Thursday, July 14, 2011
Coming home wasn't easy, especially when you are delayed in Houston, Texas of all places! I've been gone for 13-months, in 35 different countries, and Homeland Security doesn't even bat an eye- humm, go figure. Yes, my time in those sanctioned countries was lovely! ;-)
Of course my family and friends were happy to welcome me home.
First stop- Philadelphia
Next stop- New York
Of course I had to catch up with all the yummy NYC food (really the only NYC thing I missed) and my great NYC friends (who I did miss). I was really nervous about returning to New York fearing I would instantly be stressed and impatient, but I'm happy to report it wasn't able to shake my new mellowness. In fact, it didn't really feel so manic.
Believe it or not, I really didn't mind being homeless living out of a backpack, but it was nice to get a little bit of my old life back (and some clothes from storage). And thankfully Victoria was able to return my hair to it's proper color!
For those that are curious if I got what I was looking for from this trip, I thought I would sum up my feelings. To be fair, I wasn't really looking for anything in particular so it was pretty easy to achieve that goal!
First, my favorites:
Favorite Places- Funny enough, my favorite places seem to be those where the people live under terrible, oppressive governments, yet still manage to be lovely and generous-- Burma and Cuba. Perhaps it is also because these countries are less touristic so I got a sense of genuine life.
Favorite Region- SE Asia. I just love this part of the world- great, hard working people, yummy food, it's cheap and so different from our Western existence. Refreshing!
Most Spectacular (Natural)- Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, the sand dunes of the Namibian desert, Mt. Everest and Turkey's Cappadocia and Pamukkale
Most Spectacular (Man-Made)- Burma's Bagan, Cambodia's Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Great Wall of China
Best Food- Come on, Italy of course! Top meal goes to Antica Osteria della Fragoletta in Mantua--- ah, that panna cotta with zinfandel and strawberries still makes me salivate! Those meals at the vineyard were also pretty incredible, too bad I can't replicate them now :-(
Best Nightlife- Budapest, Argentina and Cuba definitely top that list
Best Shower- The Gibbon Experience tree house shower, there is nothing like it anywhere
Funniest- Chasing down my bus on a motorcycle in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia
Most Bazaar- The fire balloon festival in Burma- fireworks up close look pretty different
Most Exhilarating- Being face-to-face with an enormous silver back gorilla in Rwanda and the perfect bungee dive over Victoria Falls
Proudest- Reaching Mt. Everest Base Camp in Nepal with a group of amazing women (and men, but the women were more amazing ;-)
.... and #1- ALL my new friends around the world!!!!
People are genuinely good. I traveled, mostly alone, to 35 countries with virtually no problems. Strangers throughout the world really looked out for me. The people of Rwanda checking my ticket to make sure I was boarding the correct bus. The little boy in Cambodia whisking me away from my hugger? The taxi driver in Colombia who found us a safe bus and then practically held our hands. While they may not have material things they are kind and have a generosity of spirit.
Everything works out when you don't have a plan. I finally learned to be happy in the moment with no set expectations and really enjoyed life as it presented itself. It's must less frustrating! Although I over planned Africa, I am glad the rest of the trip was open since it allowed me to visit all sorts of unexpected and amazing places, some of which ended up being my favorites.
Phare Ponleu Selpak if I had somewhere to be, and I would have missed out.
We have NOTHING to complain about. Ours lives are pretty sweet and for the most part we've chosen to complicate our lives and can also choose to simplify them. There is NO reason to be unhappy-- find your passion, figure out what makes you happy and do it!
I am afraid of nothing, except maybe the uncertainty of my future. ;-)
It's liberating not being defined by 'what you do', or identifying yourself that way, and just being comfortable with who you are.
Even with Obama, people still hate Americans, with many Brits thinking we are all stupid (yes, amazingly rude and close minded, but true). To be fair, we don't help ourselves with the popularity of stupid people like Sarah Palin and TV shows that glamorize the ignorant (e.g., Jersey Shore). We really need to have more pride! (Wow, I sound like Dad-- am I getting old?)
But wait, I am not done yet, I still need to see the U S of A! :-)