A year ago today we told the world about the world.
A year ago today is when we officially told everyone the plan of our global travel adventure. And although we haven’t been gone from the UK for a full year yet it’s strange to think that we’ve been at this travel thing for over a year already. By this point last year we had already handed in our notice at the zoos we used to work at, we’d booked flights, skyped with Workaway hosts, bought travel necessities and started packing up our previous lives.
Now that we’re out here and we’ve been doing this for a while it seems to be the new normal. When we meet other travellers we trade stories of different countries like currency, we are well versed in airports (and the fact that I will be stopped and searched every single time), we know that it generally takes 2 weeks at a work stay to feel fully comfortable and that learning your way around a new city is often easier than a new kitchen in someone else’s home.
I understand the grim realities of travel more but I can also appreciate just how amazing it is. I think back to what we’ve done and where we’ve been and I get breathless with excitement. In contrast to this time a year ago when I was breathless with fear of the unknown. The thing I think I feared most back then was the thought that I would be lost if I weren’t working with animals. That is completely true (with the exception of making a lot of Norwegian cheese on a daily basis) but what I didn’t realise was that those animals would guide me to countries I would never have dreamed of and anchor me in a way that not much else other than Peter can do.
Although the country I am currently in is the most frustrating, uncomfortable and depressing experience so far throughout travel (aside from the trip to the Killing Fields) it is also the one in which I really have felt like a different person from the fearful and unsure one that told the world we were heading off on an adventure a year ago.
And I like the way I have changed. I like the fact that I can have the confidence in myself to find solo travel in a foreign country with so many challenges a relatively “normal” undertaking. I was worried that I wasn’t letting travel change me as it should. I should be immersing myself in new culture and language and food (which I do try to do) but honestly, looking back from where we were a year ago I can see how travel has changed me in the best way possible. Self confidence is something I constantly battle with, particularly after the event that left me chained to some very persistent ghosts but travel is forcing me to look the world in the eye and state “I’m here!” And I’m very grateful for that invaluable lesson. It’s not changed the way I will feel about a situation but it’s certainly changed the way I will react to it.
There is always that fantasy of travelling forever. Some people, bloggers, vloggers and photographers make it work and I often think about trying to make our time on the road (or in the air) last longer. There are always more pages in our world guide book full of exotic enticement or more animals to go and work with somewhere else but as much as I love it all, it does make me appreciate what I really want from “home.”
When I look at the photo Peter and I shared of us holding our Lonely Planet guide to the world with excited anticipation plastered all over our faces I can see the expectation in our eyes. But now I also see the memories of everything we have shared, the jokes we have made, the arguments we have had (yes those do happen!) and the global journey we have taken together. And ultimately that is the home I really want. The familiarity of Peter’s blinding grin, the understanding between us of the madness of where our love for animals will take us and the people we have turned into along the way.
So as the song in the title tells us, no matter what you have or haven’t got figured out, just make a peace sign with your fingers, hail a taxi and try to make everything as fine fine fine as you can. And through all this change I still heartily stand by the statement that I made in the announcement a year ago: “There is no better way to learn about life than to live it.”