I had always dreamt of living overseas or backpacking around the world for an extended timeframe. So as I approached 30 we made a plan to travel around the world for 12 months. We planned the trip for a couple of years before hand, saved up holidays from work, sold most of our stuff, (including my car and rode a bike everywhere), rented the house out, tried to keep a business running while we were away, organised visa’s, researched countries and tried to learn Spanish.
The plan was to fly to LA spend 2 days there and then fly to Mexico and make our way through central America for 3 months then back up to the USA, then Europe then South East Asia and then home.
I am a terrible traveller. I think the parasites can see me coming and plan a huge party in my gut, I am not good at moving every day or second day and I generally end up losing tones of weight due to the “diarrhoea diet”. But I love travelling. I love experiencing a new country, its sights, smells and sounds. It is exciting and exhilarating. I also love hearing and learning languages. So I was determined to backpack around the world, despite my susceptibility to illness.
From about the first few days in Mexico I started getting really sick. I was trying to stick to half decent restaurants, drinking bottled water only and being careful to not eat salads and ice. But I just kept feeling ill. I took antibiotics and tried other things but I think due to being burnt out before we left my body just kept getting sicker.
Burn out is a strange thing, at first you get little whispers, like catching the flu all the time, felling ill, just little warning signs that you need to slow down. I of course did not listen to any of these. But if you don’t listen to them they get louder and louder, until you get hit upside the head and then by a truck where your body says “no more”.
But true to form, just like with work, I kept travelling and moving and exploring every day. I told myself that I had planned this trip for years and only had 12 months to have off work before I was supposed to have “IT” all figured out and get back into working again (crazy).
But the universe had other plans. I could not escape the illness. The only way to describe it is it felt like my body was rejecting everything that I put into it. So we decided to come home only after 2 months. Much, much earlier than planned.
I still don’t really know how I feel about it after all the planning and saving and sacrifice. I set out to backpack for 12 months and really didn’t make it that far. It is not a feeling of failure anymore but just disappointment. But I think the judgment has been from myself to myself. And maybe it happened for a reason, I don’t know, and I probably never will.
But I do know that we backpacked for 2 months, saw amazing ruins, climbed pyramids, saw flamingoes, started sketching a painting again just for me, gambled in Vegas, stood in awe at the Grand Canyon, road tripped in the USA and turned a long held dream into action even if it didn’t turn out the way I planned. For all of this I am so, so grateful.
It’s been a journey ever since. A journey in listening to the whispers, to my body, to my dreams and putting my health and dreams before that of pleasing others. This is for sure something that I have to remind myself of every day though, and still often catch myself out.
Marilyn Monroe might have been onto something when she said that sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.