Oh, the Places You’ll Go

I get to go on vacation! A real vacation. With cocktails and beaches and relaxation. This hasn’t happened in…a very long time…

The last two “vacations” I’ve taken from work have been month-long, unpaid, leaves of absence. Sounds glorious right? A month away from work to explore a foreign country? Well, sort of. Both trips required me to wear shoes at all times and shake out my sheets before bed to check for scorpions if that gives you any insight.

The trip in Costa Rica was one of the best experiences of my life. I never thought I would be bad ass enough to travel into the jungle of Costa Rica alone and stay at a no electricity camp where we had to burn our garbage daily and protect sea turtle nests from poachers.

The airport…seriously.

Collecting sea turtle eggs to be hatched safely in the nursery.

Turns out, I am bad ass enough. Enough to survive the worst panic attack of all time. Enough to plan, cook and eat group meals based on a food order that may or may not come on a plane once a week. Enough to patrol the beach throughout the middle of the night in a lightening storm to rescue sea turtle eggs. And enough to walk a mile back to camp while keeping my friend calm after she was bitten by a poisonous snake that nearly killed her. Balanced by the incredible adventure and beauty, that trip to Costa Rica was life changing.

The jungle in the Osa Peninsula

Part of the beach that we patrolled each night.

So naturally, I needed more. How far can I take this extreme travel? To Southeast Africa, twice. That’s how far.

The first two week trip to Malawi was such a whirl-wind of travel and sight-seeing and near death experiences that I knew I couldn’t leave it at that. After returning back to my normal life, I quickly realized that there was unfinished business in Africa. I needed to go back – to shake up my life, to spend more time with Russ, and to get more use out of the dozen vaccines I got for the first trip anyway.

Monkey Bay

A major form of water transportation in Malawi

Safari!

In Malawi, you can see incredibly beautiful things and they live right next door to things that most Americans would rather not acknowledge the existence of. Poverty and illness are unavoidable but there’s something incredible there that steals your soul. Despite the outdoor pit toilet and bucket showers and building a fire each time you want to eat something, I get so nostalgic for the quiet, for the lack of narcissistic pressures, for the orange Fanta in a glass bottle…

Mmmmm…Fanta…

In preparation for this upcoming trip, I realized that I haven’t actually prepared for a real vacation in a long time. You mean I can bring my hair dryer and a cute dress and there will be uses for both of them? I’m sure that, instead of relaxing on a white sand beach, I will find plenty of time to get grubby and hike a bamboo forest or two, but I’m pretty excited for the uncharted territory of a relaxation vacation. Stay tuned for more tropical pictures and stories of cocktails and bikinis. I’ll try not to make you too jealous…

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