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In New Zealand.

In New Zealand.

I have been reflecting on that very question since I returned home May 14th and frankly, I still don’t have the answer. This may or may not be my final post. I don’t know yet. I’ve also contemplated what to do with this blog. Specifically, will the blog take a different form? Maybe. 

So as I look at my monitor, I reflect on the 10 countries I visited (13 actually, if you count layovers) and am dumb founded on what to write. Maybe just dumb. Ha. I’ve seen a lifetime of memories in 4 months. I have traveled across 40 time zones, the international date line and equator on an epic voyage of over 28,234.069 miles. I’ve experienced tropical and sub-tropical heat, as well as severe cold, icy rain, and snow.  Mosquitoes have been my dinner companions and bed bugs have slept with me.

Me in front of the famous Sydney Opera House.

Me in front of the famous Sydney Opera House.

While traveling the world, I have taken over 16,000 photos, but only recorded a very small fraction of what my own two eyes saw.  Moreover, I have only seen a minuscule part of our planet . . . I read recently, “The world is not becoming homogenized, as critics love to assert.  The world is bigger than it ever was, because it is now within reach and no longer a pipe dream. We can now actually travel to its most remote corners and experience its most exotic charms.” I absolutely agree with this assertion. Yeah, I saw McDonald’s hamburger joints and Starbucks in just about every locale I visited, yet the real differences – the ones you can discern by chatting and interacting with the locals remain palpably different.  For example, when was the last time you saw a pack of dogs roaming your neighborhood? How about cows and goats on a major metropolitan street? How does your tap water taste? In Nepal, it can be lethal to a foreigner (seriously). Somewhat ironically, I have a hundred other places on my bucket list to see before I die, but the reality is that there will be thousands more I will never see.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Would I do it again? Knowing what I know now, yes and no. Sorry to equivocate, but it’s as honest as I can get. Unless you have gone on a trip like this – visit ten countries solo, with no more than 2-3 weeks stay in each – then you really have no idea about how much energy and motivation is necessary to complete something of this magnitude. I have mentioned in previous blog posts, that it would be relatively easy to complete if I was still in my 20s. I still believe that. However, at 58, I struggled at times to “wrap my mind” around the length of this journey. The first few countries I visited were easy to complete because my energy level was so intense.  In New Zealand, I recall doing multiple hikes in a day.  No sweat.

In Bangkok, Thailand with Paul.

In Bangkok, Thailand with Paul.

However, after I got sick with a chronic cough in Nepal and caught the flu in Istanbul, I was dragging for quite awhile. I really didn’t feel good physically until mid-April, when I SCUBA dived the Mediterranean in Greece.  Fast forward a couple of days later – I had my wallet stolen. I accepted what had happened, knowing that I still had my passport, no money had been stolen from my financial accounts, and I still had a couple of credit cards to get me through the rest of the trip.

Jigme and I in the Shambaling Hotel lobby, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Jigme and I in the Shambaling Hotel lobby, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Yet, I would be lying if I didn’t say that thoughts of “chucking it in” and returning to my home in Colorado didn’t cross my mind. My wallet being stolen numbed me and I prayed about what I should do. As most of you are aware, my wallet was returned to me by a good Samaritan, Tzonny Sipsas. This single incident buoyed my spirit, whereby I was able to not only complete my journey, but to again, have a wonderful, joyous time while doing so.

Mosaic Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

Mosaic Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

I guess what I am trying to articulate here, is that any journey, like life in general, has an “ebb and flow” to it, i.e., high and low points. This is what I am left with – I am so humbled for the unbelievable honor it has been to travel around the world. I was exposed to a wide variety of people, places and cultures that no book, documentary or class could ever equal. Other explorers took decades, if not their entire life, to accomplish such a feat. I have fulfilled a dream only others can imagine.  I met and made many new friends during my trip, both locals and fellow travelers. Likewise, I made many more new friends via this blog. Last, but not least, I was able to keep my family and friends informed along the way . . . reassuring them that I was safe during my journey. I am grateful beyond words for this experience and I will cherish it for rest of my life. Thank all of you for keeping me company!  🙂

In Athens, Greece.

In Athens, Greece.

In Rome, Italy.

In Rome, Italy.

Rodin museum In Paris, France.

Rodin museum In Paris, France.

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