One full year. On the move. Out of the USA. Living the Grand Adventure.
Yes it’s already been a year. So very much has happened. So many miles we’ve traveled. And I am not the same.
Living outside of the United States as an American creates such an amazing opportunity to really understand privilege and gluttony and consumerism. These words I use not only because I am guilty of these things but it is how much of the rest of the world sees Americans. Not flattering.
What is a surprise is when we are able to spend quality time with someone we meet in our travels and change their view of the average American. This means more to me than most anything else over the past year.
My eyes have been opened, looking back to the USA and my friends there, I now clearly see two kinds of people – those who embrace this image of Americans and cultivate it greedily, happily and knowingly, and those who acknowledge it but want to change it.
To each his own. I know both kinds. But as for me and my travels, there is only one way to
move forward in our travels and that is to do anything and everything to debunk the image. In my own little way – one human at a time. One country at a time. This is not what I expected when I started this journey but it is important to me now more than ever.
We get asked the same questions over and over, and always the first question is “what has been your favorite so far?”. It’s become a little joke. We keep telling each other we need to come up with an answer to this question. But we honestly don’t have a favorite. We have favorite things about every place we have been. We have things we disliked about many places. Mostly our favorite thing is the surprises and education we get from staying a long
time in a place and really feeling the culture, the food, the religion, the life of the place. That by far is our favorite thing. I’ve changed in my travel goals – loving the days we truly are not tourists, the days we are able to haltingly communicate in someone elses language, the days we blend in. Not the things I was expecting – but definitely
the most meaningful of all our “favorite” things.
We’ve learned most people are sincerely nice and helpful and interested in telling us about their country. They are proud and patriotic. And yet so many countries are oblivious to trash and litter and pollution and it can really be astonishing. Feral cats and stray dogs another big problem in so many countries – as a visitor you notice these things, all while being acutely aware that many people have very little and live on the street as well. In some countries people just can’t worry about dogs and
trash – they are just trying to find their next meal. It would be nice to see governments addressing all these issues. But, none of these things stop us from visiting these places. It is part of the Grand Adventure.
I’ve become more aware of the negative impact tourism has on many places and I am uncomfortable contributing to that. Europe is very different in 2017 than the first time I visited 1988. We are tourists some days, while other days we steer away to less traveled and under the radar destinations. But in a global world things begin to
feel the same – tchosky souvenirs start to look the same in Bulgaria and Morocco. Locally handcrafted? Not likely.
We’ve learned to sleep in beds hard and soft and eat every imaginable cuisine. We’ve learned food is a great introduction to culture and a great conversation starter but also a comfort when we feel a bit homesick. A good taco makes me happy when I miss our old life.
6 Mexican Restaurants in 4 countries
We embrace technology for communicating with our children and parents and for tracking so
much of our travel details. I do miss my kids but speak with them frequently and marvel at their own personal journey each is on. I think the coming Christmas season I’ll feel their absence the most.
Speaking of holidays, they go by in a blur. Other than Christmas last year in Thailand, most places
we have been,holidays have shown little consumerism and celebration. In the USA we embrace every little holiday from St. Patrick’s Day to Halloween and have our own unique set of holidays that we make a big to do over such as Thanksgiving and Fourth of July.
19 holidays abroad
Holiday celebrations in countries we have been in so far focus mostly on family and religion and food and almost not at all on buying things and decorations or gift giving. I think it used to be this way in America, but our focus is different now. As for me, I no longer want the gifts to give or receive. The experiences we are having are the best gift of all.
Sometimes a holiday sneaks up on us. Because we spend much of our time not even knowing what day or month it is. When it’s 85 degrees in February or 32 degrees in April my brain and body get confused. Am I above or below the equator? Is it winter or summer? What country am I in? What day is it? It’s actually a bit scary how often we have to stop and think about these simple questions.
I’ve learned how little you need in a day-to-day life
to feel satisfied. Although I did get pretty tired of the three sets of clothes I wore over and over on the Camino, in general I don’t desire more than what we currently have in our suitcase. It’s enough. I have what is comfortable and works for our life. I still have one pair of shoes in the suitcase that I’ve only worn twice in a year – the low black heel. I keep looking at those thinking I should throw them away.
Lost luggage once. Found luggage once.
I’ve learned to live without a clothes dryer and sometimes without a washing machine. No dishwasher, no movies, no American TV. Don’t miss it. Don’t need it.
I’ve also changed as far as what I would describe as “beauty ritual”. Water conservation in most
countries makes me realize I don’t need to shower and wash my hair every day as I used to. I no longer wear makeup (except on a rare occasion) and my hair is easy and manageable with a washing every few days. And nobody cares. Really. One more thing I can let go of for now at least (and I still get so many compliments on the grey).
3 hair cuts
Occasionally I have a nesting urge – when I miss my
house and garden – but it’s rare. Sometimes I see things I’d like to buy for a future home but I check myself. Sure the Moroccan rugs are stunning – but, I really don’t know what my next house will look like so I walk away. Save my money for an experience instead of a thing.
Our “home” over the past year, and actually over the past 19 months since we closed the door and walked away from our house in Gig Harbor, our home has been wherever we are at the moment. When people ask where we are from we say the United States, Washington or Seattle, depending on who we are talking to. And if we meet someone from the Pacific Northwest we say Gig Harbor. But really none of
those places are home. Where is home? Right this minute as I write this it’s Morocco. In a few days it will be Namibia. On Christmas it will be South Africa. Home is where I am with Arne at this moment.
63 other lodgings (boats, hotels, apartments, Kiwi Caravan and Albergues includes 41 nights on the Camino)
I read more than I ever have in my entire life. I walk more than I ever thought possible. Yoga is a very important part of our lives to keep us going. I challenge myself at almost 58 years old in ways I could never, would never have even considered at 28 or 38. I see myself in an entirely different way than I did just ten years ago. I am better, stronger, smarter, happier and more relaxed than at any other time in
This is not a coincidence. It is entirely by design.
I want to influence and encourage other people to seek happiness for themselves. Not my kind of happiness but yours – whatever that is. I ignore those who push negativity towards me – and yes they are out there. Masquerading as “friends” on Facebook while criticizing our life, our message, our politics our choices and our success. I don’t ask or expect everyone to understand this journey I’m on. But it’s not about you is it? It’s about us and it is exactly what we needed and when we needed it.
62 books read
20 pounds lost
2446 miles walked
And every day of this journey, nearly every minute of it and every mile has been spent with my best friend Arne. People have asked if we get tired of each other? Nope. In fact the opposite. We find we are the best companions – encouraging and collaborating better now than ever in our entire lives. It’s both a test and a testament to our relationship and how we have developed it and defined it over the years. We celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow as a matter of fact. Yes we do, it seems like we have been married forever, and
I hope forever is how long we will be together.
And now year two begins. Can I do this forever? I doubt it. Some times it’s exhausting and frustrating. Those times are infrequent though so I think I can do it for quit a while longer. So for the next six months we have ten more countries before heading back to the USA for a two and a half month visit. Then we will finish year two back in Europe and Africa. We are already toying with ideas for year three. But it’s a bit too soon. Let’s not get
The family last Christmas in Thailand
ahead of ourselves. Take it just a few months at a time is best.
Thank you for sticking with us this past year and continuing to love our blog because the blog is a labor of love for me. Tomorrow we fly to Namibia for ten days then on to South Africa where we plan to really relax for three weeks as we end 2017. A year for the record books!
One year. One fabulous year! Year two here we come!