Amy Marcitta Rood, 24, never sought the security of a degree, job, 401(k), marriage and kids.
She took quite a different path from her Monroe home.
“I found my love, which has become my life,” Amy said. “My parents are behind me 100 percent and actually encourage me to just live my dreams and not feel like I need to follow the same route as everyone else.”
Travel is her life. She leaves in June to go to Guatemala, then on down to Panama, to volunteer as a mountain guide, scuba diver and build homes.
“I taught English in Brazil, worked in the rain forest, worked on the Greek islands, you name it. Every ounce of travel has changed and amplified my life, leaving me only to aggravate over how many people have no idea how much beauty the rest of the world holds.”
As a child, she always wanted to go to boarding school and never got homesick at summer camp.
She sent her weekly allowance to animal rescue shelters, and ached for the homeless people who slept on the side of the road.
After sampling college, and driving to Mexico to build a house in Tijuana, she went to Brazil to teach English to children who live on the streets.
“Not only did I love the idea of traveling and using teaching methods as an outreach, but I fell in love with the art of travel itself, the way it always kept me inspired.”
She also sampled the world’s largest party, Carnivale in Brazil, and danced the samba until the wee hours with her Brazilian boyfriend.
Next, she was off to Ecuador to protect the rain forest.
After a five-hour bus ride to a small town, she hitched a ride in the back of a truck for another three hours in the jungle. There were children on her lap, dead chickens that were about to become someone’s dinner, and branches hitting her in the face.
Luckily, she ran into American students at a medical clinic and stayed with them.
“I saw amazing animals and reptiles, a spider the size of a dinner plate, you name it. We would hike endlessly each day, climb waterfalls, learn about nature and what we can do to preserve it, swim, watch for snakes, build medicinal plant gardens, learn Spanish, go on nighttime-reptile explorations and pray we wouldn’t find obscene critters in our sleeping bags.”
To pay for her adventures, including visiting nine countries in Europe in seven months, she worked two jobs back at home.
Her mother, Maureen Wiegand of Monroe, said it takes her a month after her daughter leaves on an adventure to settle into a routine.
Amy leaves in June for Central America. There is an AIDS outreach program and holistic healing to explore.
“This upcoming trip will be harder for me as a mother because I am aware of civil war occurring in at least one of the countries she will visit,” Wiegand said. “When she goes on trips, she has an agenda and knowing that brings relief because it’s for a good cause.”
Demanding that young people follow the normal route of college, marriage and kids is wrong for parents, Wiegand said.
“I accept her for the desires of her heart and parents need to learn this. We are in an unhappy society that’s craving the answers for happiness. The answer all along has been in helping others and our environment,” she said.
Her daughter will be in Central America for about a year.
To change the world, you must know the world, Amy said.
She sees herself taking a more traditional path some day, she said. I expect the lucky man will be, or will become, well traveled.
Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.