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Post Trip Blues

2017 has come to an end. It was an amazing year for me. A year of full of big changes in my life. It will probably be the most transitional period I’ll ever experience. I quit a job I loathed. I packed up my apartment and put all of my belongings in storage at my mom’s house. I said goodbye to my friends and family and embarked on a three-month solo trip that somehow turned into an eight-month trip. I tried things I thought I would never try. I did things I thought I would never have the balls to do. As scary as some of it was, I loved every second of it! Sure, there were experiences that were not ideal and times that I wasn’t happy but that’s life. Sometimes you have to experience the bad to really appreciate the things that are truly amazing.

Before I left for my trip, I thought that I would write weekly blog posts about the things that I was doing and seeing but for some reason, I didn’t want to do that. I’m still struggling to do that. I journaled a lot but didn’t feel like I wanted to share my experiences with the world. I haven’t even talked about many of my experiences with those closest to me. Maybe it was all so personal for me that I want to keep much of it for myself. They were my experiences, mine and mine alone. I feel almost protective of them. It was a sacred time for me. Maybe I’m still processing how many of those experiences made me feel. How they changed me deep down. How they are still changing me today.

Now that I’m back in Texas, I’m struggling to find balance in my life. I feel almost lost in a place that is very familiar. I feel like I have reverted back to many of the tendencies I thought I had rid myself of while taking this journey. Maybe those tendencies were always there and it was just harder to recognize because I was often very far out of my comfort zone and exposed to different ways of life. Maybe I’ll never really be rid of them and the only thing that changes are my circumstances.

I feel more confused now than I ever have before. Many people who have traveled for long periods of time told me that it would be difficult once I came back. That I would struggle to adjust back to a “normal” life. Well, the struggle is real and far worse than I anticipated.

I want many conflicting things. I miss having my own place. A place that is only mine where I’m surrounded by the material things I love. A place that is my personal sanctuary. But I also want to live out of a backpack with only the necessities and sleep in a different place each night. I want stability and routine but I also want a life where every day is different and unpredictable. I want a companion but also don’t want to be tied down to one person. I want responsibilities but I also want absolute freedom. I guess the bottom-line is that I have no idea what I really want.

The one thing I know for certain is that I miss traveling. I miss waking up in the morning and just wandering around some unknown place. Not having any idea what I will see, who I will meet and what I will do. Most days, I would just walk for miles and miles and it brought me a sense of peace. Calm tranquility. I keep telling myself that I can have the same experience here, at home in Austin but it just doesn’t feel the same.

So, I’m sitting here at the library, looking out the window, wondering what will come next. I thought this trip would help me decide what I wanted in life and who I really wanted to be. Or maybe it has and I’m just too much in my head to realize it. For now, each day will continue to present the same question. Now what?

I would love to hear from my fellow wanderers out there. How do you deal with these conflicting feelings? How did you decide if the nomadic lifestyle was for you? Please comment below!

 

 

 

 

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Pompeii, Italy

A few years ago, I took a trip to Italy with two friends. While planning, I had only one request. I didn’t care what else we did or where else we went, the one place in Italy I wanted to see most was Pompeii. We planned for a day at the end of our trip and I couldn’t wait!!

Every city we visited over our two weeks in Italy was amazing! The people were the most welcoming and hospitable people I have ever met. The food and wine were, of course, the most incredible food and wine I have ever tasted. We were having a great trip and I knew that Pompeii was going to be the perfect ending to our tour of Italy. The morning of, we got into our rental car and headed out of Rome to Naples where we stopped to have lunch. The pizza was delicious! Just as it had been in every pizzeria we tried on our trip. When we were full, we got back in the car and pressed on. By this time, I was antsy with excitement! We were so close!!

Finally, we see the sign stating Città Di Pompei! Here’s a fun fact! While researching, I discovered that Pompei with a single ‘i’ is the spelling for the modern city while the spelling for the ancient city is with two, Pompeii. We made our way to the entrance of the ancient city and walked down the long walkway that leads inside.

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The vastness of the ruins was startling. It was astonishing to see that not only had the people of ancient Pompeii achieved incredible architectural feats, but also that these structures have endured all this time. We wandered for a long while, taking in as much of the richness around us as we could. Every corner we turned held something amazing. The amphitheater that still stands today, the artwork that has survived the elements and the artifacts that still litter the ground.

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Everything was breathtaking, but after a few hours of walking, we still had not seen any of the bodies that seemed so prolific on my Google searches of Pompeii. By this time we were thirsty and began searching for the concession area. The June heat got to me and I couldn’t take it any more. I needed water. Eventually, we stumbled across a waterspout attached to a carved stone. The carving was a bit ominous. I hoped that the face was that of a sweet wild-haired man and not one of a horned demon waiting to curse me with Montezuma’s Revenge. As I put my lips to the water, I kept thinking to myself, “Please don’t get dysentery, please don’t get dysentery.” I expected the water to be hot and nasty tasting but instead it was cool and refreshing. It tasted very clean, if that’s a thing. I felt reenergized and impressed with myself for making such a risky move. Five minutes later, we found the concession area that I no longer needed!

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Then we started to see people crowding into a doorway. We walked over to see what they were looking at. It was a body encased in glass. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It gave me chills. I could see the skull of the man in the case. He looked like he was writhing in agony. We moved on. There were more cases. More bodies. Some cases just had bones scattered around.

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Eventually we made our way into an open area with several barred rooms containing more bodies and artifacts. A tour group was slowly walking ahead of us. They stopped in front of a room with the body of a man crouching down with his hands clamped to his face. A woman in the group exclaimed proudly, “He was praying to Jesus with his last breath!” The tour guide kindly replied, “Actually, he was probably covering his airways to reduce the amount of fumes and ash he inhaled.” The woman clearly didn’t like that, which I found amusing. She gave him an angry glare as my friend shot a picture of me, smirking next to the crouching man.

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We posed for our final pictures with Mount Vesuvius and the wreckage it caused as storm clouds loomed overhead. Mount Vesuvius is still an active volcano. It last erupted in 1944. Luckily, the damage was minimal and the casualties were few. But one has to wonder, when it erupts again, will modern day residents have enough warning to evacuate or will future generations look upon those ruins and see the same devastation we see from the AD 79 eruption? If you ever have the opportunity to visit Pompeii, take it! Pompeii is truly a marvel of the ancient world, an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

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