As we round off February, the “month of love”, and the end of my time in Nicaragua, I wanted to share a super cheesy (but open-hearted) post about finding new types of love on the road. I’m not talking about backpacker romances, although you can have many if it’s what your heart desires. I’m talking about a deeper love, a connection to things and people around you.
I remember having a conversation with an American travel buddy that I met in Nepal about how the hardest thing about being recently single was that I actually love being in love. It’s the best feeling. It lights a fire in your heart and a healthy focus on someone other than yourself. He quite simply advised me to start loving the world more; the sunsets, the people, the experiences. Simple.
I tried to push English skepticism aside and “open my heart” to the world and so far I am feeling nothing short of head of heels, bat shit crazy in love with EVERYTHING. Sure a sunset isn’t going to spoon you to sleep, but when you stop and appreciate how much we’re all connected, you realise you’re never truly alone. And the world is rich with things that will give you that warm fuzzy feeling that makes you happy to be alive.
So here’s a run down of the top things that have made me weak at the knees.
Baby turtles making their maiden voyage into the Pacific Coast
Watching the baby turtles make their brave walk to the ocean for the first time in Popoyo, Nicaragua, was a moment I will never forget. I had arrived a few hours earlier to an empty hostel, much to my disappointment. But my isolation became my inspiration (I finally started on my website). I honestly believe that the truly beautiful and magic stuff often happens when you’re on your own.
The Magic of the Mekong
This was an emotional morning experiencing sunrise on the Mekong Delta. I awoke at 5am for a boat trip to see the Cai Rang floating market, before the hoards of tourists hit it. There was only me and the local boat driver and I remember just sitting back, sipping on a coconut and marvelling in the unusual way of life; the Mekong is a mecca for trade, giving life and opportunity to residents across South East Asia. Cruising back in the early sun I felt so happy and at peace with where I was I actually shed a little tear.
Standing tall and proud at Everest
This is one photo I will return to time and time again when thinking about my time in Nepal. The first time I looked at it, it genuinely made me cry. It was taken at Gorakshep, about 4km from Everest Base Camp. While it is as a worker and not a wild horse, standing there so proudly and resolutely at 5146m against the heavenly Himalayas it looks so out of context yet perfectly at home at the same time. In many ways I really resonated with this; I couldn’t believe I was there taking in one of the natural wonders of the world, above the trees, the clouds, the electricity. Yet by the same token I felt like it was exactly where I was supposed to be.
A warm welcome to the family in Vietnam
There’s been too many beautiful people to mention them all and choosing one to feature was tough. But I really felt that that the Lytadanh family in Ha Giang Province, northern Vietnam truly opened their home and their hearts to us. They didn’t speak a word of English but each member of the family would embrace you and encourage you to join them for a shot of homemade corn liquer. All four generations of the family joined the party, cooking us a feast and having a great laugh at our expense as we tried to entertain them with karaoke. Liftetime memories.
The romance of the city
The city, the beating heart of the nation and a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. I always enjoy walking around at twilight, when the street lights start to twinkle in the setting sun. I love the way that the cities in Asia in particular really come to life at night, seeming to gain more energy as the sun takes a rest. It’s hard to pick my favourite city moment, so here’s three special experiences; watching the sun set into the mountains enclosing Kathmandu, creating shades and textures I’ve never seen; Strolling through Hoi An, the Little Venice of Vietnam; wandering the vibrant streets of Granada my first stop in Latin America.
Friends for life
There’s been so many special friendships formed on the road; the Polish guy who helped me pack my kit for Everest; the two fun loving Americans I travelled with in Laos; the Canadian girl I kept bumping into in Hanoi and so dragged on a motorbike tour in the mountains with me; the German friend who checked in every day and encouraged me when I was feeling low, and the Austrian who saved me from an army of French Canadians….But the group I met in Portugal have a special place in my heart. They proved how easy it is to make friends when you’re travelling and paved the way for many more. Some of my travel buddies still send me love every day, and I love them and the whole travel community right back.
Paradise just out of the city
This was the first day in a long time that I felt truly happy. I escaped the city to take the short train ride from London to Seaford for the iconic 13.8 mile Severn Sisters walk to Eastbourne. Equipped with my new Everest hiking boots, a swimsuit and some short shorts, I walked skipped and sang my way along the dramatic white cliffs. And when I stopped to practice handstands, a girl came over and asked me to teach her which was an unexpected moment of shared happiness. I added this one because as a globe trotter you can often forget to admire the beauty on your doorstep.
So yep I still believe that love is the greatest feeling in the world and the good news is that love really is everywhere. So get out and do more of the things you love. And if you don’t know or haven’t discovered your passions just DO more. Try things, use things, borrow things, meet people, be brave, be bold, test the waters and throw your heart to the wind. You might discover you’re destined to be a musician or a mountaineer or you may reaffirm your happy place is underneath the dining table with the cloth pulled down pretending you’re camping. If it’s not hurting others and it makes you feel good, just go for it.
Big Love, Katherine x