Never before have I stuck to a New Year’s resolution as I did this year. Maybe, that’s because the resolution I made was an easy one to keep. Rather than making resolutions to lose weight or go to the gym more often, I promised to live each day as I do while traveling, keeping a few goals in mind for the year. Those goals were to travel solo, visit Africa, take more chances, be more adventurous, and make more friends. It’s only been six months, but each of these has either been accomplished, or will be accomplished, in a matter of weeks.
A few weeks ago, Jeff and I went hiking on the Hudson River in Upstate New York, and I was immediately hooked. I couldn’t wait for the chance to hike again, and as soon as we realized we had a free Saturday, we jumped at the opportunity.
This time, we headed to Palisades Interstate Park, an area that goes along the border of New York and New Jersey. Here, the trails run along cliffs that drop down to the Hudson River, with views of Manhattan and Weschester, including both the George Washington and Tappan Zee Bridges.
There are exactly fifty-six days until I leave for Africa, not that I’m counting. But, this is the adventure I’ve been waiting years to make a reality, and that reality is feeling a bit more real as the days draw closer.
For months I’ve been telling people that this summer I will be heading to Africa. Each time it felt like a dream. But now, all of a sudden, summer is here; the days are longer, kids are playing out on the street, school is coming to an end, and I am fully preparing for my trip.
In all honesty, I am not the ocean’s biggest fan. Sure, I’ll snorkel, go banana boating, and float around for a while, but each time all I am thinking about is what lurks beneath. So I’ve found, that as I get older, I’m much more content with my feet in the sand and a drink in my hand.
That being said, scuba diving is something I have always wanted to try, and as much as I fear the ocean, along with the creatures that live in it, I am completely intrigued by the world that lives below the surface. Which is why, I have decided to start my scuba certification.
Over the past few months, I have been on a mission to keep myself busy between travels. I am not one who easily gets over what I see and where I’ve been, or forgets the people I’ve met along my travels. It takes weeks and months for me to fully recover from a trip. When I return home, the post-travel blues hit hard, and hold on to me for a long time.
To recover, I constantly try to surround myself with my travels. After visiting Fiji, I decorated my classroom’s bulletin board with pictures from the village we visited, and made connections to the book we were reading, Three Cups of Tea. Then after last year’s trip to Vietnam and Thailand, I put pictures from the trip around my classroom, and tried teach my students lessons that I had learned from my journeys. Even now, almost every day, I try to wear something I acquired while traveling – a necklace, a scarf, a shirt, anything to remind me of my travels. But, in many ways these actions make me miss being on the road even more.
Many years ago, my favorite college professor told my class that great things can only be accomplished once we were able to go outside of our comfort zone into what he called the courage zone. This courage zone was a place where fears were faced and risks were taken. It was a place where true growth could occur.
Even though I was young at the time, I could only imagine myself living a life where I was in the courage zone, not sitting on the sidelines watching life go by. The years after college didn’t pan out as I had expected, and there were many interruptions in my plans to live life the way I had thought I would. But, over the past three years, that attitude from sophomore year of college has come back, and I finally have been able to challenge myself more. Now I can honestly say that I live more of my life in the courage zone than in my comfort zone. And, most of that has been done thanks to travel.
Earlier tonight, this video of traffic in Saigon was posted on Travelfish, and it brought me right back to Vietnam.
It’s hard to believe that this is the same traffic that overwhelmed me and left me vowing never to cross the street. Here that same traffic is a fantastic art form. Photographer Rob Whitworth does an incredible job of bringing the city to life, especially when there are no real words to describe it.
To truly understand the magic of Vietnam, you have to visit, but this video brought me right back to the summer. Enjoy the beauty of Saigon!
While this conversation isn’t one I’ve had with my parents, it is one I’ve had with other people I’ve encountered. When I tell them I’m going away, they often warn me and tell me to be safe. But, it just shows how close-minded they are about the world we live in.
This goes along with my post from the other day, Why You Shouldn’t be Afraid to Travel, because I strongly believe that you are in no more danger abroad than you are at home.
There are a million excuses one can come up with on why not to travel. Even just the other day, my Mom said, “If you think about anything too much you’d never do it. Take travel for instance.” And, she’s right, which is why so many people don’t travel. Traveling around the world can be a daunting thought, but that’s no excuse not to do it.
This, I feel, is especially true for those living in America. When I travel, and tell people that I’m American, they always respond with, “People from your country don’t make it over here too often.” Which may seem to be a generalization, but in many cases I see it myself. Rarely, anyone I meet abroad is from America, instead the vast majority of people seem to be from England, Ireland, and Australia. In fact, in February, CNN reported that only 30% of Americans even have passports. Continue reading