I don't think I could be more ready to go home. Despite loving the past month in Bolivia, honestly, all I have been able to think about has been going home, back to my beloved Melbourne, my family and my fabulous friends and the beginning of my next chapter.
As I look back, the past four years have been a whirlwind, I have loved the experience of living and working overseas; something I have always wanted to do. I have had the opportunity to travel all over the world, another dream I have had since my teens. I might have been a late starter in the travel department but I certainly made up for lost time, conquering 27 countries over the past four years. Despite seeing and experiencing many countries my appetite for travel has far from been satiated, my list of destinations keeps growing and I feel totally at ease with being constantly outside my comfort zone. So much so that I actually wonder how I will cope once the excitement of my return dies down and real life takes over....
I can't begin to explain the enormous growth I have experienced this year, I have reinvented myself and feel like I have become who I really am. I know what I want, I am full of a ideas, granted some ridiculous and crazy. I have embraced the learning curve and gained an amazing appreciation for those people who I love and bring so much happiness to my life; despite many of them being so far away.
One question I am continually asked by friends and people I have met is "what was your favourite place?". The hardest question to answer.... I have thought about it a lot and its still really difficult to choose one place, each place and time during 2011 has had something special about it, a city, a trek, a person.... it's so hard to have a favourite.
After much consideration, I would have to say it is Antarctica. A mere 9 days out of the past 9 months, but such an incredible part of my adventure. I met some wonderful people, some of which will leave a permanent scar on my life, some who will be lifelong friends. The scenery is like nothing you have ever seen, so untouched and so awesomely beautiful. The wildlife is awe inspiring, to see a humpback whale rise up out of the water just meters away from you is breathtaking. To celebrate your birthday crossing the Polar Circle, watch hunting Orca Whales and drink champagne on the ship stern is a a once in a lifetime I wonder how it could possibly be topped.
Although Antarctica ultimately gets my vote as favourite, each country I have visited has had something that holds a special place in my heart, something overwhelmingly fabulous! Here is a little recap, from the beginning, for myself and those of you that skipped a few blogs ;)
England - Hotel Laycock, the only way to do the UK! My first white christmas shared with people who have shaped my life and brought me much laughter and tears during my time living in UAE.
Austria - New Year. Germ Den. Snowboarding holiday - ability to snowboard essential. Church bells. Snow. Effing cold. Enough said ;)
Scotland - Wild & Sexy... where else would I be!
Holland - Rebellion...red lights, cookies and cafes.
Costa Rica - The most incredible sunsets I have EVER seen, best Australia Day ever.
Brazil - Carnival. A buffet of costumes, glamour, samba, music, bloco's and celebrations
Argentina - Wild waterfalls, new friends, wine, cycling, tango, heartbreak...
Antarctica - The wildlife, the scenery, the people, the experience
Uruguay - Guacho style, ranch side, incredible sunrise
Colombia - Trudy & Alex, The Lost City, the Casio club, mud craters and salsa
Peru - the enormity of the Amazon, the Inca Trail, Macchu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, sandboarding, trekking the Cordiellias
Thailand - a beach wedding, great friends, my past life
USA - Jamie & Alex; my fav LA peeps, Florida; throwing pots & all things Southern with the ever fabulous J-Lee, NYC; my favourite city in the world, heat waves, Queens with Howard & Aponte, biking and gluttony with the Sass. Colorado; new skills, new knowledge and the addition of the 14ers to my to do list. Seattle, bachelor pad time with Ryan & Jackson, quality time with the original Starbucks. NOLS - Trip Leader course, new skills, enduring a little adversity in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Bolivia - my return to marketing, trekking the Yungas, the Salar de Uyuni, the diamond of Bolvia; Sucre... organic farming... a failed romance - ahhh you have to try to succeed ;)
This year has been the best of my life, and its not even over yet. It has brought wonderful new friends, new experiences and exceeded my expectations in so many ways. I feel that I have finally started living, that I have wandered onto my path and that I am truly blessed. I can't begin to explain how amazing it has been and how incredible the people are that have been a part of it.
The secret of happiness....Be satisfied... be grateful....
Its "The End" but really only just the beginning... stay tuned, future adventures are a certainty!