I took some much needed time during my stay in Naples to reflect, research, plan, network, and organize. My journey up until this point has only been planned about one destination ahead of the place I am currently staying, at the most two places. The only variance to this was the retreat to Provence which was determined well before I ever left Colorado. This caused some minor stress along the way, and not so great decisions, i.e. Ibiza, but for the most part I have allowed the adventure to unfold naturally and go to places that were either calling me or served a greater purpose, like traveling to Berlin to support a dear friend. Europe is a perfect place for that kind of travel, but destinations quickly approaching do not lend themselves to carefree travel.
I’m planning my time in Italy carefully based on places in the country that I really want to see. I am also making sure that I am balancing the travel aspect with the time for reflection and not running myself ragged trying to experience the immense number of magical places that make Italy a wonderful place to visit. I will always have the opportunity to return to this country and some of my future destinations require me to use this time for some tedious tasks, such as attempting to get my Visa for Mozambique at the Mozambique Embassy in Rome. Retrieving that Visa is much more important that touring the Vatican or the Coliseum. I have also set aside a few weeks for some housesitting opportunities that allow me to save money and spend time caring for someone’s beloved fur babies and looking after their homes. The upcoming expenses associated with traveling to East Africa require me to thoroughly evaluate my expenses and my priorities. My budget was to spend on average $100 a day throughout my trip. Recognizing that Europe in the summer was going to be more expensive and other locations would be less. I also have a few bucket list items that I planned on splurging on and that included Provence for my birthday and the other is a safari in Tanzania. The expenses of not only the safari but the airfare to get from Europe to Africa requires some careful budgeting.
In addition to the safari, I have the opportunity to spend about 12 days in Mozambique volunteering with a team from the U.S. that is working on the Slaves Wreck Project. This is an opportunity of a lifetime and thus the importance of obtaining my Visa. The only Embassies near me are Rome and Paris and I can’t afford to be without my Passport for a number of weeks sending it off to the U.S. for processing. But it may come down to that – we shall see.
As I put together my budget, I decided to track not only all my expenses and in what ways I was spending money, but calculate other things that only a data geek can appreciate. The miles I’ve traveled between locations, the miles I’ve walked each day, how many different places I’ve stayed and such. So here’s my figures for those that appreciate the numbers!
Days Traveling: 70
Countries Visited: 5 (Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy)
Cities Visited: 34
Total Miles Traveled: 8,814
Miles Walked: 355
Average Spend/Day: $181 ($88 for lodging)
Number of Flights: 5
Train Stations Arrived or Departed Through: 17
Cathedrals Visited: Too Many to Count Already
Weight of my bag: 20 kg – too damn heavy!
Magical Sunsets: 2 (all the beaches except Ibiza have faced the East)
Times I’ve Been Afraid: Zero
The experiences behind these numbers, what I have learned about myself and the knowledge I have gained about what other parts of the world are like, are exactly why I wanted to set off on this adventure in the first place. I have been very mindful about combining the desire to experience destinations and sights while at the same time making sure that I spend time in reflection to uncover some of the mysteries about myself. I struggled with that in Spain and felt the repercussions. I have seen a profound shift in myself in these 70 days. One that I am most proud of is that I have accepted and recognized that everything doesn’t have to turn out perfectly. Things will unfold as they unfold and reveal themselves to me in whatever shape, form or concept of time that is right for the moment.
A deeply personal trait that arose after my blog post a week ago where I was filled with self-doubt, was that I have been so focused on execution in my life, getting things done and sometimes those things were very difficult, but I have hidden behind this badge of honor or shield of “capable” that I hold very close, literally holding it over my heart. I thought this shield was protecting me from getting hurt, or failing in some way, but the shield became a wall through which I was very protective of letting love in. I am not discounting the positive traits of being capable and frankly those capabilities are getting me through this journey of constant navigation. But softening, and allowing the passion, love and openness to see others has revealed itself to me in a whole new perspective. I have noticed this openness coming into being more through my travels as I sit in the pews of cathedrals and visualize that this beautiful, holy place is a community’s church. People come to services at Sagrada Familia and the Cathedral of Barcelona, and Cappella di San Gennaro in Naples and I think about what those people’s lives are like. Tourists walk through these cathedrals daily and take pictures, but these are real people’s place of worship. I have also noticed a greater appreciation for history and thinking about what people were going through when the walked through the streets hundreds and thousands of years ago. I never gave history any thought while I was young and was so bored in high school history class. But I see now that appreciating history allows the human soul to connect with people, discoveries and outcomes and picture how they relate to human life today.
I am thankful for the opening, the receptiveness to grow and the opportunity to put aside my capable life to let a new part of myself be excavated and brought into the light. I greatly appreciate all the support of my family and wonderful friends while I am away on this adventure. I challenge each of you reading this to look at something you see everyday and try and see if differently today. Now, I’m off to see beautiful things I have never seen before – the Amalfi Coast.