Preparing for the Next Big Trip!

It’s been about 10 years since my last big trip. I remember when I finally decided on my destination: Australia ❤ Of course 6 other countries followed that one and a lot of wonderful memories were made. It was the single greatest experience of my entire life.

It all seems like a distant dream now that so much time has passed. Was it even real? Did I really live and work on Saint Kilda beach in Melbourne? Did I really take a boat tour around the islands of Figi? Did I really ride down those white water rapids in Thailand?

It happened, and it changed my life forever. I gained a deep love for traveling. I met so many amazing people who have remained my friends from afar despite the years that have passed us by. My love for travel has never diminished and my desire to explore this tiny world we live in has only burned stronger and brighter with time.

So now is the time to plan the next big trip! I’m talking about multiple countries over a long time frame in which I have to leave everything behind including my job and my loved ones.

THE NEXT BIG TRIP!

The preparations are already underway; I’ve applied for and received my brand new 10-year passport. My belongings have either been sold or donated and I now only have 3 bins to store. I’ve also received a working holiday visa as well after a lengthy application and some running around to gather all of the documents that were needed.

During my last big trip, I was able to store most of my stuff in my parent’s basement. This time around I do not have that luxury as there is talk of selling their house. Luckily, I have a handful of best friends who are more than willing to help me out with storing the things I would like to keep such as my bed, dresser, and couch. The last thing I want to do is return home to nothing and have no money. So I’ve thought many steps ahead on this decision. I packed most of my things last night and they are now ready for storage.

Worst case scenario:

I arrive in a foreign place, lose all my belongings and money somehow and have to fly straight home on Dads credit card. Not a terrible thing and at least I gave it a try.

Best case scenario:

I arrive in a foreign place and meet some amazing friends who hook me up with a job and I never return home because my new home has captured my heart forever. I will now have to watch my nieces and nephews grow up through Facebook pictures and Skype. Not a terrible thing and at least I have a computer (I have all my things in this scenario).

So where am I headed?

I’m headed to a place full of culture.

A place where you can take a train from one country to the next and relish in the various landscapes across the land.

A place that speaks many languages.

This place has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.

Can you guess where I’m going for my next big trip?

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~Saved by the Sea Turtles~

~For the past 3 months or so, I’ve been contemplating how to write this story. Do I write it with the swirling emotions I felt because I finally had a chance to see turtles? Or do I write the cold facts about the grievances those poor creatures endure? Does this story end with a broken heart or a happy little turtle scurrying off into the sea as the sun sets beyond the ocean?

This story is not just about the greatest turtle experience ever in the history of all turtle experiences (biased opinion since this was the first and only turtle experience I’ve had so far), but it’s a story with no real happy ending. I set out to learn about the sea turtles and those tiny turtles taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined.

Arriving in Junquillal, Costa Rica on a hot overcrowded bus was uncomfortable, to say the least, but the sunset that evening made it all worthwhile. You really haven’t savored a sunset until you watch fresh newborn baby turtles pushing their tiny legs through the sand fighting for their freedom. Watching those ambitious little babies swimming their very first strokes towards the depths of the dangerous ocean is beyond any words I can write. It’s an emotional event. I didn’t know if they would make it. And most of them probably didn’t.

13509069_10157119828460444_9055118651432322492_nThe odds are not in the turtles favor, unfortunately, but the biologists and volunteers do everything they can to help save them from poachers and other various threats. I was placed at a small turtle conservation hostel called Verdiazul, which means green/blue in Spanish. In the orientation, I learned a lot about the practices of the project and the harsh realities of the sea turtles demise. The chances of the turtles returning to the beach to nest are slim to none once they are released. If they do happen to survive, the turtles will always come back to the same beach they were born and lay their eggs in the area.

The release is a beautiful thing. It made me feel like I finally had a purpose while traveling and that all of my planning had paid off. My very first night at Verdiazul, we released nearly forty babies.

The three species of turtles that the conservation had interactions with are Black (Negras), Olive Ridley (Loras), and finally the most endangered species on the planet; Leatherback (Baulas).

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Each night the volunteers patrolled the beach for 3-4 hour shifts. Walking up and down the shoreline searching for nests, tracks or nesting mother turtles. We would spend thirty minutes walking to either the south or north ends of the beach in small groups then we rested and sat in the sand under the stars. During the mild nights, it was so tranquil I could just stare at the moon for hours listening to the waves crashing against the shore.  But when the wind picked up you would have to hide your face from sharp spitting sand in your eyes and mouth. My skin stung from some of those windy patrols. But it was the wonderful people who made those nights fly by with laughter and great conversation. I made some lovely new friends and felt very content in the passing of time.

