In 2012, I signed up with Hope Singles Corps to help with earthquake and hurricane relief in Haiti. It was my first ever trip outside the United States. I was 29 years old.
I remember the feeling of looking out the plane window as we were landing, realizing that I was, for the first time, setting down in another country. I remember the absolute chaos of the Port au Prince airport (it’s been significantly improved since then! I didn’t even recognize it the next time I went there). It was truly a fantastic experience; one that I will never forget.
One that changed me for life, in many ways. I got the travel bug.
The next year, to celebrate my 30th birthday, I took a solo trip to South Africa. It was my first solo international trip, and also my first time outside North America. I’ve got several stories from that trip I need to write up. I absolutely loved that trip, and I would be happy to go back. That same year also marked my second trip to Haiti with Hope Worldwide.
The next year was a big travel year for me.
In January, my job sent me to India to train some engineers there. I decided to make a long stopover in London to visit a friend I met in Haiti the year before. So in one trip I added Europe and Asia to my list of continents I’ve visited! My India experience was very different, as work paid for me to stay in an uber-swank hotel rather than sleeping on a blanket on a concrete floor as I did in Haiti or someone’s couch as I did in South Africa. Two weeks is not nearly enough time to experience India! I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I would love to return someday.
Late in the year, I took a trip to New Zealand. I went over Thanksgiving, because the lesson I learned the year before is that when you cross the equator the seasons switch. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I fell deeply in love with the country and the people both.
The next year, I decided to move to New Zealand.
I lived in New Zealand twice, for a total of 20 months. A long time in some respects, far too short a time in others. I cannot in a single paragraph or a single blog post convey a fraction of my experience, but since I have a whole other blog to help me do that, I will summarize by saying it was the time in my life I look back on with the most fondness.
It was my love for the country which drew me to New Zealand, and it was my love for a person which drew me away. Perhaps were it not for her, I would still be living in New Zealand today. Or perhaps not…who can say? But I made my choice, and have yet to regret it. We got married in 2018.
We took our honeymoon to Greece. We saw Athens and Santorini, as many tourists do, but the majority of our time was spent on Crete. We loved Crete so much we canceled the rest of our itinerary and just stayed there for one whole week of our two-week trip. It was fantastic.
The next year we wound up staying closer to home and flew to Canada. Canada is the second largest country in the word, so two weeks is barely time to sip. We greatly enjoyed our time up North, and once again I will say that I would be quite happy to return.
This year, we wound up returning to New Zealand in February for a whirlwind trip to attend a friend’s wedding. Just one week, but it was so lovely to be back! We also had big plans for later in the year…but so did SARS-CoV-2. who knows if we’ll even leave the state this Summer? But whether we fly around the world or drive to the next town over and practice careful social distancing while there, I know that life has many more adventures in store for both of us!
It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.JRR Tolkien, Bilbo, The Fellowship of the Ring, “Three is Company”