Things I lost
I lost two pairs of prescription glasses. One pair I lost in Amman, Jordan. They were super cute Ray Ban sunglasses, big and sort of Jackie O. I really liked them, and I had them for about five years. So they were ready to be replaced. But still they looked good on me and they fit well.
I lost another pair that was a kinda hip subtle cat eye by a big designer. They had a tortoise shell treatment on the outside of the stems with a fun stripe on the inside. They were really the most hip glasses I had ever bought, but frankly I didn’t think they were too flattering. It was just a choice I made to try to seem less middle aged and more “with it”.
I lost my excitement/anxiety upon arrival in a new destination. At first each new destination greeted me with confusion, concern, managing logistics and an overall feeling of stress but not totally in a bad way just stress like excitement or something. Then we arrived in Quito, Ecuador on the third leg of our journey. I didn’t feel much of anything. Just kinda tired and like what we were doing (sitting in a cab going to our hotel) was familiar. Initially, when we began our journey, the whole cab in a foreign country was intimidating. In addition to telling the driver where we wanted to go in a language not English and negotiating price we also had to worry about express kidnappings which I am sure are totally made up like razor blades in Halloween candy. The World Wide Web has made it possible for all of us to learn about things that don’t exist at lightning speed. But of course we weren’t kidnapped and we always arrived at our destination.
The worst thing that happened in a cab was paying $5.00 US for a four block ride. But it was uphill and raining (a deluge) so there you go and honestly I didn’t even feel bad about the rip off pricing because we were in Ingapirca and at about 11,000 feet in altitude or something so walking uphill in general seemed unfun.
I lost my eggplant colored pashmina scarf in Vienna. But I brought it because it was my least favorite. But I did make Brad retrace our steps after a pretty full day of museuming. I will never see it again. But hopefully some lovely lady or gentleman can make use of it, even if the color is pretty awful.
I learned that neither Brad nor I are very good at Spanish or any other language, but that if we try hard enough we can be understood.
I learned to be very flexible. Things almost never go the way you think they will when traveling but if you go with it, things nearly always work out one way or the other.
I learned to take public transportation everywhere and it’s no big thing.
I learned that flushing toilet paper isn’t the thing to do in places of the world and I learned that I can experience a weird kind of joy when flushing toilet paper is allowed.
I learned that most people don’t work from the crack of dawn well into evening. In many places businesses don’t open until ten or they are open when they are open and closed when they are closed. Often while communities basically shut down to celebrate holidays. In some places services are not available on holidays or during the off season.
Things I found
I found that hot water is hit or miss. Most of time we had hot water when showering but I would guess 15-25% of the time there was no hot water for showers.
I also found that sometimes the right hand shower knob is for hot, but I never once found this until it was my last night stay. We had many cold showers in the past year.
I found out that sometimes when it comes to shower knobs both Brad and I aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.
I found it odd that sometimes we were fascinating strangers and very interesting to the local population, so much so that they asked us to be in their family vacation photos. So weird.
I found nearly all the people we have encountered to be delightful and really helpful and that they always smile back when you smile first.
I found I can speak to one other person and almost no one else for nearly a year, but I really after so long I want to say hello to another person who is a woman that will laugh when I make a joke.
I found that cockroaches and rats don’t just come out after dark and when they come out in the daytime they are always pretty huge and disgusting and not afraid of humans.
I found that travelers diarrhea happens and is totally manageable.
I found that GatorAid tastes different in other places.
I found that the USA has some of the best sidewalks in the world and much of the rest of the world has really shitty sidewalks. Often sidewalks have big holes or posts sticking up, or they stop abruptly or they have very high steps. Dealing with sidewalks with a rolly bag is frustrating and one of the things that made me feel like I had had enough of travel.
Things I’ve seen
I saw a ship wreck on the coast in Greece.
I saw the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.
I saw some of the most remarkable graffiti imaginable.
We saw people in traditional clothing in nearly every country we visited and it was delightful.
I saw so many castles, museums and historic sites I can’t count them all.
I saw Petra, Jordan.
I saw Torres del Paine.
I saw many flamingos.
I saw wild monkeys and parrots and many Darwin’s rhea which are big flightless birds.
I saw the Sassi in Materra, Italy.
I saw Cappadocia, Turkey.
I saw glaciers in Canada, the USA, southern Chile and Argentina.
I crossed the equator several times but I didn’t see it because it can’t be seen specifically.
I saw the Galapogos Islands.
I saw things I can’t unsee
I can’t unsee human suffering. The really hard part of travel. People live in poverty, they have disability, they struggle and clearly they have little hope for solving the difficulty of their lives. We saw many people begging who had oozing sores on their very swollen legs. Burn victims with no arms or legs, blind and begging. We saw child labor a lot. We saw a girl of perhaps 12 years old who would soon be in labor with her child because she was far advanced in her pregnancy. This upset more than mostly anything else we saw.
I can’t unsee a lot of road kill. Dogs, squirrels, birds, snakes, even a cow.
I can’t unsee massive amounts of pollution. It was visible on the air we breathed and the massive piles of trash on the sides of the roads. Choking and smelly I also can’t unsmell the pollution either.
I can’t unsee a man lean over a garbage bin eating his breakfast like it was a delicious feast.
I can’t unsee a small boy chase away a dog from a discarded heap of trash so he could himself eat it.
I can’t unsee many dogs who were dying or had bad or broken legs.
But we never saw violence. Once in Trieste, Italy we saw a man throw a loud temper tantrum in Italian. He seemed scary and loud but that was it. No hitting, no rock throwing. Just cranky yelling.
What about my future
My future will be shaped by all I have seen and done. I am more knowledgeable now but also less excited about the rest of the world. I am more appreciative of the USA even though I am still reading the news and that seems pretty depressing.
I will definitely continue to meditate, something I have been practicing regularly while traveling.
I hope my future includes good health. I have been fortunate that I stayed healthy for the past year with our spotty diet and inconsistent exercise. Now that we are home we hope to increase our healthy food consumption and incorporate a regular fitness routine. This more than anything is clearly important for me for my happiness.
I have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks as Brad and I settle in Portland. I feel that my future is bright and I am really excited to live a settled life versus a nomadic life.
I am excited to be near my family and to meet new friends and begin to be part of a community again.