Half a year. 6 months. 26 weeks. 182 days. 4,368 hours. 262,080 minutes. 15,724,800 seconds. No matter what way you look at it – it’s been a long time since I left Toronto on that overcast afternoon on September the 28th. The idea of 6 months on the road seemed as if it was an eternity.
Yet it still feels like I left just yesterday.
I remember giving both my parents hugs and feeling the pang of guilt I always feel when I take off somewhere new – knowing that while they support me, no matter what I choose to do, deep down they wish they could have me at home. I can still feel the tears rolling down my cheeks as I told them I’d be fine and I’d see them when they came to visit me. I can remember composing myself and heading through security – then giving one look back and the look on my mom’s face – it broke my heart. I remember breaking down crying in front of the security woman and her consoling me, as they put the items from my carry-on through the x-ray scanner. I wasn’t sad that I was leaving – it was the fact that I knew it was killing my parents watching me leave – not knowing when I would be coming back.
As I reflect on everything I’ve done in the last six months, it boggles my mind that so much time has passed. I’ve met so many amazing people and reconnected with countless old friends. My passport has eight new stamps and I’ve been to four countries – two of which I hadn’t been to before. I’ve lived in a hostel for three weeks – meeting new travelers every day. I’ve also lived in two flats – paying rent – and have had seven different flatmates. I’ve had one job as a bartender and have lived unemployed for the last three months, thanks to a combination of lack of jobs in the area, being a foreigner, and my own laziness when it comes to continuing to pursue a job after handing in my resume and speaking with the manager. I’ve been horseback riding, four-wheel-driving, standup paddleboarding, abseiling, camping, and fishing. I’ve attempted surfing. I’ve jumped out of an airplane. I’ve been to three concerts. I survived my first holiday season abroad without family. I’ve been on two roadtrips with another coming up in a few weeks. I’ve even had the opportunity to try strange new dishes – kangaroo; crocodile; jellyfish; paua; and beef cartilage curry, just to name a few.
So what have I learned?
The Universe works in mysterious ways.
As I mentioned in my “Having to Take My Own Advice: Flexibility” article, I believe the universe throws signs out to us to let us know what the right path may be.
I miss people from back home – not the place – the people.
I don’t miss Toronto. I don’t miss the traffic. I don’t miss the drama and the same old hum drum in the small town I grew up in. I miss my parents, my sister, my best friend, my close friends, my aunts and uncles and cousins and my grandma. And I miss my dog! Good lord I miss my dog.
It can get lonely and monotonous – even when you’re surrounded by friends.
It can get lonely. When I’m living the hostel life – after a few weeks I always long to have a more meaningful connection with someone like the type of connection I have with my friends. When I’ve been living in flats, it can get lonely because everyone else around is living their ‘grown up life’ with their real job and responsibilities and I sometimes feel as though I don’t exactly fit in and that people may look at me differently because I have shirked that type of lifestyle.
As for the monotonous comment, when you settle in one place for a while as I have been doing – you get into a routine, whether that routine revolves around working, or simply occupying yourself while everyone else is working their jobs, quite simply put – it can get boring. I find that I often get bored with my own company, whether I’m cooped up in my flat or out driving around finding things to see and do.
There are always going to be haters.
People are going to be jealous that you’ve gone out and lived a life they aren’t prepared to live because they aren’t willing to make the same sacrifices and compromises you have. In order for me to be where I am now I’ve had to live at home while I watched all my other friends move in with significant others, or rent or buy their own houses or condos. Since my breakup with THE ex, I’ve shirked long-term relationships or anything too serious, for fear of it getting in the way of my travels. I worked my BUTT off at a job I hated, putting in 50-60hr work weeks, living a schedule opposite to normal 9-5ers (I was a waitress at a very busy bar and often worked the evening/night shift). I didn’t buy brand new clothes every season. I stopped buying dvds to add to my collection. Every choice I made revolved around my future travels. I’m not lucky. I worked my ass off for this.
One family member told me, “you better enjoy my time now because you’re living in a wonderland and eventually you will have to go home to reality.” No. This IS my reality, but thanks for the vote of confidence.
Snail Mail is the best thing in the world and will always put a smile on your face.
So what happens next?
In two and a half weeks my parents will arrive for their much-anticipated visit. I will meet them in Auckland and we plan on road tripping around the North Island, eventually making our way back up to Ahipara for our last few days in the country. With my bag packed for Africa, I will say goodbye to my friends, my flat, my car and my laptop for two months and my parents and I head to Sydney for a week. During that week I intend on showing them all the reasons why I am in love with that city and why I wish to one day make it my home. They will leave Sydney, Hong Kong bound on May 3, leaving me to fend for myself for a few days before I jump on a plane headed for Cape Town.
I then will spend four days in Cape Town before Sue, my mom’s best friend, joins me. Together we have two days before we head out on our overland tour with Nomad Adventure Tours – who have kindly asked me to blog about my experience with them and gave me and Sue discounted prices on our tour. We will spend twenty days on tour, exploring and camping our way through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and eventually ending in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Sue and I will part ways at the beginning of June as she will head back to Toronto and back to her job.
I, on the other hand, have signed up to volunteer for two weeks at Antelope Park outside of Gweru, Zimbabwe with ALERT (African Lion and Environmental Research Trust). I will be working side by side these amazing and majestic creatures. Along with working with lions, elephants and horses, I get to go into town a few times per week and visit the orphanage to give some local kids some love. This is undoubtedly going to be a life-changing experience.
After all that is said and done I will return back to New Zealand, come back to the Far North to collect my things and say goodbye to all my friends and then July 1st I will start making my way down south, in hopes of finding some work for the remainder of my time here in New Zealand.
It’s a busy next couple of months, but I intend to be as active on The Mellyboo Project as humanly possible – it may be a little difficult as I am chasing lions and camping with indigenous African tribes, but I’ll try my best. And at least you all know you’ve got heaps to look forward to reading about.
So I guess in closing this post, it’s been an awesome 6 months on the road… and here’s to many more adventures!
Mellyboo OUT! xx