- The state of Florida is larger than England, yet England has the strongest currency in a world that they managed to take over most of. Lucky me that they did, now English is pretty well the world’s language.
- A carving of an elephant with the trunk up means “Good Luck”. If the trunk is down, it means “Happiness”.
- The Sphinx in Egypt only seems as big as it does because it is always photographed from the front with the pyramids at a good distance behind it, giving a false size reference.
- You can only buy alcohol from the government in Sweden.
- Oktoberfest in Bavaria/Germany is in September. (They were hoping the name would throw off the tourists?)
- Italian ice cream is worth going to war over.
All these things seem so small, but after spending most of the year abroad, I find myself stumbling around like a little kid with newly opened eyes, amazed by the smallest things that I used to take for granted. After spending almost 4 months in Southeast Asia, I giggled with delight the first time that I filled a glass of tap water to drink and cut myself a block of real cheese. Once home, I found myself still wanting to check my shoes for creepy crawlies before I put them on in the morning. Having been removed from my usual surroundings, I was given a nice reference point to help see the big picture of how I was living. I thank God every day that I was not born in some of the places I visited.
Don’t worry, I am not going to dig out my vagabonding soapbox and preach about how experiences last forever and material things like electronic toys and clothes break or go out of style. No, my close friends know that I would never do that. Instead, I just wanted to take a post to be open with whoever has been reading this blog throughout my adventure this year.
Undoubtedly, it has been one hell of a year. I wish I had $1 for every time someone said “I’m so jealous, you are so lucky”. I would like to tell them that thanks to the hospitality of dear friends in Europe that I met while traveling, and sacrificing some luxuries in Asia, ok – a LOT of luxuries, the entire time that I was traveling, I was living cheaper than I could have here in Kentucky. Coming from a country where less than half of the people have passports and half live within 100 miles of where they grew up, it seems like a strange concept to sling on a rucksack and buy a one way ticket. Honestly, anyone can do it and everyone should sometime. You do not have to be rich (more than half the travelers I met were poor university students or dropouts). You do not have to be male to survive. (probably 3 out of 5 women I met were traveling alone). I am now convinced that it really only takes a heart that wants to do it.
I still consider myself a travel newbie. BUT, I do feel like I have broken through into something new. Something big. Even at home, it feels like I am still traveling…looking at an Atlas makes my heart race and my blood boil, and all small purchases that I make are still converted to Baht (Thai currency) and large purchases are contrasted with flight prices! For better or worse, I do not think that this is going away soon….and I love it!