A guide to being an awesome and inspiring Luminista!!

Being Horribly Sick and Incredibly Enlightened:
A Story Guide to Complete Positivity and Awesomeness

As Lumanistas, and seekers of new terrain and experiences, it is important that we find the light in any situation. Travel has the capability to make one feel physically and mentally uncomfortable with its many twists and turns, challenges, and unexpected conditions. Yet, this is one of the most incredible parts of travel, because in the moments of overcoming these uncomfortabilities, a Lumanista’s true strength and power can be revealed.

Not to say that the process of recognizing one's vulnerabilities and fears to which create uncomfortability is easy­it is one of the hardest parts­ and then throwing them aside in exchange for light and positivity, can be even harder. But there is a process individual to every Luminista, that if she puts her mind to it, she can find and use to accomplish great things. Let me share a few of my own moments from Project Lumina’s 2016 program planning trip, when travels little tricks tried to trip me.

During the test­run the of homestay program with the organization Rainbow Girls in Tipitapa, where you will eventually stay too, I decided to fall intensely ill with a stomach bug. Leaving the rather distasteful details aside, I was sicker than I had been in a very long time, and in a place drastically unfamiliar to my normal sick conditions (the family lived in an abandoned jail house with no running water and plywood locks for the doors). Additionally, the members of the family and I could only communicate with compromised spanglish small­talk. And on top of this, the mother of the home had just gotten gout surgery, and while I was moaning in sickness, across the wall, she was moaning in pain­ both left to share the single toilet, which you had to poor bowls of water down to flush.

The physical odds were not in any of our favor­ my physical body was wreaking havoc on itself, the physical surroundings were not ideal for sickness or surgery, and it was clear that nobody in that household was going to sleep well, hearing the sounds of my sickness, and of the mother’s recovery. But , and yes there is a but, there was light.

There was light in my fellow Luminista and Rainbow Girl who stood by my side the entire night­ holding my head and rubbing my back every time I was sick on the hour, draining

themselves as much as I was being drained. There was light in the chaotic­painful smiles exchanged between myself and the mother as we subconsciously bonded between being in so much pain that nothing else mattered but the hands that were supporting us. There was literally light as I shocked myself multiple times on the two fuse wires that needed to be connected to provide illumination of the toilet room. There was light in having no technology, and of being able to fully reflect and have awareness of myself and those around me. And there was light in offerings of stranger’s beds the next day, in the electrolyte water they bought me, and reminded me to drink on a strict timely manner. There was light in it all­ if I was willing to see it, there was light.

Although I cannot express my bodily pain in any other phrase except for being hit by a train, I can express how incredibly grateful I was for the timing of my sickness, because believe it or not, this was indeed my favorite part of the trip. Thank you, for allowing me to be sick on this day, with these people, in this place­ because there is nothing like sickness, that makes for a more raw and humanistic experience. That rids of all fears and discomforts (like my early trip fears of bugs and language barrier) because I knew, comfort wise, I was at my worst and yet, I was still doing it . I was doing the thing that you do when you make the best out of the worst situation. I was doing the thing where you reduce your surroundings to essentials only because in those moments that is all you need. I was doing the thing where I realized my own willpower and strength were the key to a successful trip and healthy mind. I was doing it all, and I was learning that I was ready for anything travel wanted to throw at me­ I was doing the Luminista thing.

Doing the Luminista thing is one of the most important parts of creating a Lumina trip that is fruitful, challenging, fulfilling, and life changing. Whether it is in the surf, the sleep you get, the potential sickness, the people you meet, the falls you take, the bugs you see­ keeping positivity and light in mind will give you the ability conquer all your uncomfortability and fears, and to gain so much more than you could ever bargain for.

Light hides in everything.

Zoya Sarow, Luminista 12’ and 16’