The bitter-sweet part of this story is where I had my dream come true. My wish to encounter a Leatherback; the largest species of turtle in the entire world and the most critically endangered, finally became real on my 3rd patrol on Playa Junquillal. That was the sweet part. The bitter part is that I experienced this incredible event with someone who is no longer in my life. It’s hard to tell the story without him in it as it was such unbelievable trip. It’s a shame these memories are slightly clouded by pain now when I reminisce.

The siting was magnificent regardless. As the glow of the moon bounced off the water, the seven hundred pound mother slowly slid her way onto the beach that night. From twenty feet away she looked like a huge rock and if it hadn’t been for the slightest of grumbles as she pulled herself through the sand, we probably would’ve walked right by. We came to a sudden halt when we realized the beautiful mama Baula was directly in front of us and then slowly backed away to give her some space.

Some would say she was ugly with her wrinkled scaly face and fishy scent, but I was mesmerized by her enormous beauty. The volunteers who had studied sea turtles told us that she was probably more than fifty years old! They determine the age by the size of the turtle. The older they are the bigger they are. We watched in amazement as the mother moved up the beach towards some nearby grass, looking for the perfect nesting spot. Our group leader called the rest of the volunteers from a cell phone as Baulas are rare and she knew everyone would come running to witness the endangered creatures trek to lay her eggs.

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Tears of joy welled up in my eyes as I patiently waited to see what would happen. Just as the turtle neared the grassy mound, she started to turn around back towards the sea. At that moment a group of the senior volunteers circled around her to take down some information. I did wonder if she was spooked by the people surrounding her at first, but they started to take measurements and record the markings on her shell. Apparently, this was not the first time the mother had traveled to this beach to nest. I was astonished to learn that the markings on her shell and the irregular shape of her fins matched those of the Leatherback babies we had released from the hatchery earlier that day.

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Although the mother turtle did not end up nesting that night, I felt privileged to be in her presence none the less. The only images I have of her are in my mind, just for me as I was not able to take any photos. Turtles are very sensitive to light and that’s why they come to nest at night, guided by the moon. But through the darkness, I saw something most people never have a chance to witness. To know that her kind is almost extinct and that I had the chance to see a short part of her journey, well, the feeling is indescribable.

Looking back, I understand that a 2-week en-devour did not have a huge impact on the sea turtles at all, nor can I say that I saved them. My wish to save the sea turtles will only ever be a desire and not a fact. I was merely a small aid to the conservation project in its efforts to improve the chances of the turtles survival and educate the community about the threats to these glorious reptiles. I did, however, learn a great deal about the life of a sea turtle and I will forever be grateful for that.

10431871_489861497868477_1069012161_nSo how did the sea turtles save me you ask? Well, they taught me some very valuable lessons:

Swimming out into the unknown will either kill you or make you stronger.

Letting go is an essential part of life and although it may be the most difficult thing you ever do, it will only pave the way for a new life.

And finally; even though your initial release into the deep waters ahead of you may inevitably end in disaster, the only thing you can do is move forward like those little babies swimming their very first strokes towards the depths of the dangerous ocean in the direction of that fading sun while it sinks away.

It may have taken months to come to these conclusions, but now I am here at the shoreline ready to see what lies ahead. And yes, sadly, my story ended with a broken heart, but my survival odds are greater than the turtles and I am very fortunate for that. In the end, my experience with the sea turtles turned out to be much more rewarding than I expected. I left the conservation full of love, knowledge and admiration for those involved with this remarkable cause. It was worth every second and I will never forget it.

And that’s my story of how I was saved by the sea turtles.

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Traveling: Will It Make or Break You?

~Relationships are funny. You gain some and you lose some. Lessons are learned and hearts are broken. Travelling is a huge test when it comes to relationships and putting the two together can be either a wonderful practice or a deadly concoction.

If you have read my blog recently you may have noticed that I am going through a very painful break-up which makes it incredibly hard to write about the trip I just experienced with my ex two months ago. It really is true what they say: Traveling will make or break you.

Learning about someone in a relationship is exciting at times, but when you realize something is not quite right in that person’s actions towards you, it can be hard to understand where that person is coming from. This is exactly what happened to me. All I can say is that a distance grew between us and I don’t really understand why. Distractions caused me to feel invisible and ignored. Once we had returned from our trip the distance grew so strong that we ended up further apart than ever.

So I guess traveling broke us.

In any case, I find this to be true in friendships as well. Maybe it’s because there are shades of colors you can never see in a person unless you travel far away from home. Maybe it’s because traveling changes you. Whatever the reason may be, I believe it’s a blessing in disguise. Everything happens for a reason.

Going outside of your comfort zone can be a challenging decision. Stepping outside that zone with another person; well that’s a whole other story.

