December 31, 2015

Day 804: Another year over

With Christmas over, I decided to head to the centre of Brisbane to spend New Year’s with another friend, Greg. I met him and many others while volunteering in Rio during the world cup.  He was one of the volunteers I connected with and again after we parted ways, we stayed in touch. When I left I had no idea that we would meet up again and I certainly didn’t know at the time that he lived in Brisbane.

For me, like many, New Year’s is a time of reflection, how were the last twelve months? Did you achieve everything that you wanted? Did it go pear shaped? Or did it just fly by with a blink of an eye? No matter how the year was, we are often left with many learnings, a mixed bag of emotion and have some clarity despite the questions. I learnt a great deal about myself while living in Paraguay, I pushed myself to try new challenges, to learn and speak Spanish even though I was pretty bad at and to continue investing in great friendships. It was extremely hard leaving Paraguay, very emotional because I struggle with goodbyes. It was just as hard saying see ya to Seema and then to all the children I had volunteered with in Cape Town. It never gets easy, I manage to leave a part of heart behind each time but take a part of the local spirit with me. Whilst it pains my soul, I wouldn’t have done anything differently, of course I would love to stay longer at each of the cities I volunteered or worked in but I understand that no amount of time would ever be enough. We all have the same amount of time and it is on us how we decide to spend it.

I decided to explore Africa and as a result I was able to go to Tanzania, where my dad was born and raised.  We have never before as a family and it was on my bucket list for a while. I wanted to try and explore the cities by dad explored whilst growing up, sure they would be different but it would still be his home town. I wanted to above all, appreciate and get a sense of how life was for him and his family in Tanzania. Unfortunately, I didn’t visit his birth city, Mwanza but I was able to explore Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Serengeti. I loved it. Could I live there? I don’t know but I will definitely come back.  The humbleness and sheer kindness of locals warmed my heart every day. Sure parts of the city are touristic and some locals just want to sell you things but in other parts, locals were just happy waving and staring at you because you are a foreigner. The idea that foreigners come to their land to explore and experience life with them is a heart-warming feeling and more than enough to make their day.  As a western, with so many opportunities and materialistic goods, Africa is truly the continent to see how poor we truly are and how to really live life with next to nothing and be happy.

Many of the locals in this country and other third world developing countries want to travel, study aboard or just move. They want to get out and have these beautiful dreams. And I understand that, there is this sense of the grass being greener on the other side. I know that this isn’t true and we need to appreciate the here and now but then I did leave London and I am travelling and exploring the world.  Many of the backpackers I met would love to study or work in London and again I appreciate this but I was ready to leave. One man’s trash is another man’s tressure. Having had the opportunities and means to do everything I wanted and more, I choose to travel and experience life in less fortunate cities. But it isn’t always for these locals to do the same.  They don’t have the same opportunities or means and so are left dreaming, hoping and praying that something will change.

I had the opportunity, for instance, to travel and spend New Year’s with friends in Rio last year.  Whilst I was there for the world cup, returning there with my friends, the experience was different. It was the same places but a different sense, energy and feelings. I was able to create new memories with these friends but at the same time my mind drifted to all the wonderful memories I had created over a year ago. It was hard to appreciate the here and now and whilst I was present, I struggled. I was fortunate enough to travel back to Rio, a city I love so dearly because of the energy and the culture. It was truly one of the countries in South America where I felt at home, where I felt like I belonged. I struggled with the language, again, but I was able to communicate on a daily basis with locals and be accepted and loved. The soul moves you, captures you and the energy is contagious and kindness continues from city to city.

I have many good friends whom I had a great moment with, with whom I shared a wonderful conversation with but I didn’t get their facebook, email or number. So, of course, it is more than likely that I will never see than again. But that one interaction was more than enough, I will forever have that and nothing or no one can take that away. Our sheer presence can brighten up someone’s day, a small act of kindness can lift someone’s spirit and one exchange can change how we view something. The power of such precious moments is phenomenal and so beautiful but sometimes people don’t appreciate it or see. As they say, the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. It is when we feel such beautiful moments that are lives change. And it is these life changing exchanges and moments that keep me going.
New Year’s for me is also the time when I miss my loved ones the most – all my family and friends, new and old and all the wonderful backpackers. I struggle a lot not being able to share my moments and joy with them and I hope sometimes more than anything that I could just see them and be with them for just the day.  All these attachments is what makes it hard but without these attachments my life would be very different and strange. Exposing and opening our hearts, making ourselves vulnerable, loving and giving with all our souls despite knowing that we may get hurt is truly loving and living. We don’t love someone based on how much they love us, no, we love unconditionally, and we give unconditionally, expecting nothing in return.  It is these exchanges that are priceless, that make everything worthwhile even when things don’t work out and we get our heart broken. Being brave and courageous enough to loving despite all the hurt and cruelty in the world, is the way forward, in my opinion.  No it’s not easy and sure we want to scream and shout sometimes but in my eyes it is so worth it. It is all I know and this is my mantra, to continue loving, caring and giving no matter what because chances are you will be surrounded by people who respect and appreciate it all as I am now.

So as this year draws to an end and I reflect back not just on this year but on the past two years of my travels, I’m grateful, grateful for all the great experiences and all the not so great ones. I appreciate all the lessons I learnt and all the wonderful people I met. I’m blessed and I believe lucky to have such experiences. We don’t get everything in life, we sometimes want the whole package but we are not always able to achieve it. I don’t have everything in life, I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t have children but I have enough, more than enough and I’m content. I’m at peace with where I’m at and with who I am. I could be elsewhere, I could have more, I could be more but I don’t think like this anymore, I am more than enough right now, in this moment. So as this year draws to a close, I give thanks a million times over to all the gods and great people and have nothing but love to give.