very well, but I wasn’t sure if the wine cost extra like it did on planes. Letting myself get wrapped up in the sheer spectacle of the entire experience thus far, I suddenly worried about making a social faux pas by asking whether it was free. To avoid any shameful acts of impropriety, I took the safe route and asked for a soda. In hindsight, I don’t know what I was so worried about… as if Jeeves would have cast me off the bus for asking a perfectly legitimate question. I’m not even sure who I was worried about judging, since there were only 4 other people within earshot – one of whom was my roommate, and the other 3 were French students who didn’t understand Spanish. At any rate, I allowed myself to indulge in my silly Austenite melodrama. That is, until I heard one of the French students behind me utter one of the few Spanish words she knew: vino. Chancing a glance behind me, I saw Jeeves graciously pour while the girl giggled. There was no exchange of currency, no transaction. Damn. It was like that episode of Family Guy where Peter ordered a salad, but really wanted soup. “But it was too late.”

With the timing of a competent waiter, after we all had an appropriate amount of time to nosh on our dinners but before we had cleared our plates, Jeeves came by again with his magical basket to ask if we wanted a refill. Gasp. Did I dare? Switch beverages? I decided to press my luck. I was feeling trepidation, but I played it cool and asked if I could try the wine. Jeeves didn’t even blink as he happily poured me a new cup. Success! Incidentally, the wine tasted awful, but I was in such a good mood at that point, I didn’t care. When he came around a second time, I had another one. It helped make the movie we were watching, a dubbed version of “Leap Year,” seem much more touching and well-acted than it probably was.

As to be expected, the pacing and service of this ride was impeccable. I’m fairly certain Jeeves came up and down the aisle a couple more times with more drink refills, but I had to turn him down. After dessert (yes, there was dessert!) they turned down the lights, but for those of us that weren’t quite ready for sleep, they had the courtesy to put on another movie, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.” The cheap wine could not have been more appreciated.

As the credits started to roll, I think most of us were ready to turn in for the night. Ever the attentive innkeeper, Jeeves made one last run-through of the aisles. I assumed he was checking on the blanket/pillow situation, so imagine my surprise when he asked, “Whiskey?” Come again? The confusion must have shown on my face, because Jeeves resorted to pantomime, throwing his head back as if sipping a shot. Seriously? A nightcap? They were really offering me free liquor. I have never felt more bourgie. I felt like I needed a maroon smoking jacket to go with my brandy. It was one of those rags-to-riches “Pretty Woman” moments where I didn’t know what to do with the escargot pliers. It was like the first time I was in a European hotel and saw a bidet. I felt so undeservedly privileged, that I was too embarrassed to accept. That’s right. I was shamed into turning down free booze. I went to sleep feeling slightly dirty… both because I was being treated like a character in a Fitzgerald novel and also because it had probably been a couple days since our last shower. But the pillows were so damn comfortable and squishy that it didn’t make a difference.

The next morning, Jeeves was up bright and early. Like a doting mother, he wanted to make sure we were up and at ‘em, since we were nearing our destination. To gently wake us up, he offered us our hot, steaming caffeinated beverage of choice. It was just like a Folger’s commercial. Sure enough, shortly afterward, there was breakfast. Yes, it was an Argentinean breakfast, but the thought was nice. And either way, we were getting close to Tucumán. And as we rolled onto the platform, Jeeves gave us a little gift box full of treats to send us off.

It hung on our wall for the rest of the year.

Night at the Bus Station: The Battle for Floorspace

When it comes to travel writing and blogging, the focus is almost exclusively dedicated to what you find at the destination. And rightly so – that’s sort of the point of traveling, right? Occasionally, there might be some spotlight on the method of travel itself, such as my last post highlighting some of my more memorable experiences on bussing around the country. What is usually neglected, however, are those interim periods between stops. I mentioned in my last post that I have amassed over 150 hours of bus travel. That figure does not include the countless hours of wait time spent dawdling between stops.

In a perfect world, one would arrive a comfortable 15 minutes prior to their departure time, just enough cushion to check their luggage, buy a snack, and use the bathroom one last time, but not so long that you feel you are wasting time by being early. The bus ride would be uneventful, and upon arrival at the target destination, one could immediately board the next taxi to the destination city’s center and the fantastic travel adventures would commence.  The amount of time spent at the actual bus station would be minimal, a parenthetical that is so fleeting that it doesn’t really dignify acknowledgment. Sadly, that is rarely the case. Whether it was due to mechanical problems, layovers between bus rides, union strikes, or just inexplicable delays, a good, not insignificant chunk of our trip was spent hanging out in bus stations. Although it isn’t particularly glamorous or romantic, considering how much time we have spent in bus stations, I felt it would be remiss to ignore this inevitable aspect of our travels.

You see, when travelling by bus, every small decision can affect your experience: the bus company you select, the time of year, the time of day, and even the seat number. Over the last several months, I like to think that I have become quite savvy at striking that balance between minimizing my travel time, maximizing my comfort, and keeping within my budget. The bus station itself, however, is a factor that you have relatively little control over. In my experience, bus stations have run the gamut from ramshackle benches and dirt floors to full-service centers that rival most outlet shopping malls. Interestingly, although the bus station is technically your first impression of a new location, there is rarely any correlation between the bus station and the actual city. For example, Buenos Aires, for all its glitzy, cosmopolitan glamour, has a bus station that is as skeezy and unattractive as the rest of them. The basement flower felt like the catacombs of Snape’s dungeon, the concrete walls and floors were uninviting and cold, and the open doors allowed for the occasional stray dog or beggar child to wander freely. Meanwhile, random unassuming cities tucked in the middle of nowhere like Neuquen have inexplicably clean, immaculately kept stations that provide a pleasant surprise for travelers who have the privilege of passing through to use their facilities. 

