Today it’s our 2nd travel anniversary: 2 years ago today, we were leaving Dubai to travel the world. We were basically saying good-bye to life as we knew it.
Much has happened every since. You can read last year’s post about our 1st year traveling. This second year has been substantially different. When I waved good-bye to Dubai in the flight to Addis Ababa in September 2011 I felt a sensation of relief that mixed with the excitement made me the youngest person at heart in the whole world. Not that I feel old now, but I will probably never feel that way anymore: it was a once in a life-time thing, a dream coming true. It was me and my lover sticking up our middle fingers to a life of routine in a stuck-up place, and shouting out loud to the world:
We’re grabbing life by the horns and doing whatever the hell we want with it!
This was the spirit that made me fall in love with Ashray and that makes me fall in love with him over and over again. This is what keeps me going.
Some people still think we’re on the longest vacation ever. How many times have I heard the condescendent tone in people’s voice when they talk to us about our way of life or they see us go again. When they imply that we’re some sort of modern hippies, bums, nomads without a purpose. Talking with some people I sometimes get the feeling that we don’t suffer enough: and if you don’t suffer enough (and certainly whine about it even more) they won’t notice you or value what you do. Not that we’re living life waiting for anyone out there to validate our choices, but sometimes I wish more people would understand that there isn’t only one correct lifestyle. You can live life on your own terms as long as you’re not hurting anyone. You can build something as you go, make mistakes too, enjoy, but ultimately not be a robot on auto-pilot, just passing by. Just because we’re not in the same place everyday, do not have to answer to a boss or live restricted by traditional working hours, doesn’t mean we’re not productive members of society. The difference is that we don’t belong to one society only, but we keep on working on the go, we keep on having ideas we want to take further, and as someone once implied, no, we’re not doing this on our parents money (c’mon, I’m 31 years old!!)
Personally, I want to do something to be proud of, I wan’t to do things that fulfill me. I want to enlarge my horizons, and give back to the world. As Macklemore sings: “if I’d done it for the money I’d have been a fucking lawyer“. That’s one of the most certain things I have come to understand during our travels: you don’t need to be rich to enjoy long term travels and certainly not to live a fulfilling life. Furthermore, the less you spend and the more you focus on experiencing things instead of buying stuff, the more you’ll feel satisfied.
These 2 years have been the biggest learning opportunity I could have ever hoped for – I can assure you 4 years in college don’t even start comparing to this! I know we won’t be traveling (at least not at this rate) forever – we want to have a family, we have to develop projects that require geographical stability. Every phase in life has its things, and right now, I’m learning with different cultures around the world as much as I can: experiencing their ways, their food and their habits helps me gain perspective in life.
Travel has made me a better person: I can now look at the bigger picture of the world, not just my country or wherever I am at a given moment.
Our travel style has changed slightly in the last year. If it’s true that we were never the crazy tourist type, running around with a list of must-sees and ticking things out, it’s also true that right now we seem to be even less interested in seeing things (monuments, landmarks, etc) and much more into observing people’s lifestyles.
These are some of the things we did during this 2nd year of travels:
After 1 year traveling all over Latin America, we did a brief trip to the USA, namely New York City and Chicago. New York felt like we had been there before, thanks for the countless movies and TV shows we have watched set in the Big Apple. And in Chicago I got to meet one of my favorite musicians ever, Chris Carrabba from Dashboard Confessional and Further Seems Forever. That night, exchanging words with Chris about concerts, India and other random stuff, made me realize even more than when you get out of our comfort zone to pursue your dreams, good things always end up coming your way.
After one entire year by ourselves, Ashray and I went our separate ways for a little while. I went to Portugal and he went to New Delhi, to spend some time with family. I later met him in India and lived with his family in New Delhi for a few months. Spending a solid time in a given place is never the same as traveling around for a while. India still is, to date, the country that has impacted me the most – I can assure you no one leaves this place indifferent. Love it, hate it, do whatever you want – but the things one gets to see and experience in India stay with you forever.
As our asses can’t sit still for very long, we heard the international calling once again and headed on a trip to Hong Kong and Macau. It felt so good to explore Asia (so distinct from the Latin American vibes we were still immersed in) and fill our days with steamy baskets of dim sum and even started learning how to cook Chinese food.
Back in India once again, the big day arrived: we got married!
We managed to squeeze in a few days in South Goa with our dear friend Anita Catita who has back then initiating her love affair with India, but as our Hindu marriage didn’t exactly have legal validity, we headed to Vegas to make it all official! 50 days of road tripping followed, alongside days by the Pacific, adventures in several national parks and a lot ( I repeat, A LOT) of burgers!
We spent a couple of weeks back in Delhi recharging batteries and going mostly vegetarian to detox.
Summer was an European affair this time. We visited family in Portugal, spent some oh la la days in Paris, explored the Czech Republic and discovered that this is a great country to travel around, way beyond Prague. We also fell in love with Berlin and Amsterdam - we even think any of these cities would be a great place to live in!
After a brief stay in Delhi once again, we headed for our South East Asia adventure that shall last until the end of 2013. Right now, we’re in Thailand: one of the greatest destinations a budget traveler could ever hope for. Intense culture, great people, rich cuisine and incredible value for money.
Backpack ME is 2 years old too now.
Can you believe it looked like this when we got started?
This site is a major part of our travels because through it we get to share inspiration with the world – and this is one of the things that makes me happy on my daily life. During the past 2 years, we have received so many messages of people asking us how they can go about doing what we’re doing for a while too, or simply asking for suggestions and recommendations for their trips.
We have also come to know about 2 people (1 in Asia and 1 in Europe) who decided to quit their day jobs after reading Backpack ME, and do what they love: travel and volunteer. The fact that you can connect with people in different sides of the world and somehow make an impact on the way they see their life, is such a powerful thing!
Sometimes we come to know of people who have been reading Backpack ME for a while and we didn’t know about. So if you’re one of them, don’t be shy today and do SAY HI in the comments below! We want to know about you… if only you knew how cool it is to have you on the other side! :)
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