I write this not from some far off foreign country on the other side of the hemisphere but from sunny Florida (which is not so sunny right now due to an impending afternoon thunderstorm). We traveled home last week somewhat unexpectedly but I suppose when I really think about it, it was exactly the right time for us to transition our travels into this next adventure. It was a combination of factors that led to our decision including abnormally cold weather closing farms down, my grandmother becoming seriously ill, and getting home to get settled in before Shane and I welcome a new baby into our family (we found out a week after starting our travels that I am pregnant). We are expecting baby girl Pickett in late November!
We have had a lot of questions about whether we were bummed that we "had to" come home early or if we felt like we missed something by cutting the trip short. My personal sentiment is no. Nothing and no one forced us to come back early, we choose to. I'm sure there are things that we would have really enjoyed experiencing had we continued our trip but that could go on indefinitely. There is ALWAYS more to see and do. That is the amazing thing about traveling and life in general for that matter. There is such a difference in actively making a conscious decision to do something and feeling like you have no alternative. There are always choices. They may not be what you initially envisioned or planned on but there are still choices. This trip has given me the clarity to see that and most importantly to trust what is. Ive said it before but the most valuable thing I've gotten from this trip was learning to embrace change and just go with it. Allowing life to happen without dictating the terms lead to amazing opportunities that we never would have planned for on our own. That may be the most important lesson but the list goes on and on.
Life Lessons Learned:
1. Learning a new language isn't easy but it is so worth the effort. Sure you can stay in a well marketed hotels and eat at fancy restaurants without ever having to learn more than "una cerveza por favor". But putting yourself in an English speaking bubble is so limiting! To really experience a destination, learning to speak the language will open so many doors! You will be surprised at how willing people are to interpret your rudimentary attempts at communication. It shows them that you are willing to try and most importantly shows them that you do not think yourself so superior that you don't need to bother learning their language. Just be willing to try and laugh at your mistakes. Speaking like a caveman to get your point across is still better than nothing at all.
2. Don't follow the herd. And most of the time don't listen to them either. Stand up for yourself and "you do you". Just because your choice doesn't sound good to someone else doesn't mean its not right for you. Trust yourself!
3. You don't know what you got til its gone! Our society (from the richest to the poorest in our country) has been privileged for so long that we have forgotten what its like to be grateful for a roof over our head and food to eat. Not getting a raise sucks but at least you have money to pay your bills. Having to sweat to get to your car stinks (literally) but at least you have AC not only in the car but in your home and at work and in the store. I'm not saying that other countries don't have these things and I'm not saying that we have it perfect. What I am saying is that when you go to bed at night be grateful for all the amazing things in your life!
4. Every person we meet has his/her own life story and experiences. It makes us each unique. Taking the time to listen to them makes you a more understanding and compassionate person. Just because someone is from a different culture does not mean you have nothing in common. It doesn't matter what country they are from, what color their skin is, or the socioeconomic upbringing. People the world over share similar interests, passions, and missions if you take the time to look.
5. Waiting for the ideal time in life is senseless, it is never the "perfect" time. Your odds of winning the lottery are slim to none and there will always be work/family/friends who may need you. Visualize that dream of yours right now that you keep putting off... Now, stop hesitating and just do it!
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could.
To where it bent in the undergrowth,
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken