Wander, Seek, & Find

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Double Rainbow on Christmas Eve

Every morning the last few weeks, I’ve eaten cornflakes for breakfast. And suddenly the world seems less troublesome…

People often travel to find themselves, though why or how they lose themselves remained a mystery to me until recently. Instead I imagine bodiless souls ordained by some holy ascetic to wander the countryside, Will-o’-the-wisps gliding down a path in order to recommune with their weak, dependent bodies.

And it’s hard to argue with that logic; check any Instagram travel account and you’ll doubtless find a quote about how travel is the only thing you shell out dough for that will make you richer, or how travel changes you, broadening your mind and transforming you into Wander Woman, complete with money belt rather than Lasso of Truth. Then why are so many of us so incredibly lost while everyone else seems to find their way?

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My Jamaican Home

I have thought, read, and written about the concept of home and travel so much, you would think I have all these answers. Yet even after shirking work to travel for a year, I have no more answers than a three-year-old eating his own boogers.

So how did I lose myself when Peace Corps is supposed to be all about finding yourself? How did I become so mired in purposelessness, apathy, and despair when there are people whom I can help literally at my doorstep?

While pondering these puzzles, I realized a couple of things:

  1. People like to learn more about themselves, and then share that with the world. Case in point- While reading Eat, Pray, Love, I came across a section where a medicine man, Ketut, describes children born on Thursdays.

The official tree of children born on Thursday is the banyan. The official bird is the peacock. A person born on Thursday is always talking first, interrupting everyone else, can be a little aggressive, tends to be handsome (“a playboy or playgirl,” in Ketut’s words”) but has a decent overall character, with an excellent memory and a desire to help other people.

The point is, I was born on a Thursday.* And this quote is basically my Tinder bio. Which brings me to Point

  1. There’s nothing like a lived experience to teach you about yourself, and you cannot avoid them while traveling. After cussing out a taxi driver in Cambodia for not opening his trunk so I could get my backpack, I realized where my patience ends. After ten days of Burmese food, I learned it does nor pair well with extra cheesy pizza and margaritas.

Like Shrek said, life is like an onion, a layered, stinky, brings-tears-to-the-eyes affair that, when cooked correctly, is quite satisfying. And traveling is the most visceral, immediate way of learning about the life and self you’ve become.

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Moss Filtered Light on the Hike Up Blue Mountain Peak

In short, we find ourselves everywhere we go, between the pages of our favorite book, in the scent of a blossoming flower, or in the touch of a lover. There is no life experience that doesn’t imprint on us in some way, whether or not we acknowledge it. And perhaps this is why the kookier of us careen down life searching, grabbing at every passing token that offers us an explanation of life’s greatest mystery: ourselves. Travel is just the medium I choose to unlock these mysteries, a slow ex-pat odyssey as full of questions as answers, and often not the ones you were seeking.

So maybe it doesn’t matter why I felt so purposeless, in need of finding me. Perhaps what matters more is that I know how to find me, to read in another’s pages feelings I heard as my own, to drift from whence I came in order to come back fuller, wiser, to  tell cheese puns no one wants to hear.**

Returning home from weeks on the road, I saw a box of cornflakes on the table. They were the same brand I had purchased during my trip and I smiled as I recognized the label, the same my host mom always buys. I might travel endeavoring to find myself, but when I crossed the threshold, that box reminded me I had been there the whole time. Sometimes it just takes a trip to notice a box of cornflakes.

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Cornflakes ton UP

*My favorite tree is the banyan tree. I don’t have a favorite bird, but it might as well be the peacock, because that is, in essence, what I am: a loud, gregarious, bawdy young woman that likes to dress in finest feathers, but wants to help people too. As for the playgirl, you’ll have to ask my boyfriends…

**Did you hear about the cheese factory explosion in France? There was deBrie everywhere 😀

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Why I Joined Peace Corps

“Receptive, we approach new places with humility. We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is or is not interesting. We irritate locals because we stand in traffic islands and narrow streets and admire what they take to be unremarkable small details. We risk getting run over because we are intrigued by the roof of a government building or an inscription on a wall.” Alain De Botton. The Art of Travel

A couple of years ago, a study emerged claiming there are 2 types of people: those born with a certain “wanderlust” gene, one that would spur its owner on to risk-prone behaviors like boarding aircrafts for hard to pronounce locales, or putting too much wasabi on a particularly pungent piece of sushi, and those born without it. I implicitly distrust these types of studies; how could a piece of my DNA inform my desire to ride on a train for seemingly endless days over seemingly endless swathes of Siberian landscape, punctuated by stops on platforms hawking hard boiled eggs, ice cream on a stick, and those fuzzy-furry Russian hats we all secretly want to wear?

Beach house in Treasure Beach

Beach house in Treasure Beach

DNA aside, upon reading the book whose quotation introduced this post, I decided to uncover why it is I joined Peace Corps, beyond the reasons I stated in my application essay. If I figured this out, perhaps a piece of me would begin to unravel like a bit of loose string on an old shirt, and once pulled out, I would understand myself more fully. Continue reading

Blood, Shit, & Beers

“Pppppop! Zzzzzzzz…..zzzz….zz.”

I can hear the tennis-racquet-fly-killing-machine murdering too few of the legions of flies rooms away. The wings of one in my room stop moving as he is unable to uproot his legs from the twirl of sticky, slow, sure death tape hanging from the ceiling. I resort to a constant, slow swaying during meals outside to prevent the incessant beasts from using me as a landing pad; I imagine I resemble an interpretive dancer on weed.

My smell lingers, though I only notice some hours after a shower when my hair still slips through my fingers and smells of pine. If my odor were a perfume, it would have notes of B.O., shit (specifically cow, horse, goat, and sheep), zucchini, and occasionally some piney-grassy weed that grows everywhere on the ranch.

If I looked in the mirror, I would see dirt on 1/3 of my exposed skin, peachy-white sunscreen on hot days (earning me the nickname “lobster with hollandaise sauce”), freckles where snow white skin used to be, and scratches and bruises from I’m not really sure what.

Less Flies on a Rainy Day!

Less Flies on a Rainy Day!

Sweating, cursing flies, and digging my nails into cow shit to build fires has become part of my daily routine, and while this description could easily fit someone in summer camp detention, I chose this. I chose to live without air conditioning, Wi-Fi, or running water to see how a working horse ranch works.

How does it work?

Take a horse, a big stick, shout “CHAAAA!” as many times as necessary, until the goats trod the way you mapped out for them. You might even try calling them “Fucktards!” if they go into someone else’s vegetable patch.

Life at Anak Ranch

Life at Anak Ranch

As you leave the ranch, the grass hits your knees, the mountains grow higher, and the sound of cows chewing reaches your ears. The slow, seemingly methodical “ssccchhh”, like someone peeling a giant potato slowly, accompanies the “hoooo” of the wind, the sharper, staccato “chchut” of goats ripping off grass, and the soft “zzzz” of the steppe flies.

Hearing this, you close your eyes and breathe in the dry grass, the sandy earth, and the slightly sweet smell of animal dung. As the wind blows away the flies and your hair, the sun’s rays reach you like the first warm day after winter. Then, a fly lands on your arm.

This time, their millimeter legs feel like a feather grazing your skin. This time, you don’t kill the fly, or tell him to “Fuck off!” This time, when the fly lands on your arm, you smile, enjoying the infinitesimal massage.

In Defense of GPS

As a self-proclaimed bibliophile, I love paper: the touch, the smell, the je ne sais quoi that bubbles up as I walk into a new library. So when a close friend and I had to decide whether to rent GPS or use a map on a road trip through Romania, I was a bit surprised at my eagerness to rent the GPS. I had to remind myself that, contrary to what Arthur Weasley thinks, you can trust an object even if you can’t see its brain.

Bran Castle Photo Credit: Maija Butler

Bran Castle
Photo Credit: Maija Butler

GPS installed, we began our road trip. On our way to Sibiu, we drove to Bran Castle (made famous by Bram Stoker’s tome Dracula), then hung a left at Highway 7C, also known as Transfăgărășan, the most beautiful road in the world, according to Top Gear.

Thankfully, I drove on the way up; I’m not completely convinced I’ve conquered my vertigo. Every other turn brought us to the edge of the mountain, trees and certain death below. We made it to the top far faster than we’d assumed given the mountain’s height.

Snakeskin Road

Snakeskin Road Photo Credit: Maija Butler

We got out of the car and looked around. To my right, a snowboarder hopped onto the railing of a staircase, then back onto the snow, slowly slowing to a stop. In front of me bikers of the vroom-vroom kind drove one by one through a small opening in a tunnel. Nearby a stream began, thickening as more and more snow began to melt. Behind me the Transfăgărășan looped down the Carpathian Mountains through poianas– or glades- and forests, reminding me of an unbroken snake skin shed for the coming Midsummer.

Me wearing summer clothes in winter weather Photo Credit: Maija Butler

Me wearing summer clothes in winter weather Photo Credit: Maija Butler

As I crossed the path of a glacial stream, the water swam over the bottom of my leather sandals, icing my insoles. My friend and I were relatively quiet, a considerable feat for us. Something about a view like that shuts you up.

The silence at the top of the mountain contrasted with Poiana’s chatty drive down. “Shut up, Poiana” became a favorite saying on the road. But despite, or perhaps because of Poiana’s pickiness, her awful British pronunciation of Romanian, and needless updates, we had grown fond of our navigator. 1/3 of a very competent travel team, Poiana led us to our espresso machine-sauna-pool filled Bed & Breakfast, to a new apartment block we didn’t trust to be our destination, and to one of the most beautiful roads I’ve traversed.

Though paper maps work even when their batteries die, they’ll never voice the words you’ve been longing to hear: “You have arrived at your destination”.

Hit the Road, Jack

Footsteps in the sand dunes at  Khongoryn Els

Footsteps in the sand dunes at Khongoryn Els

“You know, I told you how I have been translating the Odyssey. I always read it as a tragic tale of Odysseus’s struggle to find his way home. Now I understand more and more what Dante and Tennyson wrote about it, that he wasn’t lost, but that after the wonders he had seen, Odysseus couldn’t, perhaps didn’t want to, return home.” The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason

“We’re within inches of the perfect distance from the sun,
the sky is blueberries and cream,
and the wind is as warm as air from a tire.” “The Charm Of 5:30” by David Berman

The Van

The Van

Peeling my thighs from the seat of our Soviet Russian van, I slipped on my sandals, straps and buckles dangling and dinging like wind chimes, and hopped out. Sam had his Frisbee ready as I walked into place some meters away. Several 3-5 year-olds joined our catch-and-throw, Sam slapping his hands together like a crocodile chomping to demonstrate a proper catch. Whether or not the kids improved, we had to leave after a few minutes. Kicking off my sandals in the van, straps dusty from the sandy clay ground, I fell asleep once more.

“Do you have Backstreet Boys?” Another Gobi-ready van with blinking neon lights blasted Western and Mongolian pop music through the valley. After our first shaman ceremony, we celebrated the normalcy of dancing to catchy tunes. As “I Want it That Way” began, Petra, Sam, and I jumped around like toddlers after a lollipop. Taking the children’s hands, our Mongolian saturnalia continued until the moon rose high enough to wash away the starlight. I hadn’t seen stars like that in decades (excepting the few previous nights), but I was too busy singing and laughing to notice the moon and stars.

The Sky in the Gobi

The Sky in the Gobi

The last night, we slept outside, three S Shaped Sleeping bags spooning closer together for warmth. When I shimmied back into my bag after a predawn pee, I could feel Sam and Petra inching towards me once more, their bodies yearning for the heat of their friend.

“Whoa, did you see that one?!” Even after seeing ten shooting stars blaze across the sky, I couldn’t keep my giddiness to myself. Petra or Sam would nod or let out an “Ooooooh!” to accompany mine, the other having missed it. Then we returned to our puzzle. “A man goes into a pub in the desert, orders his meal, eats it, then walks out onto the path of an oncoming train. Why?” We hopped from question to question, uncovering more of the story until we could finally tell it ourselves. Our story told, we arched our necks backward and watched the sky’s play out until we were too tired to keep our lids open.

The Making of Shot of Petra Jumping and Sam Capturing

The Making of Shot of Petra Jumping and Sam Capturing

One last riddle: What do you get when you add a van, a reliable driver, a gracious guide, a Slovenian-Swiss girl who uses floss to repair tents and falls out of her seat as often as I do, a German guy who throws Frisbee by day and dances rumba by night, and me? Team Tao: Five humans traveling across Central Mongolia and the Gobi Desert singing, dancing, solving riddles, throwing Frisbees, farting (and yelling “Tallyho!” afterwards) eating, drinking, laughing, star-gazing, story-telling, being together ❤

Parks and Recreation

As I leave Europe and enter Asia, I reflect upon the places I’ve felt happiest. With the exception of cities in which I met unforgettable people, the places that come to mind recall rolling hills more than flashing lights: the air here smells as green as a freshly mown lawn, as wet as an afternoon before the storm sets in, as unpredictably fresh as a city park can be. It is easy to go back to these places. I just need to close my eyes and breathe.

I remember watching the purple-pink-orange sunsets splay across the sky at the ostrich farm in Bulgaria.

I remember tipsily looking over Chateau Vartely’s terrace to the storm clouds marching toward us across the valley.

Łazienki Palace

Łazienki Palace

I remember serendipitously finding myself lost in Warsaw’s Łazienki Park, six story trees blocking the city beyond and rain above.

The Bogs of Lahemaa

The Bogs of Lahemaa

I remember paddling through the bogs of Estonia’s Lahemaa National Park, smirking at my Oompa Loompa orange skin, stained by the peaty water.

I remember Peter the Great watching over me in Moscow’s Gorky Park, where I spotted rollerbladers rolling, ping-pong players whacking, and BMXers doing whatever it is that they do, all amidst fairy-lit cafes and reflecting lily ponds.

I remember much more than the airy moments I lingered in these parks and valleys. I remember how I smiled, my up-turned mouth holding its pose for long after.

The Baltics Broke Me

Cēsis Castle, Latvia

Cēsis Castle, Latvia

Gripping a candlelit lantern in my right hand and the ladder in my left, I squeezed into the dungeon. I thought I might fall to the stone below, but I arrived unscathed.

Bemused by my success, I realized that to figure out my limits, I had to test them. What better way to test limits than through travel?

In the Baltics, I tested various limits and in the process, broke. But all my pieces came back together again. Here’s what the Baltics broke:

View of the Ladder into the Cēsis Castle Dungeon

View of the Ladder into the Cēsis Castle Dungeon

  1. As I climbed up the ladder at the Castle in Cēsis, Latvia, I noticed an eraser-sized whole in the crotch of my jeans. I hope the couple beneath me didn’t see anything. If they did, at least I was wearing cute underwear.
  2. Waking up a few days ago, I heard a squeaky, hoarse pubescent boy speak when I opened my mouth. Horrified by my husky timbre, I nevertheless continued talking. Hey, it made people laugh 🙂
  3. Many cultures claim pride in their unbeatable drinking abilities. I haven’t been to Russia or Ireland, but I have witnessed Australians drink beer like camels prepping for a trek through the Sahara. Expect them to outdrink you. Expect to be hungover or drunk when you wake up the next morning. And expect the Aussies to keep drinking throughout the day to ward off hangovers (It works!).
  4. My jeans, voice, and liver all survived these events. Tragically, my favorite leather cross body purse did not. I hear they can fix anything in Hoi An. Here’s hoping.

    Deconstructing Subway in Riga, Latvia -Photo Credit: Crazy Aussie

    Deconstructing Subway in Riga, Latvia- Photo Credit: Crazy Aussie

  5. Drinking at party hostels like The Naughty Squirrel in Riga and Jimmy Jumps in Vilnius inevitably leads to potentially embarrassing situations, especially when you add single, cute 20 somethings traveling the world. But whether you shout that you’re “King of the World” like Leo or deconstruct a sandwich from Subway before eating it, most of the time, your dignity remains intact. Plus, at the next party you go to, your stories will have people snorting out their drink. Mission accomplished!

Soft & Lumpy: A Song of Wind and Walking

BRASOV SIGN

I Saw the Sign….in Brașov

After a week spent catching up (watching Kit Harington interviews, reading excerpts from Winds of Winter, refreshing my knowledge of the R+L=J theory), my soft, lumpy flesh was ready to move. Or rather, my mind told my soft, lumpy flesh it was ready to move.

