It is hard to believe a full year has gone by since I embarked upon this insane jaunt around the world. Had you asked me last April where I would be in one year's time, I would have likely said "back home". Certainly not in Palawan, the Philippines' last rugged frontier, surrounded by chickens and using satellite internet to wish myself a happy anniversary. As they say, make plans and God will laugh, and this year has certainly been a testament to that adage. From finding myself sicker than I have ever been, to traveling alone, to not even putting Malaysia or the Philippines in my initial itinerary and then sinking into each of those countries with a comfort level that astonished me, to stumbling upon new friends in random places, to finding a sense of inner peace I have never before known, the last 365 days were a lesson in adaptability and a grateful exposure to the souls of countries I have always wanted to explore.
I think back to those restless, long white nights before I left NYC, my brain in panic mode. I worried about where I would go, what I would do and how I would cope with showing up to a new place without knowing where to stay. And now, a year later, I have learnt that closing your eyes and stepping into the void is actually most of the battle, that the rest falls into place easier than you could wish for. All you really need to do to be a happy traveler is expect your journey to take a roundabout, winding path and then not get irate when it does; in the end, what you see en route informs who you will become as much as the actual destination.
People often ask me whether I am tired of traveling, or whether I am still excited to see or explore a new place. I assure them that if I wasn't moved by new places or thirsty to keep exploring, I would go home. It would be a waste of time, money and effort to force myself to travel if my heart wasn't in it. I can safely report that while I have been blown away by the geography and diversity of where I have been, I remain excited for the 'next stage' at every point in this journey. Instead of feeling as though I have seen it all, every new city, mode of transportation or chicken in my lap on a random bus ride propels me farther into the maelstrom of wonder that is my present. Though this type of travel is not sustainable long term without feeling unmoored, I have not exhausted my exploration just yet. The anchor of Craig, my family and my friends back home, and the sheer pleasure of sharing this journey with you on this blog, has given me a sandbox to play in (albeit a huge one) in lieu of drifting through this year aimlessly.
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Born in Montreal, Canada, Jodi Ettenberg is a former new media and technology lawyer who quit her job after 5+ years of working…
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