So it’s been pretty quiet around here. I haven’t blogged in nearly a year.
But it doesn’t mean I haven’t been up to much. If anything, too much has happened this past year.
I had high hopes I would be more consistent with blogging, but at the same time I’m not surprised by the lack of it.
I re-read my post from last October and thank myself for writing what I did about “I can’t.” It’s kind of what I needed to read because once again, I’m going through a few of those “big life changes.”
So what the heck has happened lately?
Well, I’m happy to report that I survived my solo trip to London, and returned in one piece. One pretty peaceful piece. I was working on a few posts on how that trip went, but of course they’re sitting in draft as usual.
I did prove to myself that I’m capable of travelling alone, and thinking on my toes when things don’t go as planned.
While I didn’t exactly have any super crazy experiences in London, I will say it was what I needed at the time. To not have a schedule or routine, to do whatever you want when you want, somehow feels like sacred time.
I spent that week living completely in the moment. Not expecting anything of myself or others. Not thinking or worrying about the future.
It was a simple and blissful time to be honest.
After London, I guess winter kinda came and went. The next trip was a quick jaunt to Cuba in mid-February. What can I say about Cuba?
Go sooner rather than later.
It’s a beautiful little island with a mesmerizing culture. Stay in casa particulars and you’ll be treated like family. Head to the countryside of Viñales for a more relaxing slice of the island (along with Cuban cigars and rum).
I also recommend spending a few days in Havana itself, despite what people might say about it. A lot of people choose to say in the popular resort area of Varadero and visit Havana on a day trip, but Havana has this energy unlike anywhere else. It’s an indescribable feeling, but you’ll feel it if you stay longer and soak it all in.
So after Cuba, next was planning a month long trip to Spain and Morocco for April.
The usual “once a year big trip.”
But this is where something kind of changed in me. Something shifted on how I feel about travel.
To get straight to the point, I had to return home half way through. Here’s why.
I got sick early into the trip.
Got worse and worse. Ended up being hospitalized in Marrakesh. Still wasn’t getting better after four days. Realized it was probably time to go home.
I’m not gonna lie, I have never been that sick before in my life.
I have never been in that much physical pain before in my life.
I coughed up my lungs all over Morocco from Fez to Chefchaouen and back. Then through the desert (while atop a camel and sleeping in the dessert) and across the Atlas Mountains en route to Marrakesh.
It was brutal. I suffered hard.
I pushed myself to keep going because I didn’t want to waste all that time, energy, and money that went into planning this trip.
To me, cancelling a trip–not travelling–felt like failing. It’s like a bird who can’t fly because it’s injured, or a musician who suddenly goes deaf. When you take away something so important, so essential to someone’s identity or way of life, it’s nothing short of devastating.
Now, you might think I’m being overdramatic. But this is how much travelling means to me.
Returning home crushed my spirit, but after almost five months now, I realize it was right to leave. My health is important. I can always travel another day.
So what was the diagnosis? Suspected pneumonia. But I’m not convinced it was just that.
It took me another month after returning home to recover. I’m not even sure if I’m 100% recovered even now. Antibiotics did nothing for me. I still have coughing spurts and feel phantom pain once in awhile on one side of my rib cage. My wrist will probably never be the same after a nurse in Marrakesh did a shoddy job at inserting an IV.
I thought getting mono last year shortly after returning from New Zealand was bad, but this experience was something else.
Needless to say, I never got to see southern Spain, or witness the beauty of Morocco with a clear head and good health. But you know what? I’ll be back one day.
It’s something I seem to say after every trip, and even though this one went far from planned, I want to see the Spain I originally had set out to see. I want to return to Morocco to explore Marrakesh’s medina, the places a local spoke about for its beaches and relaxing vibe, and for its delicious tangiers and mint tea.
While I’m still in the midst of dealing with insurance, and how every time they request more information I’m reminded of the horrors of my medical emergency, I’m doing okay. I think.
Except for the fact that I feel I’ve changed.
I’m not sure if I have the same enthusiasm for travel as I used to. I’m not sure if my travel spirit is there in one piece.
The truth is, travelling is great when things are going great. But travelling sucks when things go bad. Really bad.
I know my experience could’ve been worse, much worse. I’m lucky to have my health back, and grateful for the Canadian healthcare system. We take it for granted, let me tell you. And I’m lucky for all the people in my life who care, who were there when I was at my absolute sickest.
Even the strangers and other travellers I came across who found out I was sick, offered their sympathy and medicine to me. I’m beyond appreciative with how caring we are as a species, to people we don’t even know. I will forever strive to help a fellow traveller in need.
So what happens next?
I had some time to contemplate life and everything for a couple of weeks as I was on sick leave, housebound, and recovering. I’m happy to say I’ve dived head first into new endeavours.
One that involves painting and creating. Another that involves stepping into business and entrepreneurship.
Exciting times. At the same time, it’s all uncharted territory and scary too.
Now that it’s September, I have to admit this summer has been pretty laidback with plenty of sunshine. The near perfect kinda summer, right?
Mix in some hikes, bike rides, an awesome group trip to the Okanagan, plus a short trip to Toronto, and things seem to be back to normal ish.
It’s funny, because the whole medical ordeal also feels like a dream now. I don’t think I regret getting sick and cutting the Spain/Morocco trip short. Yes, it was a super shitty situation that I wouldn’t ever want to repeat, but I learned a lot.
It has brought me to where I am right now.
It’s like that saying, the universe works in mysterious ways. It’s mysterious and sometimes has a strange way of working things out for you, through good or bad situations. So there must be a reason for it all. At least, that’s what I want to believe.
On another note, I can feel that ache starting to bubble up again. And I think it’s the ache and longing of wanting to head to a new place.
Maybe all is not lost after all.
Maybe my travel spirit is ever so slowly, returning.
Has a life-changing event changed or shaped your travel spirit? Let me know!