When I set out on my adventures a year ago I had little plans in regards to where I would go, who I would stay with, or how the hell I would DO IT! I had learned about this website called Workaway.info where you can find people to host you… and figured I would give it a go. Fast forward a year and I have been hosted by 7 different families/businesses and have spent time in 7 different countries.
Because I have stayed in countries for a month or two, I feel like I really became part of the community and formed connections with the people and culture. I’ve learned how to say dirty things in both Spanish and Italian (obviously super necessary), I’ve gotten lost plenty of times in the zig-zagging streets of new cities, I’ve shared SO MANY meals with different people from all walks of life and from all over the world, I’ve sat in groups of people and had absolutely NO IDEA what the conversation was about, and I’ve had too many moments to count when I thought to myself, “HOLY SHIT… never did I ever imagine that I would be…_______ (fill in the blank)”.
Living out of a small backpack and going about my life in a fly by the seat of my pants type of way has brought my sense of “being alive” to a whole new level!!! I nearly forget what “normal” life is all about. I often get asked what I used to do in the USA and it’s strange for me to explain that YES – I had a good job as a Director of a School and Brain Training Center… YES – I had a home and all that good stuff… YES – I know how to drive and had a car… YES – I went to university and have a MBA… NO – I am not studying nor am I a student… NO – technically I am not working currently… NO – I am not 24 or 25 (I LOVE THIS ONE) – but I’m actually 31….
After each of these exchanges when a new person and I are getting to know each other… their response is usually something along the lines of, “YOU have a GREAT LIFE!” And you know what – I AGREE – I do have a great life!! And it’s not by luck. Or by chance. Nor was it handed to me.
I decided to stop thinking about the life I dreamed of… and instead took action to start living the life I wanted – a life of travel and adventure. There are times of doubt and loneliness… other times of thinking “holy shit what the hell am I going to do about x,y or, z” – and also times of thinking that maybe I should return back to a sense of normalcy (a home, job, stability, familiarity).
But when I truly reflect on what I want now in life… I wouldn’t change a thing. I am learning and growing so much as a human being by the experiences I am having (and will have) as a result or traveling. It’s not something you can create in a classroom or learn by reading books or watching documentaries. It’s the everyday adventure of navigating a foreign place!
I still have my super ambitions and am working towards what I want in my future – it might not be at a ferocious and stressful place like in the past… but I still love applying myself and my creativity to creating the life I want and what makes me feel fulfilled and ALIVE. In many ways travel was washed away a lot of my worries. I’m a total Type-A, over-thinking, crazy person –my mind is a NON-stop thinking machine! However with travel, there have been so many moments (and people) that have made me realize the importance of truly embracing and observing the world around me.
Here are 12 of my “observations” and experiences from my first year abroad (because I know there will be many more to come!).
1. Being on tour with 7 dudes for 3.5 weeks – It’s how this whole crazy journey started! My roommate for 2.5 years in Cali was going on tour with his band (Suburban Legends) in England for a few weeks and invited me along to help sell merchandise at the shows. 17 shows in England, Scotland, and the Netherlands and I must say – watching them perform NEVER got old! It was so much fun and I’m so happy I got to experience being “on the road”. I have so much respect for musicians after seeing the hard work and energy they put into their art!! 2. Walking 100 kilometers on El Camino in Spain – I told my hosts in Spain that I like hiking during our initial Skype meeting– so they did a bit of research and found this trek! We only had 4 days so we decided to trek the last 100k on the El Camino pilgrimage. It was an experience let me tell ya!! After the first day our feet were destroyed, we slept in random refuges and hostels… pretty much wherever we could find a bed! We decided to beat the crowds and start walking at 2:30am on our second day– crazy. So there we were… 3 chicks walking through the woods in the pitch black and slight rain haha! WHAT an experience!
Santiago de compostela, Spain – after walking 100k on El Camino de Santiago
3. Romeria in Tenerife – This festival was held on my first weekend in Tenerife. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on but was told there was a “party” in our local village that everyone was going to. Once we drove up the street a few minutes to the main road in town I was SHOCKED to see such chaos and so many people partying in the streets! There were carts pulled by ox that had people pouring wine and handing out free food – WHAT WHAT? Is this heaven? Seriously!!!! There was cart after cart of people just giving away free food and drinks – HELL YEA!!! I was with my co-volunteers and the owners from the hostel. We had a blast eating and drinking all day long and then ended up in the town square for a concert after. Nearly two months later another town had their Romeria festival (La Laguna) and a bunch of us went to explore and party – CRAZY fun times! 4. Drinking homemade wine and eating mystery food with the old man in his field in Tenerife – OOOOOH this one is one of my favorites considering the semi-creepy circumstances I was in haha! I was on my way back to the hostel where I was living/volunteering after going on an overnight hiking and camping trip. I was DEAD tired, super dirty, and just wanted to sleep considering the night before I was in a tent in a cave with many questionable sounds and barely slept a wink! I was trudging along the road on the 20 minute walk from the bus stop to the hostel when our neighbor stopped on his tractor and offered me a ride (in Spanish… which I BARELY spoke or understood). I decided to hop on the tiny little bench in the back of this tiny trailer and off we went – yeaaa sweet relief! NOT SO FAST. Instead of going straight to the hostel the old man made a turn and headed for his field. It was getting dark so when we walked into the gate he pointed over to this table and chairs in this little rickety shack. There are creepy kittens wondering about (yes you read they right – they looked creepy)… and birdcages with finches hanging from the ceiling. He offered me some homemade wine and then proceeded to pile loads of food onto a plate. I’m still not sure exactly what I ate but it was freaking delicious!!!! He attempted communicating with me but all I could understand was that he had a few kids and his wife had died. He was super sweet and kind and we had a pleasant time. He kept giving me wine and food…and more wine and food. After a little while he walked me to the gate that connected his property to the hostel and bid me farewell. A moment I will NEVER forget! I don’t have a photo of the old man but here is another of me at Romeria instead!
