Saturday, January 30, 2010

Take the Donkey

You know when something seems like a great idea and then by the time you realize it really isn't, you are in way too deep to do anything about it? 

Yes, well in this particular case it was kind of a near-death experience...

It all began one misty day at Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador. This was the most incredible volcanic crater lake (okay, the only one) I have ever seen. 

"Want to climb down the mountain to get a better look?" 

"Of course!" 

So, on we went, traversing the slightly trodden and very uneven terrain, sliding and almost falling when there was no solid place to put your feet. We reached the base of the crater and the lake was even more deliciously teal, and the place more serene than it had seemed from the top. It was worth the trek down. 

We spent a few minutes soaking up the photo ops, chatting with some local people, and just taking it all in before we decided to head back up. A boy no more than six, with rosy-cheeks common to the native local people, was selling burro rides back up the mountain. 
Fellow adventurer: "You should take the donkey so you don't get tired." 

Unsuspecting me: "I'll be fine, plus I trust my own feet better than that donkey!" Let's do this. 

Two whole minutes into 

No, not hard,  it was more like deciding to climb a mountain immediately after running a 5k, with a 20 pound weight on your back, all the while breathing only through one if those tiny straws they drop in your cocktail at the bar! 

This high altitude is not a joke. I think I am going to die. I am going to die right here on this mountain. What exactly does a heart-attack feel like? I am not going to make it. Okay, my family would not be pleased if I died right here. I have to keep going. It's okay...I am almost...HALFWAY?! 

Great. I wonder if it would be worse to go back down and get the donkey? I should have listened. 

Somehow, and only narrowly escaping death, I finally made it back to safety more exhausted than I can ever remember being in all of my existence. I am alive! I am alive and it was worth it. No matter how healthy and fit you think you are, or how macho and proud you are feeling that day, trust me...take the donkey. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Me & Australia

I think I have found the one. That's right, I am in love, and her name is Australia. She is beautiful, unique, and perfect for me in every way...she gets me. She lets me enjoy the city, the beach, culture, shopping, and art all at once. What more could a girl ask for? I know what you're thinking, she's there and I'm here, but we are making the long distance thing work. Sometimes she sends me gifts from Sportsgirl, my favorite store in the world (Australia, you really know the way to my heart). When I really miss her, I go back into my photo album and look at her and I having fun, and reminisce. Sigh. Oh the beautiful mornings when I would walk down to The Rocks and enjoy a delicious Belgain waffle and hot chocolate for brekkie, and watch the firefighters come down from their post to grab a bite. Hey, I'm allowed to look...The days spent eating Chish and Fips at Coogee beach. The hours and hours of shopping she allowed me at every juncture, she even put shops at the train station, so I can buy while I travel. You see how she's always thinking of me? We even try new things together, she introduced me to my very first kanga-jerky. Sure there may be others that have loved her, but she and I have something special, something real. Australia, you had me at g'day...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dream or Nightmare?

Now I'm dreaming about traveling?! Wow. My body is so acutely aware of the lack of traveling it has experienced of late, that if I am not traveling in my waking life, it is content to travel in various stages of REM. The dream involved booking a trip to Dubai, preparing, packing, and getting ready, only to decide that I couldn't manage the trip due to a lack of funds. WHAT?? Did I not have my credit card? Isn't this supposed to be a dream? A place where all my greatest wants and wishes are manifested? Wow. I can't even get on a plane in a dream! That must have been a nightmare. Anyhow, turn the TV on. Travel Channel...of course. Can't I be content to live vicariously through Anthony Bourdain as he eats freshly caught fish doused in coconut on a Gaugin painting-esque atoll somewhere in French Polynesia before swimming with black-tipped sharks? No! I want to live vicariously through myself! (The Dos Equis guy definitely had the right idea...) I want to eat fresh fish on a remote island and swim with sharks too! On second thought...he can keep the swimming with sharks part...but I want the rest! Tantrums. Must be another stage in this disease. Sigh. Maybe Andrew Zimmern can raise my spirits...but somehow I doubt that. That was definitely a nightmare.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Bug Made Me Quit

You see, I always thought corporate life was for me. I imagined myself as Aileen Marshall, business woman and owner of Marshall's stores, for a 3rd grade class project. I know...Marshall's? I was 8 and living in Europe, Macy's, Nordstrom, and Neimans were not part of my vocabulary. It was Marshall's. I got dressed up in the most professional kids attire in existence, and I delivered my idea of the most glamorous job I could think of and how I was going to love it. HA! The things you learn as you get older! It wasn't until I arrived in Corporate America that I realized the grey-ish colored carpeting covering the four walls of my cubicle (which mind you, some people love...makes for easy use of push-pins!) the incessant shouts of "Tara?! Can you...? Oh, and can you also...?" and the never ending minutia, was killing me slowly! I had to get out. I had to be free to travel. But who quits in a recession? Nevermind that. I would quit and be able to travel to my heart's desire! I could go everywhere! Anywhere! ...But then there was the small problem of having no money to fund these excursions...and then the other problem of not wanting–ahem–not being able to find work. This is bad. The travel bug made me quit.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Was Normal...Once

I did live a normal life...for a time. I went to high school. I went to college (and didn't even study abroad! WHAT WAS I THINKING?! I guess I must have momentarily lost my mind). I joined clubs in school. I got an internship. I got hired right out of college, which seemed utterly amazing at the time. I was working in the fashion business. Fashion and Business? Perfect. I went along enjoying work for a time, until of course I realized my life had come to a tragic end sitting in an office every day! Day after day after day...and then, the magic happened. I got laid off! Woo-hoo! It's a celebration! And a severance package?! Fantastic! Yes, I realize I should have been upset/stressed/worried, but I was ecstatic! I took that opportunity and flew with it. I went to Dubai, Sharjah, Bahrain, and then came back and "looked" for work, then, since I just couldn't find a single thing...I went to Germany, Morocco, Amsterdam, Tennessee (I know...but hey, Tennessee needs visitors too!) And then, the fun came to an abrupt (well, I guess after 8 months, it wasn't that abrupt) halt when I got a job offer. I should take this right? But what about my love affair with travel? I have to take this. I took it. Back to normal–deadly boring–life. I did manage to go to Australia, San Francisco (twice), Ecuador, New York (twice) and D.C. while working there...I guess it wasn't all that bad. See? I was normal once...kind of.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Doomed From the Start

I guess I should explain how I contracted this disease. The truth is, I never had a chance. The travel bug knew me before I knew myself, and took the first opportunity it got to bite me. Long before I was even thought of, my own father contracted the bug, and decided the best remedy was joining the military. He wanted to travel, and travel he did. My mother, a free and energetic spirit, took any opportunity for a weekend excursion with friends. To make my chances of living a normal life even worse, my mother and father met when they were both, guess what? TRAVELING. Yes, they met on vacation. There was no way I could have ever lived a life without travel. I may as well have gotten my passport the same day I got my birth certificate, because I took my first flight on an airplane at the ripe age of two months old. From that point on, no year ever passed in my life where I did not go somewhere. And the traveling didn't end there. We were a military family. Born in Florida. Moved to Germany. Moved to England. Moved to California. Traveled to Trinidad & Tobago every year in between as soon as school was out for summer. Not to mention various other trips here and there: France, Austria, name a few. We were everywhere and I loved every minute of it! Traveling and I are one. I really was doomed from the start.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

This is a Disease...

So you have to know you've got a problem when the ever repetitive (and usually annoying) sound of the security announcement at the airport conjures up an overwhelming need to travel somewhere, ANYWHERE. "This is a security announcement..." Sigh. Why am I here again? Oh right, picking someone up. What if I just get on a plane? Terminal 4? Quantas. Australia? Perfect. I'm ready to go, I'm not working so it's not like I need to ask for the time off...I can go. Crap. Forgot to bring my passport! I should start carrying that thing on me like a driver's license to avoid situations like this. Nevermind the small fact that I have no personal effects with me to speak of, but that would have been easily remedied with a few trips to the oh-so-fantastic Sportsgirl store. Yes, I could have gone straight from the Sydney airport to Sportsgirl. Actually, knowing the abundant availability of shopping in that city, I may have even found some trendy shops right in the airport! Aaahh, it would have been great. Sigh. I guess I will just collect my passenger and head home. Can I go somewhere? Anywhere? I need to have my travel fix, it has been three whole months since I last set foot on a plane! This is a disease...
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