Perhaps the only features accurately represented by the station are the city’s size and popularity among travelers.  To begin, Buenos Aires’ massive tri-level station has an elaborate color-coded system of dividing gates and ticket agents by regional sectors based on the destination. For example, if you were bound for Tucumán, you would head towards the “Northwest Argentina” zone (orange, I believe), which is then subdivided according to different bus companies. This system is further complicated during off-peak hours, when you arrive at your target location, only to find a sign taped to the window directing you to a sister counter in another zone. It’s not unlike arriving at your gate at the airport, only to find that the waiting area for your flight has been moved to the terminal on the other side—the only difference being that none of the bus stations have the handy golf cart drivers, moving floors, or underground shuttle systems that can expedite the commute. About the closest thing I have encountered to that level of technological convenience is that Cordoba, Argentina’s next largest city, has escalators connecting some of its floors (but just some of them). This behemoth station is a four-story monstrosity with a labyrinthine design that does little to facilitate its high traffic. Instead, I found myself in a maddening cycle of crossing bridges, going up and down stairs, following arrows, and essentially finding myself back where I started – it felt like being in a living Escher painting. This mayhem is compounded by the fact that despite its size, there is very little diversity among the sectors. It’s an endless cycle of the exact same cafes and restaurants with the exact same signs, with waiters wearing the exact same uniforms, serving the exact same food. Needless to say, after hours of travelling and sleep deprivation, it is easy to get disoriented.

Cordoba's station is like a less Inception-y version of this 
Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, you have the cities that are too small to justify a central bus terminal. Usually there are only a handful of bus companies that pass through, so they will drop you off directly at their ticketing station. There is rarely a waiting area or information desk (or bathroom!), so you’re on your own as far as finding your way into the city, getting food, finding housing, etc. Some of the routes which primarily serve locals go one step further. Rather than having an actual building which serves as a station, there is just a desultory bench or decrepit little tin structure on the side of the road. Occasionally, I have seen passengers who flag down the bus from places on the highway which are completely unmarked. I have yet to figure out what establishes these locations as actual “stops,” and fortunately, I have never been put in the situation to find out.

El Bolson bus "station" 
As hinted at before, however, due to the freak cold snap that swept through Argentina in July, I was forced to spend my first night at a bus station.  The irony of the story, however, is that we didn’t technically have to sleep there. All the buses for that night were suspended, that fact wasn’t changing. What surprised me, however, was that the bus companies and conductors were generously offering passengers the chance to sleep on the heated bus. Seeing as how the initial plan was to take an overnight bus anyway (not to mention that we were already experts at the fine art of bus-dozing), that offer did not seem like an altogether awful compromise.  It was actually much better than expected, and we had every intention of accepting this plan.
We just wanted to eat dinner first. And again, wonders never cease, the bus companies were providing hot meals for all the passengers who were stranded at the station. Most of the passengers were just eating on the bus, but having just freshly arrived from an earlier bus, we decided to stretch our legs and make ourselves comfortable in the station's restobar. July 19th was el Día de los Amigos (seriously, any excuse for a holiday here), and we thought that our companionship was worth celebrating. Plus, we just really wanted a drink. So we thought a bottle of beer and a little dessert would be a fine accompaniment to our respectable little TV dinner of stir-fried rice.
Our Friendship Dinner
If I had the choice to pick a city in Argentina to be stuck in for the night, Esquel (population 28,000) would not have been at the top of my list. This observation is based on the fact that aside from the casino down the street, the restaurant in the bus station bar may have been one of the more happening places to be. The café was a fairly large room, complete with a projector screen, audio equipment, tacky Christmas lights, and a chalkboard that promised live music on Thursdays (alas it was a Monday). Nevertheless, the atmosphere was much upbeat than your average bus station, and infinitely better than being stuck in a bus full of sleeping babies. Initially, the plan was to strategically exhaust ourselves in order to pass out on the bus. It was working splendidly - we were laughing and enjoying eachother’s company, we were well-fed and in high-spirits, plus we had the luxury of using a normal-sized bathroom whenever we wanted. At about 2:30 AM we finally decide to turn in for the night and head to our bus. It was then that realized that we had been locked out. What we hadn’t considered was that it was only the passengers who would be sleeping on the bus-- not the drivers. Miscalculation. The other passengers couldn’t have let us in if they wanted to. With no other options, we headed back to the station, picked a spot away from the windows, spread our blanket on the floor, put on as many layers as possible, secured our backpacks to a nearby bench,  and lay down for some fitful, chilly sleep. 
We spent the night under that bench
All things considered, we made the best of a bad situation, and truth be told, it could have been much, much worse. Although neighboring cities like Bariloche and El Bolson had more going for them touristically, their open air bus stations would have forced us to find hostels for the night. That said, sleeping on the floor of a bus station (even one with a roof and doors) is just another of those romantic, rugged, thrilling backpacker fantasies that gets you some marginal street cred among other travelers. Once you cross it off your bucket list, though, you never really have a desire to repeat it.