Saturday, August 1, 2009

Some Final Words

It has been exactly a month now since returning to the US. Life is busy and days are filled with hours of LSAT studies, visiting old friends, and spending time with the family. Am I happy to be home? Absolutely. But do I constantly find myself daydreaming and planning my next adventure? Of course. On that note, I'd just like to share with all of you a favorite quote of mine, as I feel like it describes this past year, as well as my insatiable curiosity for travel and getting to know this beautiful world. Thanks for joining me in what has been an amazing journey ....

Some people do not have to search, for they find their niche early in life and rest there seemingly contented and resigned. At times, I envy them, but usually I do not understand them…and seldom do they understand me. I am one of those searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we completely content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to take walks along the beach; we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power and unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests, mountains, deserts, hidden rivers, and lovely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as our laughter. To share our sadness with the ones we love is perhaps as great a joy as we know, unless it is to share our laughter. We searchers are ambitious only for life itself and for anything beautiful it can provide. Most of all, we want to love and be loved, to live in a relationship that will not impede our wanderings and prevent our search. We do not want to prove ourselves to others or compete for love. This passage is for wanderers, dreamers, and lovers who dare to ask of life everything which is good and beautiful.

Due to technical reasons, photos from travels to Turkey, Scotland, Paris, Germany, Vienna, Budapest, and Valencia cannot be uploaded. However, all of these travel adventures can be seen on my facebook page. Enjoy!

JUSTO ... Going Home!

Taken from travel journal 30/06/09:

"Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music-the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself." -Henry Miller

I'm going home!! And surprisingly, I couldn't be more excited ... to see my family, to see Nick, to begin LSAT studies and to meet Brittani's new baby, Jack. To see old friends and start a new phase and adventure. What will the next 6 months bring? A new language? A trip to Central America? A new job? This year has already been filled with so much ... many travel adventures, professional learning and growing experiences, new friends and cultures ...

Just hopped on the Madrid to London flight, but just barely. Got to the airport with almost 3 hours to spare after a lovely taxi ride - with the taxi driver telling me how great my Spanish is, how great Madrid and all of Spain (to the South of Madrid) is, how fabulous and unique the clubs and nightlife is (lo mejor del mundo me dice).

However, waited 30 minutes in the Iberia line when it was the wrong line, stood in a crazy long cue, as the Brits say, with British Airways for one hour, then had to unpack my suitcase and decrease my luggage by 4 kilos (for us Americans that's over 8 pounds), leaving many of my things at a lonely table in Barajas. Paid the 27 euros fee for sobreequipaje (overweight luggage) after listening to a Spanish nun behind me comment to her friends that Americans always have too many things (guilty as charged!), rushed to gate S after a crazy Spanish pija skipped everyone in security and my sweat-drenched self ran to catch the 5 minute tram to passport control, where the idiot immigration officer stamped over 5 other of my stamps.

I then went to the wrong S gate (it was 22, I ran to 45), grabbed a carro (trolley) and sprinted, even though I was wearing my cute rosy red flats, over to S22, only to be the second person to board (hey, silver isn't bad for someone who was in LAST place). I slid my red northface backpack that has been with me at every moment of my adventures throughout Europe into the cabin right above seat 17A. A viejo (old man) passing by chuckles to himself and says at the same moment the bag slides into the overheard compartment, "justo."

Justo, indeed!

Grow Up, Kate. Anda.

Taken from travel journal 24/06/09:

How I'd love to wander and be a professional traveler. Especially after our trip to Istanbul ... not sure what it is, just not feeling very motivated to enter the workforce back home. Part of this, I'm sure, is how awful the economy is right now. The fact that I have applied for over 50 jobs since February and only heard back from 2 isn't the most uplifting news. And I suppose I should be glad and thankful that I heard back from these 2, but they're not jobs that I want to be doing. It's like I'm constantly just waiting around for the perfect opportunity to just fall in my lap relating to human rights or immigration, but it's just not happening.