Having lain in bed a few too many days reading and watching Game of Thrones, I decided the city I was staying in was indeed Braavos, not Brașov, Romania. Though nothing alike (one exists, one doesn’t), large monuments watch over both cities. In the case of Braavos, it’s a titan through whose legs you enter the city by ship (picture the Colossus of Rhodes). In Brașov –the real city– a Hollywoodesque sign of ten meter white block letters stands in the Carpathian Mountains above. After meeting some lovely Estonians who climbed up to the sign, I decided I would do it too.

The Hollywood Sign of Romania

The Hollywood Sign of Romania

Again, I had been lazing away the last six days in bed, fantasizing about dragons and snow-zombies. So my last day in Romania seemed a good time to finally get off my butt and let it feel some air.

My directions made sense (walk towards the sign, then up, towards the sign). For the day-trip, I wore a backpack with a few things inside: water, scarf, jacket, tablet computer. But as I started walking, I realized how heavy my backpack felt. The straps tugging at my shoulders, I strained my lungs trudging up the hill. When I took off my backpack to catch my breath, a dark sweat stain spread across the back of its forest green canvas. The Estonians said it took about forty-five minutes to get to the sign. Fat chance, I thought.

Though your body be soft and lumpy, finishing something physical often requires more mental mettle than brute strength. Each time I stopped to sip some water, I didn’t think of quitting, but instead how useless my body had been the preceding week. And that I would make sure to improve its usefulness during the following six months.

Cursing and wiping my sweat-salted eyes on my sweat-wicking dress, I wondered how much longer than the Estonians’ forty-five minutes it would take me to get to the top. But as I stepped from a forest-shaded trail to an expanse of sunny glade, I no longer cared. A friendly wind cooled my neck and brow as I shut my eyes and smiled. Even in Westeros, such a view would be precious.

The City Behind the B

The City Behind the B

When I finally reached the Brașov sign, I sat for a bit. Then I took some pictures, no small feat since I was forced to take them with no viewfinder or screen. As I turned off my tablet, the computer’s clock showed the time. How long had it taken my soft, lumpy flesh to reach the top? About forty-five minutes 🙂

Continued Thoughts on a Plane

The first time around, I offered helpful suggestions. Now, I offer blithely sarcastic frustrations, vignettes, and silly musings.

  1. I don’t understand the celebrities who recommend drinking lots of water and falling asleep during flights. I can’t fall asleep on planes (except for a drooly five minutes that ends when my chin bangs against my collar bone), and when free booze is offered, I take it. Does it dehydrate me? Probably (definitely), but then, when else are you going to be tipsy inside a cloud?!
  2. Speaking of beverages, why do the stewards come back to collect your cup after you’ve taken approximately two sips? Yesterday, I saw several passengers downing coffees and cokes before the stewards reached them with their garbage bags. They’re like a reverse Santa Clause who comes around once a sip, sack proffered, to make sure you know they really want your cup. News Flash Stewards: I know you want to return to your other duties, but what’s the point of offering me a free glass of red wine if I can’t enjoy it while watching 50 Shades of Grey?
  3. When you first board the plane, try as hard as you can to keep your person restricted to the 24 inches of carpet between the seats. Your bag should be behind you or in front of you, or else someone will get wacked. I don’t like getting wacked!
  4. Don’t be too smelly. There are lots of ways to do this, and I don’t feel I have enough authority to expound on personal hygiene, but one thing is certain: planes should never put asparagus on the menu.

    Pissoir Copenhagen

    “Excuse me while I use the pissoir” sounds so much nicer than “I need to take a piss”, doesn’t it?

  5. Don’t be too smelly. Though you may want to spruce up a bit pre-flight, that’s no excuse to smell like you showered in Chanel N°5. Marilyn may have slept in nothing else, but it’s better to present yourself clothed and unspritzed (or lightly spritzed, of which I am chicly guilty).
  6. Budget airlines are worth it IF AND WHEN you know what you’re getting into. Hidden fees, holier-than-thou employees, and airports hours from the city you were actually trying to reach help Ryanair keep its prices low. And though I’ve professed lifetime loathing for the company that advertises fares as low as £1, I admit that if you know all the details, their prices can be unbeatable. But if the price seems ridiculous, than the amenities offered probably will be too.