I lost a very special friendship while I was traveling through South East Asia. I had planned to meet up with an old friend in Thailand who I had known for years. I jumped on a plane and flew from Singapore to meet him. Once I arrived in Bangkok, we met up and had some fun in the city before venturing out to an Island called Ko Samet. My birthday was right around the corner and I was excited to celebrate.

But something happened during that trip that I will never understand. Everything seemed fine when we arrived but after a night of drinking and words, our friendship went sideways. Again, a distance suddenly grew between us and I started to notice a strong wall being built up inside my friend.

That evening I celebrated my birthday without him and danced around with some locals instead. If you’re interested in the details of how that night you can read my post: Stories of a Solo TravelerIn the end, the trip was a bit of a disaster. We left the island without speaking a word to one another and I sat on the bus back to Bangkok all by myself. I felt horrible.

Once arriving back in Bangkok I confronted my ex-friend about his actions towards me. He left me at the bus station that day and three days later he boarded a plane and flew back to Canada. I haven’t spoken to him in almost ten years now. Travelling seemed to have broken him and our friendship.

And that’s how fast it can happen.

Maybe it was something I said. It could have been something he felt and I didn’t. In my current situation, it was clearly something I felt and he did not. Now we are just strangers with a bunch of pictures of us from another country. Memories that were supposed to be happy but now just cause pain.

In both cases, I have felt totally abandoned by people who I thought cared about me.

I’m not going to lie, it hurts… a lot! But you can’t stop the changes that happen to someone else when you travel. Going somewhere else in the world is a life-changing experience. People’s true colors shine through and the universe either brings you together or it tears you apart.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also had some amazingly happy trips with other people in my life. My best girlfriend and I have traveled down to Mexico a few times and everything turned out great for us. It all depends on the people, the timing and the situations you put yourselves into.

You can’t stop change. You can’t force change.

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It is true what they say: Traveling will make or break you.

Luckily, I know how to put myself back together 🙂

 

Good Morning Monday ~Why I Travel~

~Just two weeks ago I was coming home from Costa Rica after travelling around for over a month. Now I’m home and back to work just as fast as I when I left. Back to the day job and the regular old routine. But while I was travelling I felt like time stood still. It felt like I was gone forever.

The worst thing about travelling… is the travelling part.

Line-ups to check your bags, then more line-ups to scan your other bags and then the terminal gate-wait. Not to mention, the line up to board the plane, the slow pitter patter of shuffling feet, the immigration cards to fill out and all the bags everywhere. Long hours on flights that can get horribly bumpy and cramped. Headaches and nausea can suddenly hit you. Sometimes your legs or arms fall asleep.

It’s the worst!

So why do I travel?

I travel for the stamp on my rugged, worn out passport at my destination.IMG_20160213_175810

I travel for that first glimpse of a place I’ve never seen before.

I travel for the story, the excitement, and of course, the knowledge.

I travel to feel the earth and sand beneath my feet. I mean; to really feel it.

I travel for the joy of travelling.

I travel for the most amazing experiences I’ll ever have. 🙂

These are the BEST parts about travelling!

Travelling is the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s helped me appreciate everything on such a deeper level. Travelling gives you something to look forward to and memories to remember forever. It’s extremely difficult to put into words how you feel when you have fear, anxiety, exhilaration and wonder all wrapped up in your belly together like a swirl of emotions all fighting to get out.

I always want to keep coming back to that feeling: Pure joy.

With each flight and bus ride I took on my journey, I would have my hands pressed up against the windows of the buses and planes with that silly little smirk on my face.
There’s a whole world out there and I just went and explored it. Well, a small part of it anyway. 🙂

Travelling changes you. It opens your mind to new things and new sensations. It brings out your inner child and taps into the fascination bursting within your deepest core muscles.  We are not meant to stay in one place on this earth. I believe we were meant to explore and learn about our surroundings. How else will we prosper if we know nothing of the greatness that surrounds us?

Do you feel the same? Do you have a burning passion for travelling around the world, like me?

I want to hear your travel stories!

I also want to pursue a career as a Travel Blogger. It’s been on my bucket list for far too long. So here is where I can start; with you.

The Travel Blog will have to start with some stories of course. There’s a lot of research to be done. And there will be an overhaul of all my current content already on this tiny little blog. I’ve looked into more and more travel blogs to get some ideas on how to make money while you travel as that is what I’ve always wanted to do.  The Freedom-Preneur movement is on an overwhelming up-rise because travel is becoming so much more popular among young people these days.

Over the next year, I will be creating an entirely new blog from a different platform. I’m really excited to start a new project. But for now, I will share some stories with you and I would really love your feedback on my newly discovered content as I try to rebuild my tiny blog after a long hiatus from writing.

So I hope you enjoy my travel stories 🙂 as I always love to share them.

Costa Rica was country #11 for me. How many countries have you been to?