Am now here in Scotland, staying at the Peebles household in Bridge of Allan, close to Stirling. It's a grey, but beautiful Saturday morning. Euan's family has been so wonderfully accomadating. I even have my own bedroom (with bathroom!) while I'm here. His sister, Kirsten, and Euan have been constantly feeding me, stuffing my face full of cranberry, garlic and dill, matured whisky cheeses and lovely ginger + rasberry jams, making me into a proper Scottish fattie. Yesterday we went to the Royal Highland Show where we saw lots of sheep, (even a sheep shearing contest!) horses and Highland coos (cows). We even saw pipers playing Amazing Grace - it made me think of Grandma and how much I've been thinking of her and missing her on this trip.

Still cannot believe I'll be home in just 4 days now - in a lot of ways this trip to Scotland has been good for me, to see Euan working, living at home, being a "grown up" - all the things that I must think about and do.

But here I go again ... plans for my "gap year" as the Brits say, in between now and law school ...
Work and live in Milwaukee for a few months, take my LSAT on September 26th, apply for law school, Guatemala in October ... perhaps Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia in January? And then there is next spring with David studying abroad in Ireland and our family trip to Greece. But what about my desire to learn French? Martinique sounds nice, as well as the French Riviera. Oh yeah, did I mention Vietnam and Thailand. Hi, I'm Kate. I have a problem.

12 Steps

Taken from travel journal, 23/06/09:

Sometimes I think I should enroll myself into a 12 steps program for those of us with travel addictions. Anyone like to join with me? How is it possible that even after 6 months of straight travel, I'm not tired in the least and could continue with tanta esfuerza for 6 more months?

Hi, I'm Kate. I have been traveling the world for a year, but am already looking ahead to plan my next trips ... the Middle East, Rwanda, Central America, Southern Mexico, Southeast Asia ... I am a true wanderer and explorer. I just love getting to know this great world we live in. I'm a travel addict, I have a problem.

Moving On Already? Not Quite.

Taken from travel journal, 23/06/09:

On another, YES! another, EasyJet flight, flying home to Madrid today. A week from now I'll be leaving this chapter of teaching and adventures for the US of A. And tomorrow I'll be on my next EasyJet flight to Scotland, the last final hurray before starting LSAT studies and the law school application process. Still cannot believe that this year in Europe has finally come to an end. To think of all the trips I've made, all the visitors I've had, all of the great friends and the amazing people I've met and worked with ... literally with a *snap* of the fingers, I'm heading back to America on British Airways once again.

So many things have happened, so many mistakes made, but so much more learned and gained. I feel stronger than what I was last September 21st. Through my professional experiences both with nannying and teaching English, I have learned to always keep in mind that this culture is not my culture - if they do things a certain way (or not do things) it's because it's their way. Because I'm in their country, I need to be respectful and open to this way.

Te acuerdas, Katy ... no estás en América.

My Favorite?

Taken from travel journal, 23/06/09:

While in Berlin two weekends ago, Denise, Elvia, and I were trying to figure out which trip within these past ten months has been the "best." I honestly could not come up with an answer, nor even pick the top three or rank the top ten. To choose would be like saying that all the other trips weren't great. Just think - thirteen countries (Spain, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Morocco, Austria, Hungary, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Scotland) in ten months - each trip with a different vibe, a different feeling and circumstance, different tastes and flavors, and sounds and music and language ...

How could one possibly choose? They're all worth writing about.

Book Recommendations

Books Read While Traveling Around Europe:
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (started and finished this book during my trip to Istanbul ... it is, by far, one of my all-time favorite books ... a must read!)
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (how did I not read this in high school? Another favorite!)
  • Eat. Pray. Love. by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Shack by William P. Young
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Penal Colony by Franz Kafka
  • Boy in the Stripped Pajamas by John Boyne
  • Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (again, another favorite ... classic American literature)
  • Pillars of Hercules by Paul Theroux (this incited my interest in traveling to Turkey)
  • A Year in the Life by Frances Mayes (my favorite travel author)
  • The Soloist by Steve Lopez (because Strauss and Beethoven are fabulous)
  • El laberinto de soledad by Octavio Paz
  • Harvest of Empire: History of Latinos in America by Juan Gonzalez
  • Men that God Made Mad by Derek Lundy (great historical insight into Northern Ireland)