    Tower Copenhagen

    Church of Our Saviour, Christianshavn, Copenhagen

  7. Flying for the very young, old, and disabled is not always an easy, exciting experience. On my most recent flight, the woman that sat behind me was helped onto the plane by attendants pushing a wheelchair built for airplanes’ two foot aisles.
    A bit later, she asked for a plastic bag that had been underneath the wheelchair. The plastic bag, along with the wheelchair, had been taken away by the attendants, and could not be retrieved. It contained her diapers. The Swedish guys sitting next to me helped the woman translate her needs to the stewards, making jokes to lighten the mood (she was laughing too).
    I couldn’t help but think how simple getting up for the bathroom seems when you aren’t disabled or hampered by any health issues. One day, I will probably wear diapers. And I hope no one whisks them away before I need to use them. Because, really, there should be no shame in how you pee on a plane!
  8. Why do Europeans clap when the plane lands? Are they not expecting it?
  9. Before flying, you should be in tip-top form.
    As I was walking around Copenhagen, trying to “see everything” in four hours, my left foot began to drag and my limp grew more pronounced. My foot deepened to a putrid shade of zombie and felt like a bee-stung lip. I kept walking.
    At the airport, not distracted by the colors and pastries of Copenhagen, I acknowledged and cursed the pain. Then, from my left, I heard a sexy voice begging me to “put it down on” him. I followed Adam Levine’s crooning to a men’s clothing store, which I managed to stay in by telling the salesclerk I was shopping for my boyfriend. Luckily, my imaginary fella wears slim fit, because that’s all the store carried.
    Refreshed after Adam’s “lovin’”, I proceeded to my gate. There’s nothing like “Sugar” to dispel your worries and pain…which brings me back to my original point: be in tip-top form before flying. Don’t dance “so hard” at your farewell party, attempting to do things everyone knows you can’t (i.e. splits). I guess I’m saying that you should be responsible.* It just might save your foot.

    Marble Church Copenhagen

    A View of the Marble Church from Amalienborg Palace

  10. How do airplanes stay up? (Seriously, beyond the fuel, how? Thanks to Arthur Weasley for this one 😉

What have you always wanted to know about flying? Any remarkable stories from up in the air that made you question humanity, or praise it? And what bothers you the most about flying? What could your fellow passengers do to make the flight suck less?

LIEBSTER AWARD!

A HUGE THANKS to Not Lost Wanderer and Hobo In High Heels for nominating me for the Liebster Award: a chance for bloggers to support and congratulate other writers and photographers! It took me a bit to write this post, so I got nominated twice, which is why there are two sets of answers. Have fun learning about little ole me 😛

It works like this (thanks again to Not Lost Wanderer for spelling out the rules so succinctly! I copied yours below):

  1. Link back to the person that nominated you
  2. Answer the questions given by the nominator (find mine below my responses)
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers
  4. Create 11 questions for the nominees
  5. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs

My Responses Part One

1. Who is your one inspiration in life and why?
My Mom. I really don’t know how she works so hard, supports my whole family, and still manages to be the most empathetic person I’ve ever met. And all with a smile that rarely leaves her face!

2. If you could be any animal what would it be?
A dragon. I realize that’s a mythical animal, but dragons are pretty much kick-butt dinosaurs that fly and shoot fire FROM THEIR MOUTHS, so why not? Plus, I was born in the year of the dragon.

3. What one character would you want to be from any film and why?
Rose from Titanic. Because I would save space on that door for Jack.

4. What is the one destination you’ve always wanted to visit?
Mongolia. Because of Marco Polo, Genghis and Kublai Khan, all the Queens of Mongolia, the Eternal Blue Sky, fermented mare’s milk, and above all, the disruption and honesty of living a nomadic life.

5. What’s your favourite quote?
“It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” ~J.K. Rowling (via Dumbledore)

6.  Cats or Dogs?
Both? OK, dogs. They win because you don’t have to earn their love.

7. What is your dream job?
Travel show hostess. I would either be super weird or super fun to watch, but either way, would have a blast.

