Hello Friends and Family!
I have been given an opportunity from Ms. Jessie Sunday and am honored to be a guest-blogger on the highly esteemed 'Sunday's Around The World'! To be honest, blogging has never been 'my thing' for a mix of reasons. My traveller's mindset strives to 'disconnect', so documentation of my time away from home is usually stuck inside my personal hand-written notebook. However, on this adventure I am lucky enough to be traveling with someone who puts a huge amount of effort into recording our experiences. Jessie's stories are a great way to real-time share our adventures with everyone we care about. They also allow us to forever keep big and small details of this trip that would have otherwise faded from memory as time passes by.
Well, I've got the spotlight...what should I say? Reminds me of what it might be like to be a music guest artist at a concert: invited on stage to sing your heart out on your best song, leave the stage to a roaring applause and passing the rest of the work to the actual artist whose show you just crashed. In my case, I believe this gives me an opportunity to sing one song that steps out of the details from our trip and instead shares some thoughts from a birds-eye view. The notes below will hopefully give you some understanding into some of the current thinking, questioning, reasoning, and other 'ings' from this time we are spending.
Why Are We Traveling?
Why put 'normal life' on hold to be on the road in an unfamiliar place? What is it about travel that draws us in and what are we looking to get out of it? You ask these questions of us and we ask them of ourselves. These questions enter my mind multiple times a day, and it's tiring! Good news is the more I find myself asking, the more clearly the answers are starting to come.
For me, travel has always represented the ability to see the world - its landscapes, wild-life and cultures - in a way that opens my personal view wider than before. I enjoy stepping out of the life I was born into to hear, see, do and taste all new things. Travel gives me the ability to learn how people live around the world and take my favorite parts back with me to adapt the ways I find meaning in my life at home.
Travel is adventure and relaxation. It's learning and teaching. It's a step back in time and a look forward to the future. It's finding comfort in the uncomfortable. It is feeling lonely, then finding community. It's finding fear you never new you had and overcoming it on the spot. It's learning language to communicate, and communicating to connect with those around you. It's a departure from daily distraction, a slowing down that creates a sharper awareness. Traveling opens up unused mind-space that allows for seeing, doing and learning in a way that might not have been possible in the 'daily-grind' back home. Simply, extended travel is a very good thing that I encourage everyone to try.
Jessie and I agree that in just three weeks this trip has afforded all of these experiences and more. The nature of Central America is stunning - blue waters, humid jungle mountains, volcanoes, caves and everything in between. The people (locals and backpackers alike) have been teachers and friends. We have tackled physical challenges like water caving, scuba diving, mountain hiking, kyaking, etc. We've also taken on the mental challenges of learning a new language, trying and learning about the most local street food, music and culture we can find. We have gotten a glimpse into Mayan history and how it has shaped this part of the world. We have experienced the good and bad aspects of being in a developing country, learning how tourism both positively and negatively affects these areas. We've rode the chicken buses, dealt with bug bites, crossed shady borders...I'm even growing my hair long, all in the name of exploration. Not too bad so far!
This is my first experience with a travel partner. Having a constant companion is a very welcomed change in my travel. We share responsibility in planning, we learn each others strengths, weaknesses, and push each other to learn and accomplish more than if we were on our own. It's fun to know that there is someone who truly understands all of the unique moments we have that are otherwise so hard to describe to everyone else who, just wasn't there. We keep each other company whether homesick or flying high with travel excitement. Jessie is a very easy travel partner, and I am lucky to share this experience with her.
Finding the Meaning:
One of the best parts of having a travel partner is that we are sounding boards for each others ideas. As we've talked, we both have come to a realization about travel...we've done it before! We have seen the sunsets, felt the feeling of being in a foreign place, experienced the bumpy roads of an 8 hour bus ride to the next town. While we are in a new locations, we've done the 'back-packer travel' and so the thrill of it, while high, isn't quite where it used to be.
So, it turns out we are are both on the search for something 'bigger', more meaning. What that is, we aren't so sure yet. Is it a finished tangible project that we can come home having completed? Maybe it's finding a way to give back to the local communities we visit. Or, it could be a physical feat that we never expected to accomplish. Maybe we'll need to find one town to spend a month in, rather than the 3-day hop around we've been doing. We are looking to 'dig in' a bit more. How exactly we'll achieve this feeling of productivity is TBD.
In order to find this meaning, we are opening ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually to the universe around us. Sounds trippy, but it's pretty basic. We know that by having conversations with great diverse people, following the 'signs' hidden in coincidences, along with mixing in traditional research we will be led to the exact opportunity we are looking for. We'll come home with more to say than "yeah, we saw some great cities and did some amazing things". We'll be sure to let you know what ends up coming of this search.
Until Next Time:
Seems my 15-minutes of fame on this blog are closing out for now. I'll pass the mic back over to Jessie to continue updating you on the amazing adventures we have every day. Feel free to supplement your blog reading! I'm starting a "Picture-a-Day" Facebook album where I am posting just one picture for each day (with brief description) representing big and small moments from the trip. Behind on it, but will be up to date in just a few days. I'll post the link when ready!
Lots of love and thoughts to everyone at home. See you before you know it!