The Journey Not The Arrival Matters. TS Elliot
Go see all the beauty in the world.
While traveling last year we made a choice not to buy many souvenirs. This was as much due to our baggage restrictions and a year of traveling light as our conscious choice not to “over buy”. We brought a few choice things to serve as reminders from our travels – but we mostly have memories and photographs as keepsakes from our Round the World adventure.
Now that we are back in the USA (and back in the world of 24 hour all you can buy gorgefest) I find myself longing for a few of the things we encountered along the way. So in the global market economy I indulged this past Christmas, and ordered myself (and the family of course) the sweet R. Dalton Guatemalan coffee from the Finca Filadelfia coffee farm we visited just outside Antigua.
I’ve got to say that this purchase has made me very happy. Grinding the beans each morning and smelling them takes me back to our fabulous day at Finca Filadelfia. We zip-lined through the coffee plantation, learned how coffee beans grow in the volcanic soils of Guatemala, and relaxed with beautiful views of Volcanos. I know Starbucks sells a Guatemalan blend – but it isn’t the same. Sometimes you just have to go to the source.
Have you ever ordered your favorite something from abroad after you got home?
Photo by Wayfaring Family
Taking time off to take a vacation or travel to a dream destination is really hard for us Americans. We have a lot of pressure on us. We are a hyper-scheduled society and we like it that way. We have work commitments, school commitments, sports and tournaments to attend, family to see and annual family obligations we feel compiled to meet. These are things we feel we must do, but also things we like. They are what ground us and generally help make daily life good. There is nothing wrong with these things.
Having just returned from our year “off” – I have learned a few things. Being one of those hyper-scheduled families that was loaded down with commitments before we left, I completely understand how a schedule can come to dominate one’s existence. People looked at us as if we were crazy to pull our kids from select soccer and leave our annual routine. Well, we did it. We took the year off. We had an amazing experience and we are back. We returned and things are pretty much back to the very full schedule we had before we left. We learned to let go a little and we enjoy an existence that is a little less crammed full, but it is still pretty busy. We are, after all, Americans. We can’t help it. Schedules and routine are a real and normal part of our life here.
In the US, we typically get less vacation time than other Countries. (U.S. Workers Trail Rest Of Developed Countries In Vacation Time: Report ://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/24/us-vacation-time-report_n_3333563.html) With an average of 16 days per year there is barely enough time to make it to every family get-together, hit the nearest beach or hiking trail for a week, and relax a few days on your couch – never mind visit another country. Taking an extended vacation from your job or career requires serious prioritizing. One that requires closely examining your finances, preparing for an extended absence and/or taking a long hard look at your career choice.
So I am writing today to help you understand that I really get it. It is hard to break away. It is really hard to let go of a schedule and those commitments. So, if you want to do it you have to just make it happen and say no to your regular commitments. You must prioritize your trip. It is really hard for us to do that in the USA. We are not encouraged to do it. It runs counter to our societal “norms”. It might mean saying no to your friend’s wedding or your annual Fourth of July party. It might mean pulling your kids from a sports team for a summer or homeschooling. It might mean leaving your job. These things are terrifying and require a huge leap of faith. There will not be a lot of people in your community that really understand what you are doing. There will be lots of people who support you but are not sure what you are doing or how you are doing it. Online you will find a huge group of travelers who have done it. They will understand and will help you through it.
Take the leap. You can do it. You will not regret it.
Start by making it a PRIORITY.
- You Need a Vacation. Really. (thehartford.com)
- Family Holidays & Travel Directory (free-toddlers-activity-and-discipline-guide.com)
- Study Shows Rise in Number of Staycations (virtual-strategy.com)
- Why save those vacation days? (cnn.com)
- We Deserve Time. It’s Money After All! (raisingjoneses.wordpress.com)
Lexington, Kentucky, USA
One of the great things about traveling around the world is appreciating home when you return. After spending a year on the road, there are so many things you realize you took for granted while away. So I thought I’d write a post today of some of the things I love about Lexington, KY:
- Unbelievable food! We have so many food choices. Great local restaurants and more restaurant chains than you can count. Not to mention that we have an abundance of local markets and access to every major grocery chain from organic to luxury to discount to wholesale. Any food and any way that you like your food you can get it here. We have some great ethnic restaurants, and I challenge any town to rival our doughnuts.
- Easy Access WIFI and cell-phone coverage. We have come to depend on it we take it for granted in the US but anyone who has traveled knows that at times finding reliable wifi can be tough. Here at home it is a non-issue. WIFI/4G is a blessing and I love having it!
