I didn’t travel alone

Date: Friday 18th March 2016

Location: My Bedroom, Dorset, United Kingdom

It’s March and I’m sitting in my bedroom in my mum’s house where I’m now living (at the age of 26), looking out the window at the grey sky, the grey roads and the grey houses. Sometimes I forget that I even left the country, and when I do remember I wonder if it wasn’t just a dream. But then I look down at my arm and there are these two little marks on my forearm that will probably be there for a long time to come. They are the scars from when a giant, thorny fern fell on me in the jungle and I was too impatient to wait for the thorns to fall out on their own so I dug them out with a needle … and now they have scarred. And then there’s the thin white line that goes up my shin on my right leg where I scraped it climbing a fence to get into a corn field in America … and then I got sunburnt the next day and now it will stay. It took 4 months for the bruises from that bloody table challenge in New Zealand to fade, although I did keep accidentally hitting them on stuff so maybe it wasn’t all the game. To add to this I don’t think the mosquito and sandfly bite marks on my ankles will ever disappear. But the biggest change to me is when I close my eyes. Inside my head I can see a million different pictures in a myriad of the most spectacular colours. Each memory in turn can make me smile, laugh, cry, pause in wonder, cringe in embarrassment, fill with joy, stare in awe, swell with pride, make my heart break, make my heart sing and make me feel an astounding number of things that touch every point on the emotional rainbow (my emotional range is now definitely larger than a teaspoon). On the whole they make me grin from ear to ear. Memories are amazing; each one is like a brightly wrapped gift that I get to open again and again.

But more than just the physical and mental marks left on me I’ve gained the knowledge of this incredible group of people whom I never would have met in any other situation. When you are travelling you meet people you had never even imagined could exist and they’re doing things with their lives that you never even considered someone could do. Each and every person you meet opens up your eyes to new possibilities and it’s overwhelming and fascinating all at the same time. I loved learning about each and every one of you and I’m honoured that you thought I was worth sharing your story with.

When I tell people I’ve just travelled around the world on my own they generally tell me I was brave to do so (which I still think is a weird comment) but the truth is I didn’t travel the world alone, I travelled it with all of you. Whether it was a month, a few weeks, a day or even just dinner you all kept me company and shared my experiences the whole way round. I know I’m sounding all lovey-dovey and New Age (maybe I picked it up in America) but you guys made my trip what it was. If I hadn’t had someone around to take me out for dinner on my first night in New York or take me wine tasting in Niagara or show me how a tornado forms in real time or take me dancing all night in Austin or take me to crazy music festivals or invite me to stay in your family home or get me lost in the Wyoming mountains on a horse or teach me how to use a machete or join me in swimming in a river full of piranha and caymans or teach me how to act like a tree when there’s a monkey on your back or how to play dishes or save me from killer chickens or encourage me to get to the top of Colca Canyon or chase llamas in Cusco for me or help rescue my backpack in Puno or make me friendship bracelets in a truck driving across the salt flats of Bolivia or understand my excitement at geysers in Rotorua or jump out of a plane with me or forgiven my terrible Maori stick throwing or ride across the Narnia landscape with me or jump into the freezing lake Wanaka with me or laugh at me when I got too drunk (again) in New Zealand or invite me out on random snorkelling trip with all your friends when you’d only just met me or stay up drinking and laughing all night on a random sand island or take me to the most hilarious, empty club in the middle of the outback or laugh your way round the museums of Melbourne with me or take me for walks on the beach discussing the pitfalls of love or spend the evening prank calling exes with me and dancing like a crazy person … my journey would not have been the same.

So I want to say a huge thank you to everyone I met and remind you that by traveller code if you ever need a place to stay, or even just some help navigating my home country/city, then just let me know and I’ll be there for you.

And to those who haven’t yet travelled, go, please go, just go. Like I said, memories are amazing! They are worth far more than any Gucci handbag or Louboutin shoes you’re saving for (and I would really love a pair of Louboutin’s) and making the memories themselves is even more magical. The world is a massive, complex and beautiful place that I haven’t started to scratch the surface of. You don’t travel to realise your dreams, you travel to create dreams you don’t even know you’re going to dream yet.

BeFunky Collage

 

Advertisements

Getting my groove on in the Bay

Date: Saturday 29th November to Tuesday 1st December

Location: Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

I was lucky enough to meet some pretty cool people when I travelled through Cairns, Queensland and it just so happened that most of them work and live in Byron Bay. It’s always nice to enter a town knowing you’ve got a friend somewhere. They had promised to take me out and show me the local spots in Byron and they definitely delivered.

Byron Bay is a strange (but wonderful) place. My cousin passed through Byron on her travels a few years ago and she loved it. It’s weird how some places you go have a personality that aligns so specifically to someone you know that you’re amazed they weren’t born and brought up there. Byron Bay so completely sums up my cousin I was astonished she ever left. It’s different and quirky, full of interesting art and beautiful scenery, it’s overspilling with hippies in dreadlocks and baggy trousers, striving to be individual and different and yet has a sense of respectability about it which comes out in the really good food and drink you get everywhere… it’s a strange place ( I think I said that).

So what did I do? Well I walked up to the lighthouse (a must-do), I went out for drinks, I chilled on the beach, I shopped to fulfil all my health crystal and yoga pant needs and I enjoyed chilled out dinners with lovely friends and good conversation that stretched into late in the night. A particular friend really took me under her wing in Byron (she’s one of the most incredible and interesting women I have ever met. I’m very proud to call her a friend). One night she invited me along to a club night in another town, a few miles inland. Now, leaving the coast of Australia is sometimes a dodgy move, it all gets much weirder the further away from the sea you get. This place was no exception – a small town in the middle of the bush with a random club. It was meant to be a big party at which her friend was dj-ing but when we got there it was empty. Very empty. Not to be disheartened that quickly we got a drink and waited for it to fill up. When it became very clear that it wasn’t ever going to fill up we decided it was just an opportunity to have the entire dance floor to ourselves and proceeded to fill the space as completely as possible. We pulled out all the moves including the lawnmower, stacking the shelves, the lightbulb and (my personal favourite, having learnt it in Australia) the jellyfish.

IMG_5830

In contrast back in Byron we visited the ‘drumming circle’ a group of people who get together every evening around sunset and sit on the edge of the beach, making music. It’s beautifully calming to listen to the sounds of the drums echoing around you as the sky turns from blue to orange. This experience sums up Byron.  You may find elements of the place elsewhere in the world but you don’t often find all of them lumped together. It’s a really interesting place to visit and when you’re there you should totally embrace the spirit of the place. I’m not a Byron Bay baby and it doesn’t completely sum me up but I can completely see why it’s a mecca to others.