Those Facebook memories can really get to you. I usually ignore them (and sometimes can't help but indulge) and today's was a big one. This time last year, plus one day, I left Tbilisi and traveled across Georgia (the country) to the little beach town of Gonio near Batumi. I saw the Black Sea, talked with lots of Polish and Georgian people, and had one of the best travel days ever-just for 24-hours but it seemed like a week, as I prepared to cross over to Europe the following day. I left the Gonio hostel only a day after I arrived, took a taxi with some friends to the hostel, hopped on an airport bus, then got to a little Georgian airport to catch an overnight flight to Warsaw. I landed in Warsaw, waited in line at Customs for over an hour, got my E.U stamp, walked into the airport arrival lounge and tried to figure out how to work that McDonald's self-serve order thingy. I'd never seen one before. I barely knew what Uber was. People would talk to me thinking I was like them, that I could speak Polish. I couldn't. The sounds of the languages seemed more out of this world than any of the Thai, Chinese, and Korean I was accustomed to. I didn't know how to say "I don't understand". Both literally and figuratively. With a handful of Zlotys I bought my breakfast and knew I'd arrived in another world. I'd been out of the "West" for a while-almost two and a half years-and I was experiencing reverse culture shock.
My reality was temples, completely foreign languages, funky clothing styles, busy streets and efficient subway systems. This Europe thing, and even this North American thing, was an obscure notion to me. In many ways, it still is.
But I pushed through. I looked up at the Roman arches and classical architecture, the strong beer, and made my way through what I thought was a totally provincial transportation system. I didn't know where I belonged, but I kept walking.
And yes, to my dozen readers or so, I haven't posted on here in a LONG time. Why?! I've been working to switch over my blog to something more professional, pretty, and in my eyes, perfect. So far it hasn't happened. I've been wandering lots (more on that to come), working as a Content Writer for Trip.com and doing social media management (did I tell you that I'm so bad with technology?!?) there hasn't been much time for anything else. Perhaps if I gave up Netflix there would be a little extra time, and as I sit in a cafe in one of the biggest, most dynamic cities in the world on a sunny Saturday, I've realized, yet again, what is truly important to me. Who needs so many nights in when there's so much world to see? Who needs to self-loathe when there are too many words to type?
Most travellers will understand this. Just using our two feet to walk to places we never planned to arrive in, seeing and experiencing a different culture, getting a smile from someone whose language you can't speak while wandering the day (and sometimes into the night) alone are things that bring you back to life.
On the road now for three months, yet again (but frankly, I'm not sure I ever stopped) thinking back to what happened in May seems like years ago. Thinking back to being up in the hills of Colombia seems like another lifetime.
That's the thing about travel. It expands your life, and your perspective, in more ways than you could have ever planned.