Traveling for this long, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen lots of things and had lots of new, sometimes very weird experiences. Now that we’re in Fiji, with just days left of our year-long trip around the world and all the time we need to think about this past year, a multitude of memories, both wonderful and otherwise, are surfacing.
We’ve all got different favorite parts of the trip, but we’ve got a few things that stand out for all of us. One of the things that we’ve all loved is when people visited us. All four of us have fond memories of Ireland with the Comaskeys and Longeneckers, Paris with the Gottesfelds, Barcelona with Lisa Maier, Italy and then Bali with Marmie (also known as Mom or Marion, depending on who you’re talking to), and Portugal and Vietnam with Grandma and Grandpa. Those are all highlights for me, and I think the rest of the family agrees.
Of course, there are lots of other highlights for me. I loved Ireland more than I can say. Turkey is what we call our ‘sleeper’. We expected it to be a lot like Morocco, but it ended up being very modern and the people were some of the friendliest out there. Spain was another of my favorites, especially Barcelona. Mommy and I both loved France, and we all loved Italy. Southeast Asia was both interesting and very, VERY different from anything else we’d seen. I remember in Bangkok, our first taste of Asia, I wrote in my journal:
“We’ve been to many big cities. Many of those are vibrant, bustling, colorful, wonderful, and weird. Bangkok is no exception! If you don’t have all your senses wide open, you’ll miss something. If you blink, you won’t see something interesting. If you exhale, you won’t smell a weird/wonderful/not-so-nice smell. If you are daydreaming, or have switched into a more things-aren’t-all-that-strange mindset, you will let the whole city pass by as just an interesting place in the back of your mind that you can’t access directly, only in dreams or daydreams or the fiction-writing part of your brain. To really feel like you know what Bangkok’s all about, you need to be very alert, 24/7.”
We’ve also had some not-as-great experiences, that we all like to laugh about now. We have entire dinner conversations about the Top 20 Worst Places We’ve Stayed, which includes the Bedouin tent, the night train to Luxor, the Iban Longhouse, and the Paradise Hotel on Perhentian Basar. I’ll never forget being sick in Pai, Thailand, and being told by the doctor, who hardly spoke English and who seemed to be around 20 years old, that I had typhoid, and by the way he said it, you’d think I had won a prize. It’s funny how sometimes the nastiest things end up being the funniest later on!
A few weeks ago, Mommy asked, “What is our next big dream?” That got us thinking. Move to Paris for six months? Write a book about traveling for a year? There are so many possibilities! Mommy says that doing something big, like this year, requires getting past some boundaries and doing some hard things. I think my next big thing is going to a new school, which I’ll be doing in September.
Whatever it is we’ll be doing next, this year has been really important for all of us. We’ve all changed. We’ve learned more about the world, and more about each other. More importantly, we’ve learned more about ourselves. And, maybe even more importantly, we’ve learned that we can do something huge, something that we didn’t know if we even could do, just by deciding that we’re going to do it and working to make it happen.