Friday, April 13, 2007

April 14th--Two Months on the Road

After a cold, snowy and windy day in Queenstown yesterday, Tyler and I awoke to a clear, sunny fall morning. After being cold and somewhat stymied by the weather, we were anxious to go exploring and did a great hike up to Queenstown Hill, 900 meters up with fantastic panoramic views at the top.

Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu

The Remarkables looking, well, remarkable

As we hiked (and the Kiwis aren't afraid of building trails that just go straight up the hill instead of switchbacking), I realized that today was the 14th, our two-month travelling anniversary and thought about what we'd learned and experienced so far.

Time while travelling moves strangely. We leave New Zealand in just five days, and it feels like we've been here a long time, but it also doesn't seem like we've away for two months already. But something that was just a month or so ago, like Macchu Picchu, can already feel a million miles away.

I also think I've gotten better at handling ambiguity. I tend to be a planner. I think about the day ahead, the week ahead, the next month. While this can be a good thing for work and generally feeling organized, it's also been freeing to have fewer knowns than unknowns in day-to-day life. Besides certain dates (flights, really) we can go by what we feel that day, what the weather allows, what public holidays allow, what language skills allow....

I've also gotten to remember what it feels like to not be stressed out and to just appreciate being. Before we left, my office had a yoga retreat day. At first, I was a bit leery (why go relax when I could get things crossed off my to-do list?), but it was fantastic. One exercise was going for a silent walk while you stayed present by just noticing the immediate: I am walking, I am looking at a tree branch, I am hearing the wind blow, I am whatever-ing.... In the weeks and months that followed we grew increasingly busy with finishing up our job responsibilities and moving and getting ready for the trip, and that was a useful exercise to fall back on. But I haven't had to do that while travelling. One day on Abel Tasman, I thought about how amazingly blue the sky was. Now, the sky is probably just as amazing on many spring and summer days at home in Seattle, but it's too easy to forget the pleasures in small things with day-to-day life realities.

The rub, of course, is figuring out how to maintain these feelings when we are back to real life--bills, deadlines, housework, obligations....

On a more flippant note, we have also learned that it's no fun to dry off everyday with towels about the size of a legal-sized sheet of paper. We brought our pack towels just in case we needed them on the road. And we didn't need them in South America. But since we've hit more expensive countries (Easter Island, Tahiti, New Zealand) we've needed them everyday. Yesterday, we upgraded at a local outdoor store's sale rack for towels that are now about the size of two hand towels put together. Luxury!

This has definitely been the second best decision I've made in life so far. And I'm glad we have more ahead of us than behind.

Thanks to everyone for all their support! The Intrepid Travellers

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