8. Why Blogging?
Because I love to write, and this is a more democratic platform from which to share my writing. Also, I love traveling and this is the easiest way to let people know what I’m up to.

9. Winter or Summer?
Winter because of the ending to The Dead:

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

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Winter in Boston, 2015

 

10. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars, but only because I haven’t really seen Star Trek. Sorry, Dad, it’s on my list.

11. What song best represents you and why?
“Go the Distance” from my favorite animated Disney movie Hercules. The song talks about traveling to find who you are: “I would go most anywhere to feel like I belong”. I should note that I am a confident young woman, and feel that I belong in many places. Perhaps I’m just searching for lots of places to belong ❤

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“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” ~Thoreau

 

Part Two, Or Sarah Should Post her Posts Sooner

1. What does a normal day in your life look like?
Right NOW, a normal day includes working part-time at two jobs in different cities, commuting, reading on said commute, and blogging when I can. I also eat, sleep, and hang out with my friends. And I talk to my mom most days. LOVE YOU MOM!

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A Room with a View of Boston (my life right now)

 

2. What is your coolest travel story?
There was a day in Épernay, France earlier this year in which I drank several champagne flights. I met all the local old men, made friends with Brazilians, walked a poodle with my scarf, and even made it back on the train. It ended up being the wrong train, but that didn’t really matter. Delicious memories!

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“I could not live without Champagne – in victory I deserve it, in defeat I need it” ~Napoleon, supposedly

 

3. What are three things on your bucket list?
~Horseback riding in Mongolia
~Trans-Siberian (technically I’m going on the Trans-Mongolian in a couple months…I’m counting it)
~ALL THE FOOD in SE Asia, but specifically Thailand and Vietnam

4. What is your least favorite travel destination?
This isn’t a destination, but I hate ferries. Truly, completely, and with vitriol usually reserved for Ryanair. It all began with a ferry from Athens to Santorini on which I insisted that tuna in a can is raw. I blame that ferry ride for my lapse in judgment, since all ferries lead to the River Styx.

5.What place have you always dreamed of visiting?
Mongolia. Because of everything said above!

6.What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?
The problem with the phrase ‘guilty pleasure’ is that you’re supposed to feel shame in your adoration of said pleasure. I have no shame in my love for Britney, fart jokes, and hooooooorrible puns.

7. What is one of your most embarrassing moments?
I once complained for about ten minutes about having to play in a wedding. The bride’s mother was in the room…OOPS!

8. What is your favorite thing about traveling?
I learn so much about others- and myself- while traveling. I usually forget most of the history tidbits I glean from city tours, but I always remember the people I meet, and the stories surrounding their culture. This coupled with gained self-knowledge is my favorite part of traveling.

9. What is the best thing anyone has said about your blog?

Someone said it made them want to travel. Job. Done.

10. Tell me about one of the best meals you’ve ever had!
Walking down a street in Brussels, myself and a fellow traveler noticed a life-size taxidermied cow staring down a short line of hungry, hungry humans. They were waiting to enter Amadeus, which has the best ribs I’ve ever had by far. My face was covered in sauce by the end of the meal.

11. What makes you happy?
The sky. My friends. Dropping my earbud in a glass of milk and realizing how ridiculous that sounds. All the little things, and some of the big ones too 🙂 (Also traveling 😉 )

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Opera Garnier, Paris makes me happy

 

My Questions

  1. If you could be one food or beverage, what would it be and why?
  2. What is the funniest thing that’s happened on your travels?
  3. What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?
  4. What is your favorite travel book and/or film?
  5. What is the worst food/drink you’ve ever tried?
  6. What  character would you be from any film and why?
  7. What place have you always dreamed of visiting?
  8. What was your last post about?
  9. What is the dirtiest place you’ve ever been? (Choose to answer how you will)
  10. What inspires you to travel?
  11. What makes you happy?

The Nominees 

Julia from Small World This Is
Elin from Wanderlusting
Flat Tires and Slow Boats
From PC to PC
Janna from Janna Jetsets
Claire from Accidentalism
Circle to Circle
Dixie from Life’s Loose Threads
Jane & Steve from Travel Vicariously with Jane & Steve
Rekha from Oh! Fernweh
Danielle from Travels of a Broke Girl