Monday, September 5, 2011

10 years ago...

About to board in Greensboro
(can you hear her sobbing through the space time continuum?)
As you all know, I have been feeling a little, er, long in the tooth lately. (If you have no idea what I am referring too click here for a little educational look back.) Discovering that this past weekend marked the 10th anniversary of my epic EPIC trip down under was sobering. How can it have been ten years since I boarded a plane with my friend Jenn to leave for eight long months of being adventurous far, far from home? That would have made me *gasp* 22. (Not to mention skinny with a fun haircut and nary a care in the world). I was fresh off of graduation and didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I had the rest of my life to work for the man (insert parental eye roll here.) Why not travel? When I found out three of my friends were going to backpack around Australia, I jumped on the opportunity. Endless summer, living out of a bag, traveling around like a gypsy? Yes please.

Wakey wakey...touring around New Zealand
Looking back at myself as a traveler, through the lens of an adult with a child, I gasp at the idiotic things we did. Like getting on a dude's boat to travel between islands in Fiji. Hitch hiking in Tahiti and riding in a water delivery truck. Walking through the jungle in Thailand with forest fires literally lapping at the edge of the trail (in retrospect, they probably call them jungle fires.) But we felt untouchable, safe in our little band of four. Not sure that would have helped us had we been sold into white slavery, but back then I had no worries. I also think we had the invincible, world by the balls feeling that only the young possess. I suppose we kind of did have the world, or at least the southern hemisphere, by the balls. It was ours for the taking, and take we did. I went skydiving and saw whales and penguins in New Zealand. I rode an elephant in Thailand and ate food cooked in a crock pot in a shack. I got insane food poisoning from food cooked in a crock pot in a shack. I petted kangaroos, held a wombat and a koala. I had a zookeeper ask me to please let go of the koala, my turn was over. I lived in an awesome flat in Sydney with my three best friends. I worked at a hostel. I got fired from a hostel. I played skip-bo almost every day for seven months. I took planes, trains, boats, barges, rafts, canoes, taxis and buses. I swam in the ocean in Fiji and drank kava kava out of a coconut shell. (Related news: Kava tastes like dirty foot water.) I partied all night in a club, dancing my tale off. I threw up in a trash can behind the desk at work with a lobby of people watching (classic case of cause and effect). I rang in the New Year in the Sydney harbor on a yacht and ate my birthday cake on an island in Fiji. It was seven months filled with moments, big and small, that changed my life. And I wouldn't trade one of them for anything else. Except maybe the barfing behind the desk. That one, I could have done without. And the food poisoning, that was a rough few days. But you get my point. Awesome time. Amazing. Ridiculous. EPIC.

Our version of The Wiggles
I feel so lucky to have had the experience of traveling. It is so important to understand the world outside of the tiny box we live in. There is so much out there to be seen, so many people to meet, and places to visit. Once that is added to your life experience, it is easier to grasp the idea of the global community. I had the luck to make friends with people from all over the world, some I still keep in touch with all these years later. I will encourage my kids to travel either as yound adults. (Until then they have to stay in their cages where mommy can see them at all times.) Besides life, travel is the greatest gift my parents gave me. I hope to be able to pass that along to Alice. I wnat her to go and see the world, far and wide. Then she can come home, become a respectable member of society who pays taxes, get married, and have her own babies. But epic travel first. Because Mommy says so.


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