A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: smweaver24

Traveling again. I have to try.

Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. - Dale Carnegie

I've decided to take a chance. Anyone who has read my last blog post knows that being home has been difficult. So, I've decided to attempt to travel again. And I'm doing it in a very interesting way.

I found a travel agency that is promoting a new campaign for a Chief World Explorer. The agency is fairly new (about 2 years), and the campaign is a way of branding itself. The Chief World Explorer will get to travel around the world for a year blogging, vlogging, and using social media to promote his or her activities, adventures and explorations. You also get to participate in voluntourism activities at every destination in an effort to leave the destination a little better than how you found it.

THIS. JOB. IS. AMAZING.

When I first saw the opportunity, I got excited and nervous. I didn't decide to go for it until about a week after learning of it. Making yourself vulnerable is a big risk - not to mention, what would happen if my boss saw the video. I thought, "I've never done anything like this before." But you know what? I didn't know I could travel around the world independently until I actually did it. And I can do this job. And I can do it well.

I'm outgoing, I enjoy writing, I enjoy being in front of a camera. And I love traveling. I'm doing this! And I know I'm perfect for it.

So, here it is. If you like the video, please like it on Jauntaroo's website. You can like it every day from every device (phone, home computer, laptop, work computer - these all count as separate votes) until SEPT 15th when the contest closes. Likes aren't the only decision factor, but every like helps as it proves you're engaging and people enjoy watching you.

Please share with your friends and family, as well. Every like is appreciated!

http://www.bestjobaroundtheworld.com/submissions/view/6269

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Posted by smweaver24 16:02 Tagged #jauntaroo #chiefworldexplorer Comments (0)

Being Home

It's a funny thing about comin' home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You'll realize what's changed is you. - Benjamin Button

We have now been home for a month - one whole month. I don’t know how we’ve been home this long. It feels like just yesterday we landed and stood confused in our apartment.

I read countless blogs before I left for our trip: where to go, how to pack, what to buy, what not to buy, how to budget, what to worry about, what not to worry about, what to eat, what not to eat, and even more ‘how to’s and ‘what not’s than you can imagine. But I haven’t taken the time to search for much literature on how to cope once you’re home. I think somehow I wanted to figure out my feelings on my own.

I’ve had a few people glare at me or make snarky remarks when I talk about how it’s strange to be home. They write me off as dramatic or spoiled when I use words like “cope” to explain how we’re doing now that we’re home. And that’s actually the most difficult part of being home: we struggle relating our emotions to people.

So, in an effort to better understand my emotions and our emotions - and in hopes of relating to those who have ever felt similarly - here is our list: Our feelings about being home.

No. 1 – Separateness

As I just mentioned, one of the hardest parts of being home is trying to relate our emotions to people who have never traveled independently and long-term.

Our couchsurfing host in Rio de Janiero, Paulette, sent me an email before our last day and told us to be patient with family, friends, co-workers, etc. once we got home. She said no one would really understand what we had just experienced.

People have of course been interested to hear our stories. But, we don’t have the proper words to convey just how amazing the experience was as a whole – the ability to be spontaneous, the awe of witnessing world wonders, the arguments, the coincidences, the people, the illnesses, the languages, the feeling of being lost, the wonder of creation. It’s impossible to convey just how amazing/incredible/spectacular our experiences really were when they are combined to make up our trip as a whole.

Then, I had one person make the comment that we must be so glad to finally be home. I told my best friend how I was struck by the remark – surprised, with no way to explain why. She sarcastically replied, “Oh yeah! I just had the most amazing and wonderful adventure of my life, and now it’s over. I’m so thrilled!” And I remember thinking, “Yeah, that’s it.”

Then, of course, there are those people who have asked us how we enjoyed our “European vacation.” Um, what?

No. 2 – Difference

It’s hard to explain to someone how you’re different when you do and say and “are” the same as you were before – seemingly, at least. But I know we are different people. The way we communicate, the way we love each other, the way we think and see the culture we live in – those things have changed. How? I’m not sure how to explain that.

The closest I can get is a magnet on my mother’s refrigerator. I remember asking for it as a child. It has a squirrel on it and reads “Love stretches you and makes you big inside.” I remember picking it out thinking the squirrel was funny and the saying meant something. Somehow, that magnet explains it.

No. 3 – Grief

I didn’t diagnose this feeling until a couple of days ago. It dawned on me just after dinner with David that I felt like I had lost something.

David and I had just finished talking about an email he sent to me the day before. He sent me Nat Geo’s Photo of the Day and it was Copacobana in Rio de Janeiro. He said in his email, “We’ve seen THAT view. We’ve stood on THAT beach… and now I’m sad.” I read his email and immediately felt his emotion. We had lost something – an experience, a time in our lives. It’s over. And we’ve found ourselves at different times grieving our travels wishing we were in the midst of them again.

No. 4 – Freedom

A friend called it “drudgery.” How I hate drudgery. There is no such thing when you’re moving from place to place, exploring new things, meeting new people and pushing yourself consistently outside of your comfort zone. But the ole eight to five is one monotonous lifestyle – especially in comparison.

And I’ve come to believe that freedom is really the abundance of time and most importantly, the ability to control your share of it.

On a trip of this nature, your time is really your own. You aren’t restricted by a schedule unless you want to be. If you had a late night, then sleep. If you want to watch the sun rise, then wake up early. It’s just that simple.

This, I believe, is what I miss the most. I miss making decisions on the spur of the moment and feeling like I am able to say “why not?” and do something spontaneous because my day is as wide open as I want it to be. You really get accustomed to moving at the pace of our own internal rhythm and doing and going where ever it is you want to do and go. That just doesn’t take much adjusting.

No. 5 – Reconciliation

Finally, there is one thing aspect of being home that I’m not sure how to reconcile. All the other feelings make sense to me. But how I can be extremely grateful for something and still be so incredibly thirsty for more at the same time.

I have never in my life been more appreciative of something. Words cannot express how grateful and happy I am that David and I got this chance to do something extraordinary. But our travels didn’t quench some thirst I had. It made me much thirstier. I long to see more. Traveling made me realize that we only saw roughly 5% of the world, as far as the number of countries goes. But, then again, it’s way more than the vast majority of people in the world ever get to see. And as a few people have told me, at least I got to travel in the first place. And I agree with that – whole-heartedly.

So how those two emotions, gratitude and yearning, can exist together – and simultaneously –I don’t know. All I know, is they do.

Overall, I believe these aspects of being home are normal. I don’t think I’m crazy, I don’t think I’m unique or odd. From the few people I’ve talked to who have taken similar trips, they felt very similarly when they returned home.

I know it’s mostly about being in an adjustment period and that eventually things will more “normal” and less weird, less strange, less new and less different. So, I expect and I hope that these things will lesson with time. But for now, they are our reality and we’re “coping” with them as best we can :)

I got a lot of great information before leaving home from Nomadic Matt. He's one of the few bloggers who has written about the culture shock of coming home. I found his article after writing this post of my own. I'm glad because it allowed me to iron out my own feelings before being influenced. But his personal experience is definitely worth sharing (and if for nothing else, it shows me that truly, our emotions aren't crazy) I also decided to steal the Benjamin Button quote he uses in his article http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/the-culture-shock-of-coming-home/

Posted by smweaver24 17:42 Comments (7)

Staring

"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow." - Lin Yutang

David and I parked the car at our apartment complex. We put on our packs, both front and back, for the last time on our 2013 RTW trip. We walked slowly up the stairs to our second floor apartment, almost like we were afraid of it. We unlocked the door and just barely peaked inside. We carefully walked in but only a few steps. And then we stared.

I stared at the clean carpet taking the space between the couch and the fireplace. Did our living room get bigger? I don’t remember it being this big.

We crept in a little further. I craned my neck and looked at the balloons that had deflated while we were gone: a birthday balloon from my 24th in February celebrated two weeks before we left and a dolphin balloon given to me by a friend at work. Both were flat and dead on the floor.

I turned to my right and looked curiously into the kitchen. I turned back around to have a different view into the living room. That’s our couch. It’s still there - all red and big and ours. How did that living room get bigger?

I meandered back into the living room and looked at the pictures on the mantle. I printed those. I framed them. I arranged them on the mantle. I thought, “Now I’ll need new ones.”

I read the black canvas on the mantle that my friend Darcie gave me. It read in bold white letters:

HAVE ADVENTURES,
SMELL THE ROSES,
BE KIND TO YOURSELF,
GO FOR LONG WALKS,
DAYDREAM,
CREATE SOMETHING,
EXPLORE,
TELL STORIES,
LOOK AT THE STARS,
IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD.

And I thought, “I’ve done all those things.”

David and I continued to stand in the living room - lost. Both of us were trying to explain what we were feeling. I said I felt like it was a ghost – the apartment was a ghost. It felt like something I had seen in a dream. It didn’t feel like I once lived there, worked there, played there. I even said those things out loud to David to remind myself, “We lived here. We worked here. We played here.” I said them though, confused, that they had actually happened.

I was flooded with memories of how life was before we left, the struggles we had faced with bad bosses and the boredom I dealt with from “normal” life. I knew all those things had happened – and even not that long ago. But somehow, they felt so far away.

We walked through the rest of the apartment. I thought about how lucky we were to have a washer and dryer. I looked at my wedding dress in its bag hanging in the laundry room and the vacuum cleaner next to it.

When I got to the bathroom, I glared at the vanity. Was it always that cream color? It looks so clean. Why is it so clean?

I looked behind the door and was blown away by all the toiletries I own. I have a full size stick of deodorant. That's strange. And I have a hair dryer, a straightener and a curling iron. Not to mention the hot rollers under the sink that are also surrounded by toiletries.

When I looked into our bedroom, I asked David if our bed had always sat that high. Why was it so high? I paced from my side of the bed to David’s side of the bed over and over asking David if our bedroom has also grown larger since we left.

I didn’t even walk into my closet. I peeped in briefly without turning on the lights already flabbergasted and overwhelmed by the amount of clothes I own.

After we walked ourselves through the apartment, we just stood in the living room again… staring.

I believe this painstaking account of our return home is important. Coming home to the same apartment as we left it was weird. Very weird. And next time, if there is a next time, I don’t think we’ll keep our same place – because we are not the same people. And there is a small fear in me that things will be as they were before we left and that somehow it will be as if we never had our adventure. David will soon be working for a new boss but for the same company. And I will return to my previous position with the same company. I don’t know how things won’t return to how they were before we left. But I know they can’t. Somehow, David and I will have to find new rhythms and new habits and new grooves.

I’ve had a few people give me much-appreciated advice about going home. One piece of advice came from a friend who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. She said she experienced a type of postpartum depression after coming home. She said eventually she was able to find a new rhythm but not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about the trail. Another piece of advice came from a couchsurfing host in Rio de Janeiro who told us to be patient with our family and friends. She reminded us that no one has any idea what we just did and what we just experienced.

These words of encouragement aren’t exactly “cure alls” but they did at least warn me. I knew I would be sad and that having those feelings would be normal. I am figuring the sudden panic spells I'm having wanting to leave again are most likely, not, out of the ordinary. And I’ve tried to be patient when people have told me that I must be so relaxed now after a 4-month vacation (although, I do want to ask those people if they’ve ever slept in an airport or hostel during their vacations).

I guess I get to learn again how to function in American society and how to make money. The upside of this is that I can wash my clothes whenever I want and wear something other than the seven shirts I can fit into my pack. I can even wear something other than my Chacos (but I probably won’t be doing that).

Posted by smweaver24 20:24 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Today

I don't know how it happened, and I honestly have no clue where the time went. I don't know how today wound up being the end of our trip. Four months sounds like such a long time.

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But somehow our 4-month trip has turned into just today.

David and I talked about it last night. David said that at home he would often say, "Oh this happened last month" and the time felt so short because every day was the same. But now, when we say, "last month," we realize we were in a completely different country having completely different experiences. One month ago we were in Paris about to go to Berlin. We had not had our most recent experiences yet: we had not experienced being 3 minutes late for our flight and having to pay 100 euros to get on the plane; we had not seen the Berlin wall or partied until 7:30am with other UGA grads we met randomly in a bar; we had not seen any of London or searched for David's ancestor's old family ruins in Ireland; nor had we slept in the jungle or met Tal and Tomer, newly-found Israeli friends that we somehow feel we've known forever. Hundreds of experiences had just not happened yet.

I'm glad I had the foresight before we left to know that 4 months would not actually be a long time. I knew the time would fly by, and we would be home before we knew it. I thought about it often actually, and I did the absolute best I could to enjoy every moment, every smile, every laugh, every bad situation and every fight. I believe I succeeded in this. But it didn't make the time go by any slower.

Throughout the first half of our trip, I had a reoccurring dream that I woke up at my desk at work, looked at my computer and realized, "The trip is over. I'm home already." It was a depressed feeling every morning when I woke up. Luckily, I haven't had this dream since I talked about it with a friend. But the feeling the dream produced and the end of a chapter that it represented, is here on this day more than ever.

To express these feelings, I'm posting a small excerpt from my personal travel journal that I typed yesterday. It's not the easiest thing to share here, but I've chosen to include it because I've met others travelers with similar feelings and perhaps someone may benefit from it:

...The people we’ve met, the things we've seen and been a part of, the events we’ve witnessed, the places we’ve visited - things I saw with my own eyes, touched with my own hands, smelt, heard and tasted.

And somehow, all that has come down to one day. How did 4-months turn into one day so fast? And I’m not even surprised. I knew I would feel this way, and I’m glad I knew. But somehow, still. I don’t understand where the time went. And because it’s already past, it feels like it almost didn’t happen. And I’m still in Rio! Where we really in New Zealand, did we really go to Bali, Thailand, Egypt, Israel, London, Paris, Berlin, back to London, Ireland, Manaus, the jungle and Rio? How did we do that so quickly? Weren’t we JUST there? Why does it feel like so long ago and so far away? I don’t understand. And I don’t know if I want to. I feel like this time and these experiences are completely slipping away, and I’m still IN them! We aren’t even home yet. This was supposed to be so far away.

I know those feelings are unbridled. They aren't the feelings you tell people when you get home. These are the feelings you type when you're ready to cry because you aren't sure you want to go home. And actually, I don't think it's really about wanting or not wanting to going home. I want to see our families and our friends - very much. But I don't want this time to be over. This time that David and I have shared seeing 11 countries in 15 weeks is the absolute best thing I have ever done, ever. I wouldn't trade it for the world. We've seen so many places, experienced so many things and met so many people. This trip has taught me so much about myself, about David, about us, about how I see the world and the people in it, about wealth and money, and so much more.

And I want to finish this post with a reflection on what I've learned about money. Somehow I feel it summarizes my feelings toward our trip very well: Yes, I've learned first-hand some extreme budgeting lessons and saving techniques. But most importantly, I've realized that money is nothing more than a tool --- and time is astronomically more valuable than money. Granted, it was making and saving a large sum of money that allowed us to do this trip. But, the difference, is that I'm okay with the fact that I do not have the same amount of money saved as I did before. We spent our money on something worth while and invaluable - and on something worth much more than the money itself. All in all, what we gained for the many thousands of dollars we spent, I would say without hesitation, we got a fantastic deal.

Posted by smweaver24 10:13 Archived in Brazil Comments (3)

Memories

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I wish I could remember everything. Honestly, I think if I was tested, I would have just a slightly above average memory. But still, I feel inadequate to remember all the perfect details of this trip we've been on.

This isn’t a new feeling. I’ve felt this way since day one. I wish I could remember every single thing that’s happened: every thought process, every person, every emotion and every mental note made. If there was a way I could somehow put a recorder into my brain so that all images, videos and thoughts would be saved, I would do it. And the recorder would be even better if it could somehow capture not only those things, but everything else that comes with the human experience. If it could record all of that, too, that would be awesome.

I have moments where I’m afraid of forgetting something that happened. I’m anxious that I won’t remember something important - or something not important, even. These 15-weeks have been absolutely amazing and life changing. And I want to be able to remember it all in 5, 10, 30, 60 years. But I know I can't.

I’ve done my best to keep a daily journal of what we’ve done each day, the people we've met, the places we've seen, the arguments David and I have had, the victories we’ve shared, and how all of that made me feel. I hope I will be able to reread the currently-132 pages and be transported back to each experience.

It’s an anxious feeling - to feel this need to constantly document everything. But this feeling is only present because of how awesome this trip and our experiences have been. Had they been mediocre, I wouldn't feel this constant need to document and remember.

It’s things even like this moment. I’m sitting on a bus driving from Dublin to Cork and thinking about how even in a few days, I will want to remember exactly how I felt: anxious, tired, excited to see the Blarney Stone, sad at the thought of going home. This moment will mean something to me in only a few days because it means something to me now. And I want desperately to remember every second of it.

RANDOM THINGS WE WANT TO REMEMBER:

  • Gingernut cookies to dip in English Breakfast tea
  • how a taxi driver in Thailand dropped us at the wrong place
  • Honey Kiki the cat knocking off my earplugs repeatedly like a game at Hye's house in London
  • the first time I saw hieroglyphics - in the desert around the Sakkara pyramids
  • meeting two UGA students in our hostel in Kaikoura, NZ (one was from Catersville of all places)
  • being separated only by glass from the works of Leonardo Da Vinchi, Michaelangelo and Bethtoveen at the British Library
  • the antique elevators in our building in Cairo
  • how a shopkeeper got us drunk in the Christian Quarter in Old Jerusalem - and might have tried to cop a feel >.<
  • Balinese man in the airport that took $50 from us
  • generosity of the London couple who offered us their home - and how snotty their daughter sounded when she turned us away
  • excitement of the crew in Kaikoura when we spotted a blue whale
  • having an Egyptian man yell at us in our taxi, "do you not trust me? do you not like Egyptians? f*** you! go home!"
  • how wide the Legong dancers eyes were in Bali
  • how much love we felt from Solo at Botaira when he gave us a lobster dinner for free
  • the vibrancy of the paint on some of the hieroglyphics that were 4000 years old
  • details of the mosaics on Wat Arun
  • the word David yelled jumping from Nevis
  • the first time I saw a turkish toilet - Bali airport
  • British tour guide telling us how he thinks being shouted at in German is the scariest language to be shouted in
  • our surprise to a $56 movie ticket in Bangkok and how we made him refund the card
  • watching the UEFA cup at Standige Vertretung in Berlin
  • talking to the gardener at the Garden of Gethsemane
  • how amazing the wine was in paris - oh and the chocolate and food and coffee and everything else
  • Megan's kindness to offer us a bed in Hokitika, NZ when our couchsurfing host didn't show - and how when she finally did show, she cornered us on her porch and told us that calling people was how they get in touch with one another in New Zealand. Well, we use smoke signals in the US, lady
  • the massiveness of the Eiffel Tower
  • making David ride a camel
  • meeting two UGA girls in a bar in Berlin and then partying with them until 7am
  • two Austrian boys who claimed Coors was the best beer in the world - really dude? you're basically German and you tell me Coors is the best beer in the world?
  • how the Sphinx was much smaller than the Pyramids and our surprise
  • the let down we felt in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
  • sleeping in the Istanbul airport during a 4 hour layover to London
  • colors of the sunsets in Fiji
  • the one baby seal we saw at Milford Sound and how our guide was so surprised since babies are never there
  • my surprise when I saw how much Fox Glacier had retreated since 2010
  • being bitten by, not one, but two monkeys in Bali
  • Andrew, our Australian friend we met in Fiji, saying, "That's YOU guys???" when we mentioned the UGA men's swim team's harlem shake video
  • how much I hate the tube in London
  • South Korean we met on the train to Chiang Mai who gave us some perspective on life
  • the angry train manager who yelled at me to wake up at 7am on the way to Bangkok from Chiang Mai
  • Our guide, Shereif's (who is an Egyptologist in Cairo) theory on which pharaoh Moses escaped from
  • the wave of sadness we felt when we left Hye's house in London
  • how bad Simba sounds with a British accent
  • being literally pushed by a small Chinese woman in Versailles
  • our first friends made in Fiji, Travis and Samantha
  • having to make Ryan repeat himself when he said "tube" because I heard "cheap" #britishaccent
  • Stefani in New Zealand who told us she lived most of her life ashamed to be German
  • being short of my nose pressed against the glass from a mummy in the Egyptian Museum and talking to him like he might talk back

and there are so many more... for another post

Posted by smweaver24 04:02 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

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