- Amazing art: Lexington is full of fabulous art. We traveled the world and visited some world-class museums, but it was the city’s public art that was always the most striking and memorable. Lexington is home to some amazing public art and murals. Lexington is currently part of a cool mural project (PRHBTN) We currently have a Bourbon Barrel project on display that highlights dozens of local artists and our Horse Mania project can still be seen around town. Art is appreciated in Lexington and generally valued by the community. Out trip made me more appreciative of our art scene.
- Gorgeous Fall Foliage and our tree-lined roads. Driving in Kentucky in the Fall is stunning. It was literally raining red and yellow leaves the other day. We missed Autumn last year as we opted for an “endless summer” year of following the sun. Experiencing the seasonal change this year I realized how much I missed this time of year. It is truly beautiful.
- Basketball. I missed it. We are in Kentucky. It is basketball season. I tried to appreciate Rugby. It was fun but it doesn’t hold a candle to college basketball – especially in the Bluegrass. Go CATS!
- And I love our “new” slogan Kentucky kicks Ass. Visit Kentucky for Kentucky to learn more cool stuff about our home.
From our Travels last year:
At one point, while rafting and hiking the Grand Canyon last week, I looked up to see my children and husband about a mile away, dangling their feet off a cliff as I sat looking at the sheer drop into the canyon below. It occurred to me that I would need to explain to my mother how and why I let that happen. So here is my explanation, to Mom and others, about safety and how I actually came to terms with the dangers that surround us and how we are adapting.
First, Let me say our guides did a great job explaining to us how to climb, when to climb and where it was safe to climb. Lee wanted to climb everything he saw. But Shawn, our guide, explained that he wanted to climb too. Climbing is fun but you need to think about where you are, how (and whether) you can get help, and how getting hurt would affect the group. That talk changed Lee’s constant and random attempts at scaling our campside cliffs or “exploring” which made me feel better! The guides told us which areas were safe to climb and when we came across some very secure boulders we climbed and scrambled until our bodies were sore.
When it came to hikes we always followed the guides. Lee was always up front because he was fast. That didn’t mean there were no dangers. Twice on very small trails (shelfs actually, with a long drop to the side) we came face to face with a Big Horn sheep blocking our path. Luckily, in both case they stepped aside or turned around, but it was intimidating. Each time the guides showed us where to walk and how to climb. They usually did so without words, but by doing it. Sometimes they waited at tough crossings to show us exactly where to step, or to assist.
On the raft, life jackets were worn all the time. The kids could swim on the shore but not in the rapids or if the current was strong. One time the kids were swimming and the captain told them the current was strong in one spot but they could swim in another area without life jackets. Interestingly Lee wore a life jacket anyway – even though the other kids did not. This is exactly what a Mom could hope for. He began to learn his limits and to respect the potential dangers in the area.
Finally, on the hike I first described, I got dehydrated and stayed at the half way point. I watched the rest go on past and hike to these amazing Anasazi ruins in a cliff. I could see the little shelf and the huge cliff they were dangling from. I sat below helpless. There were no barriers, no nets, no caution signs. If you fall, you die. The guides tell the kids how to step carefully but there were 7 kids up there. The kids loved it. They felt free. Yes there is danger involved but they were taught how to be safe.
The deal is… this is the real world. I have protected them. I have taught them. They are taught to be safe. They are taught not to do stupid things to be unsafe.
I expect to encounter a lot of danger on this trip. I don’t expect to be immune to it or not have bad things happen. But I hope to learn from it and learn our limits. I hope we are safe and make good choices. I am not looking to put us in harm’s way. So relax, Mom! Right now we are safe in a Vegas hotel room. (There is a whole new set of dangers in Vegas, but that is another post!)
Upon arriving in Guatemala, our first international stop, we first stopped by Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home to drop off a bag of musical instruments and art supplies donated by aLexington based charity Hearts for Arts. This wonderful children’s home located in Guatemala City, became a place we visited several times during our month long stay in Guatemala.
If you are looking for a worthwhile cause or just want to see what a great charity is doing please see their newsletter below or visit their Facebook, twitter or website. For our family Hope for Tomorrow became one way to connect real the people with the place we were living and a way to continue to keep in touch.
Hope For Tomorrow
Hope For Tomorrow Children’s Home is a ministry based in Guatemala City that is providing a nurturing home for orphaned and abandoned Guatemalan children.
Guatemala · hope4tomorrow.net
If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal.