08.24.2014 - 10.15.2014
Item: Khaki cargo pants (1)
Cause of Death: Turtle cage
Place of Rest: Ecuador
Item: Lightning-to-SD Card iPad adapter cord (1)
Cause of Death: Early arrival of taxi, leading to careless last minute packing
Place of Rest: Ecuador
Item: Ecuadorian wrist watch (1)
Cause of Death: Spontaneous battery death
Place of Rest: Turkey
Item: Roxy Flip-flops (single of pair)
Cause of Death: Enthusiastic international use
Place of Rest: Thailand
The journey is complete. I am home and have been for some time. It has been difficult to review these journal entries and its equally difficult for me to explain why that is. Looking at photos and reading the details of my travels, I find myself experiencing a hungering and aching wanderlust. I crave a return to the experiences that brought such joy, awe, and calm along with feelings of freedom.
The purpose of travel such as this is not only to enjoy the world and discover new lands, to meet new people, but also to glean lessons from those experiences. I came to several realizations. Everyone wants to show off their hometown. Even if they feel it does not compare to other areas, even if there are parts they are ashamed of, they want to share and let you see it through their eyes. It seems to share these places is to also share themselves. People want to connect with you as much as you want to connect with them.
People want to help. Genuinely, unselfishly, people will answer your questions on which street is best to take, what's the better museum to spend your time at, or what's the best restaurant to sample the local fish specialty.
When attempting to figure something out that you are unfamiliar with, embrace the unknown and do not fear the struggle. Realize that tomorrow you have the gift of hindsight and you may walk away with a funny story to share with others or a bit of knowledge to make you better prepared in the future.
When alone, you are not truly alone as you become more approachable. Others are more likely to initiate conversation. Although they may assume that you are sad or lonely, it is touching to see others reach out from a place of true kindness and offer themselves as a potential friend to pass the time. People will ask you about your family, show you photos of their grandchildren, offer the food off their plate, or assist in carrying a heavy bit of luggage. I repeat . . . people are good.
One of the more interesting lessons is do further research on whether or not toilet paper is to be thrown in the trash or to be thrown in the toilet. I did not realize how many septic systems I put in danger until it was far too late.
People often asked the moment I was most frightened or "weren't you afraid?" Without doubt, the moment of most fear was when my elephant I was riding in Thailand slipped in the mud and began to lose her balance. I had a spike of fear and adrenaline, following by bemusement as I realized "death by elephant" was a hell of a way to go out of this world. There's something to be said for traversing the continents of this world and to return home saying, "I felt welcomed and was unafraid."
The other question is "where was your favorite place?" How to choose? I fell in love with jungle life, sweating hard each day, laughing with friends by candlelight as the stars twinkled and exotic birds called out the open window. I fell in love with Pico Island of Portugal, imagining my ancestors and their life, eating fresh seafood, swimming in salt water pools, and exploring bits of volcanic earth. I fell in love with the fresh tart pomegranate juice of Turkey, the ancient "fairy tale chimneys" that I wandered through and imagined them twinkling at night. I fell in love with beachfront living in Thailand, with lush growth around me, outgoing people with welcoming smiles, a relaxed sense of self and delicious cuisine unique in it's own right. I fell in love with New Zealand, a land of complex and impressive public toilets, quiet long drives with large variances in both flora and fauna, the creative and peaceful nature of the people. I cannot choose. I cannot say. I love them all as there is always something to love and embrace with new adventures and new destinations.
In the future, I want to do it again. Another solo trip. In the future, I must do it again. I had planned for my 40th, but now I feel my 35th must be it. I cannot wait. I crave it. I ache for it. This "solo" experience was the most social of all.
Baan Arlhan Hostel in Chiang Mai
Baanchang Elephant Park in Chiang Mai
Dawn of Happiness in Krabi
North Gate Jazz Co-Op in Chiang Mai
Sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Sunday Night Market in Chiang Mai