If I had to come up with a theme for the past year, of course I’d mention learning Spanish. I’d talk about living here in Quito and opening and helping lead an office. About coaching others and about how I, myself, have grown from the experience.

On a personal level, however, when I consider the past year I will always think of one more thing: VOLCANOES.

This spring I spent a week backpacking around Guatemala with friends. We spent a night camping on the Pacaya volcano, poking sticks through the rocks below our feet to roast marshmallows on the molten liquid underneath us.

Incredible. Something I never thought I would experience. Eating a sticky, lava-browned marshmallow in a single bite. Laughing with my friends, knowing they thought the experience was just as crazy as I did.

A few weeks ago a couple of colleagues and I drove to Baños, Ecuador. We had heard that a volcano outside of town had been erupting and wanted to see it for ourselves.

I don’t know how to describe what it was like to watch the volcano explode, bright red chunks against a pitch black sky. The orange matter streaming down the side of the perfectly-conical mountain.

From the safety of an adjacent mountain we caught a few explosions before the clouds began rolling in. Each was marked by the realization that I had no idea whether the volcano would erupt again that evening.

So, this past year, in review: volcanoes, Spanish. The opportunity to watch an office grow from an idea to an operation running multiple projects in parallel. A slew of crazy experiences that I’m still trying to make sense of and that I’ll surely look back on with disbelief a year from now.