Spontaneously drinking wine from a stranger’s satchel in Tenerife
5. Driving on the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland – During my 3 month stay in Ireland I had met an Irish lad and we spent every weekend together exploring and sightseeing. The most epic adventure by far was driving part of the Wild Atlantic Way which is the longest coastal drive in the WORLD – it goes up the western coast of Ireland and is packed with breathtaking views! Some of the highlights were Mizen Head, the Dingle Peninsula, Killarney (we spent the night there), The Gap of Dunloe, Cliffs of Moher, and the Burren… SO SO SO many amazing and beautiful sights!
Mizen Bridge on Mizen Head
The Gap of Dunloe
6. Hiking in Tenerife
- My first hiking trip alone where I took a wrong turn and ended up HIGH on a cliff (I kinda made my own trail). I later learned that most people do this particular hike downhill since it is HARD. However, I ended up going UP the mountain first (to a little village called Chinamada)… and then made the trip back down. It was so challenging but the views it!
- Overnight cave camping & snorkeling naked
Started from the bottom now we’re here… at the peak!
Hiking in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain (off the coast of Morocco)
7. Eating at a Sicilian family’s home for Sunday lunch (and just eating in general)
– Guichinches in Tenerife – located in a vineyard, they serve delicious meats and potatoes along with their homemade wine. It is super cheap and you leave SUPER stuffed!
Meat, potatoes, eggs, and wine – 100% Canarian 😉
– Gelato in Rome & Eataly
– Homecooked meals in Seville – The mother of my host family (who is the mother of my host from Madrid) – made the most epic lunches and dinners EVERY DAY!!! We ate meat, fish, soups, salads, and the BEST wine. Once again… I just couldn’t stop eating haha.
– Family style dinners at the hostel in Faro – I was super impressed by the dinners organized at this hostel. They really focused on creating a nice dinner for everyone (guests included). We would eat outside on the back patio and have a great time chatting with people from all over the world!
Wine tasting at Cafe Brazil in Tenerife
8. The hours upon HOURS I spent walking around cities alone and “getting lost – This is by far one of the most simple, yet most enjoyable parts of traveling. I love to “just go”. I rarely make solid plans or research my destinations. I love to wander about and uncover the nooks and crannies of each city. Sometimes I would be walking for up to 8 hours per day without barely stopping!!! (Which is much needed after all the eating haha).
Striking a pose at Temple of Debod with my hosts
9. International affairs….I’m referring to romance baby! – Two weeks before I boarded the initial plane to London I became single. I had unintentionally met a guy in Pennsylvania and we hit it off. Right from the start I expressed my mission to travel the world but we still decided to give it a go (even though his situation was the OPPOSITE of mine – he was going through a divorce with two kids! Aaaaah!). But as my trip neared it all just seemed too crazy to make it work considering I couldn’t give an answer as to when I was returning. Therefore, when I embarked on my trip I thought “I’m just not going to date while I travel.”—- pppphhaaahahaah nice try Lindsay! But now I realize it is all part of the experience! I robbed the cradle in Spain by dating a 22 year old (I was 30 at the time!). Dated an Irish lad for 5 months. And now I am so smitten with an Italian guy I met in Sicily. HEY – If I dated for nearly 15 years and didn’t find my partner in the USA… it’s my sign that my love of my life is somewhere ELSE in this world – right? Right? 😉
10. Watching the sunset above the clouds with a view of a volcano in Tenerife, Spain, Canary Islands – I’ll just let the picture do the talking…
this used to only be in my dreams… sunset above the clouds at Teide in Tenerife!
Teide – the highest mountain of Spain and the islands of the Atlantic
11. Dancing in the disco til 5am in Madrid – My first weekend in Madrid was my host’s birthday. We went out for a yummy Mexican dinner and then danced the night away at a disco. I was so wrapped up in dancing and having a blast that I didn’t realize it was nearly 5am!!! My hosts told me that we were actually going home “early” – and that it was pretty typical to party til 6 or 7 am. I just can’t hang like I used to haha! It doesn’t matter what time I go to sleep I still tend to wake up in the 7 o’clock hour. And I hate being dead tired when I’m trying to explore and see new sights – but every once in a while I can rock out haha!
Dancing til the wee hours of the morning
12. Making new friends – Each place I go brings with it new faces, new languages, new customs, and new conversations! One of the delights of this past year has been making friends from all over the world. In the beginning of my travels I was focused more on the country and sights…. Now I realize that what truly matters to me is the people!!! I’m such a people person and I love to chat and learn about people’s lives. Even though I may only be physically with the person for a few weeks or months… I know that should we ever be in the same place again – we would pick up where we left off!
AWESOME international friends I met in Rome….from Chile & Australia