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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙂