My brief hiatus at home was exactly what the doctor ordered, and it didn’t take long once I was back on the road to get my travel mojo back.
- I slept in the same bed at my parents’ house for two months and I’m not exaggerating when I say that was one of the most luxurious parts of my year so far.
- I got to be with my baby sister on her 18th birthday. She might not realize it, but she’s the closest thing I’ve got to a kid, so that was a very special milestone for me.
- I just barely reached my goal of visiting six continents by 30, with about a month to spare. Nothing like leaving things to the last possible moment, eh!
- I ticked off multiple boxes on the life checklist.
- In one crazy day in London, I finally met up with kindred spirits Holly & Sara, two fellow finalists from Best Job in the World, had a decadent dinner at Indigo with darling Katie from Camden, and followed it up with a wildly fun night in Sloane Square with Hannah from Mykonos. London is quickly becoming my favorite place for layovers!
- I LOVED EGYPT. It may have been the best two weeks of the whole year, and that’s saying something! Ancient history, lovely new friends, a jam-packed itinerary sprinkled with brilliantly lazy days on a felucca on the Nile, diving in the Red Sea, hiking to the top of Mt. Sinai in the middle of the night, hot air ballooning over the Valley of the Kings at sunrise… it was just the best. I can’t wait to tell you every (well, almost every) little detail!
- I finally found somewhere to volunteer on this adventure at a Compassion Center just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. Visiting the slum where many of the kids live was a humbling experience, and I think with minimal effort we can help a few families experience huge life change… so stay tuned for that. I am also affirmed in my desire to adopt kiddos one day, that’s for sure.
- I haven’t actually lived at home since about 2004, so getting back into the swing of everyone’s routine was tricky at times. Plus, I got to feel the sting of resentment and jealousy from folks who aren’t so supportive of my unconventional life & career decisions. Oh well. I’ve never needed anyone’s approval to march to the beat of my own drum.
- As we were awaiting the 12-hour overnight train from Cairo to Aswan, we found out that a violent riot was in progress in the city and 20+ people were killed and more than 200 injured. Then when I got to Nairobi, the State Department issued an imminent terrorism warning from an Al Qaeda offshoot, and soon after, grenade attacks began in town. At no point was I ever scared or even really in danger during these events, but I know it puts my family back home in a fragile state of mind knowing I’m in the midst of unrest.
- Between all-night dancing in London, all-night hiking on Mt. Sinai and an altercation with a coral reef in the Red Sea, I put a serious hurting on my feet, ankles and my right calf, which may or may not be suffering from flesh eating mega bacteria. Also, I’m a massive, whinging drama queen.
- Just when I thought the Gropey McGropersons were confined to drunken Spaniards at Running of the Bulls… I had a jarring encounter at a gas station somewhere on the way from Luxor to Dahab. Turns out, nothing in Egypt is free. Sometimes it costs you 1 Egyptian pound worth of boob grab to use the restroom.
- And speaking of dramatic restroom incidents, there was a snake on the toilet at my home in Kenya. And I didn’t see it until after using the potty. So it probably touched me. Maybe I’ll just avoid bathrooms for a while…
Lessons & Goals
I learned that my hand in marriage is worth anywhere from 10 to 6 million camels in Egypt. I wouldn’t know what to do with 10 camels let alone 6 million, but it’s semi-flattering, I guess. I also found out that to Egyptians, I bear a strong resemblance to Shakira.
I met a few lovely Commonwealth folks since I came back out on the road. So for now, England and Australia are off the blacklist. (Maybe there are a few Mr. Darcys out there after all.) Now, I will not nuke their countries if I ever take over the world. (As if there’s any doubt.)
During my travels, I’ve met with many strong opinions about Americans. I hear we don’t travel (ok, there’s some truth there – only a small percentage of Americans have passports), we’re loud (YEAH, THAT’S PROBABLY TRUE), we’re fat (depends) and we’re all rich, drive Hummers, have $100,000 sweet sixteen parties and have servants (thanks, MTV.) I’ve had quite an interesting experience lately trying to explain that KFC does not stand for Kenya Fried Chicken, crazy rich Americans have seen dirt roads before and we do actually work quite hard, even if machines wash our clothes. It’s hard to explain to someone who makes $200 a year that you aren’t exactly rich, because comparatively, you are. As uncomfortable as being on the defense can be, it’s also a privilege to be in the position to counteract some of the misconceptions.
I’m wrapping up Kenya with a trip to the Masai Mara tomorrow, then heading to South Africa to spend my big birthday ticking off another box on the life checklist. I can’t think of any better way to celebrate!
After South Africa, I’m heading home to Florida (I guess that’s home?) for the holidays and to catch up on work, then all signs point to another transoceanic jaunt. Want to guess where I’m off to next?
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