India… AT LAST

It’s this crazy thing…INDIA…I’ve been dying to go there for so long, yet the planets just wouldn’t align to make it happen. I’ve previously even had flights booked to go there, yet the wind set my sail in a different direction, and I ended up going back packing in South America instead. I’m not complaining. South America was AMAZING. But India, let me visit you please!

At last, it’s all working out as it is meant to. The world is a strange place, and I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. My boyfriend and I have been saving hard, and having a boring year of the “real world”, but it’s worth it, because tomorrow, we are finally going to pay for our flights, and in December, we are FINALLY going to spend three magical weeks gallivanting through the cultural pot of India. INDDIAAAAAA!!! (I hope I’m not jinxing it by writing this little over excited piece).

 

But…it’s meant to be this way. Both our jobs granted us leave. Fantastic. It’ll be great to travel this route with a male. I’m not a nervous traveler by any means, but I do think it’s good to take precautions when required, and I think this will be a good instance where, having a strong man by my side will be a wise choice. And finally, I get to touch down in India.

I am beyond excited. I now also finally have something radical to blog about. Sorry for being so quiet lately!

If you have any tips or tricks about India, please let me know. We will be doing Northern India, and then spending New Years in GOA. Oh my goodness pinch me now please! 

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3 months probation!

3 months probation! It’s not what you think. it’s the good kind of probation.

I’ve now been at my job for almost 3 months. What defines 3 months to you? When I look back, 3 months to me equals 3 horribly difficult, soul numbing months of banana farming in Australia. 3 months was just under half of my trip through South America. 3 months can drag by, or it can fly by, depending on what you’re doing. But this time, the 3 months have flown by,  3 months of probation at my new job, and at the end of this month we will (hopefully) sign my permanent contract.

So, what has been happening in the past 3 months (other than me neglecting my blog)?

Well, to summarise…

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travel map

Click here to see my lovely Travel Map at Travellerspoint. It’s still a work in progress. So many places I’ve been that I still need to add (mainly Europe). Still so many more places to see. Travelling makes me happiest.

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Time to unpack my backpack…

The boring stuff: To summarise the end of my time in Australia… Hayley and I worked in Dingo, Australia for three months, and it was an interesting experiences to say the least: from baby kangaroos to light aircrafts filling up at the service station, a town with  a  population of 56 people, one dingy pub with no ambiance in the slightest, lots of hours spent cooking burgers for truck drivers in the roadhouse, mopping kitchen floors, but most importantly at this stage (at the end of a year of travels), we were saving money. I know money isn’t everything in the world, and I try my best to live with only the necessities,but in order to come home and happily settle my feet back down on the sandy shores of Cape Town before starting to look for a job here, money is a necessity!

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i made it to sydney

Damn but jet lag sucks. I’ve never really experienced it properly, even though I’ve been all over the world. But this time I really struggled. Just after I had adapted to being home in South Africa after flying from South America, I decide to confuse my body even more and hop across to Australia (via Dubai). So far this year I’ve literally hopped across the whole Southern Hemisphere!! Needless to say, it took me a couple of days to adjust to the time differences.
Luckily, while I was backpacking in South America, I made many amazing friends that happen to reside in Australia. One of them being my friend Mike (he feels more like a brother than a friend though to be honest). He and his family welcomed me into their home in Sysney’s suburbia, where I spent a couple of days letting my body clock adjust. I did also venture outu into the city a few times, seeing and catching up with old school friends, family, etc…and well, obviously I went to the Sydney Opera House too.
A few highlights from my week in Sydney:
  • Mike and I went to a rally in Hyde Park. The rally was against the new lockout laws that the government is trying to introduce in Sydney. Basically, there was a fight in the famed Kings Cross party area in the city, and a guy was sadly killed. Now the media has basically forced the hand of the government, to pass a new law that night clubs stop selling alcohol at 1:30am, and close all night clubs at 3:00pm. To me this seems acceptable because at home in South Africa, it is relatively similar, but I understand that it’s not what they are used to in this huge metropolitan city.

    Mike and I at the Rally in Hyde Park

    Mike and I at the Rally in Hyde Park

  • My cousin, Anton, and his wife and their gorgeous little 19 month old twins also live in Sydney, so I spent a night with them and got to meet my second cousins. I also got to catch up with Anton after not seeing him in about 8 years. So happy. Family is always family.

    My two little cousins Enzo and Nina

    My two little cousins Enzo and Nina

  • The famous Bondi Beach is really quite beautiful, but also rather over saturated with people. On this particular Saturday afternoon, I met up with an old friend from High School, Natalie. It’s been about 6 year since we last saw each other. Well, whenever the last time I was in London was, that is when I last saw her. She lives here now. It was really interesting to chat to her about different visa options if I ever decide to settle down in Australia permanently, and obviously just to catch up in general.

    Catching up with Natalie, an old friend from High School

    Catching up with Natalie, an old friend from High School

  • The Sydney Opera House is of course a must see tourist attraction, and with my interest in Architecture, it was incredible to be standing next to this huge piece of art, carefully crafted against the skyline of Sydney and the harbour. There is a bar just next to the Opera House, called Opera Bar, and it’s a must see for anybody visiting the area. I went alone and had a beer, to the delights of an American family snickering next to me about how they feel so sorry for that girl sitting all by herself. My patience for American’s is still very very low, because every time I come across American’s, they prove to be the identical mould of the stereotype that they are perceived to be (bar a few special cases, where I have met and made amazing friends with).
  • Back in the days when I grew up in Johannesburg (between my age of 0-11 years), we were good family friends with the Zock Family. One of their sons now lives in Sydney, so of course our mothers co-ordinated for us to meet up. Him and I went out for beers and dinner, and I spoke so much that instead of waking up with a hangover the next day, I woke up with an aching jaw from all the chatting I’d been doing. Poor guy, having to listen to me nonstop chatting for hours. It really was a great night though and I’m happy that I saw him.

And then off I went again, as I do, always moving, never staying still in one place for too long. The next flight out took me to Cairns to meet up with my friend Hayley (a girl I met in South America), and the two of us will be going out and searching for jobs on farms, fruit picking, for the next three months. More to come on that in the next post……

almost in australia

Is it weird that I am so incredibly frustrated at being home? Home should be a happy relaxing place to rejuvenate before my next journey. Instead it’s making me more and more anxious and restless.

My previous post touched on how, upon returning home after 5 months in South America, it felt like I had changed so much, but everybody else had stayed the same. But now, after being home for almost 3 weeks, I’ve actually come to realize that everyone else has changed to. Of course life doesn’t stop, and I understand that, but I’m no longer a permanent feature in my friends lives and therefore I’m not a priority. Lots of friends have actually blown me off since I’ve been home, choosing rather to hang with the people that they know will be there in the long term. People move on. Life moves on. Everyone moves in their directions.

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#selfie with my Boston Terrier Willow

Don’t get me wrong though, I have had some absolutely magical moments while being at home, I’ve been to a beautiful music festival out in the wine lands of Cape Town (Origin Festival), I’ve been to one of the most prime up and coming electronic music festivals in Cape Town (Cape Town Electronic Music Festival), been to food markets, eaten incredible food, swam in the ocean and spent time with my family and been for countless walks on the beach with my beloved doggies. All of that said, as much as I still love all of my friends at home, it’s become very clear to me since I’ve been home, who my true friends are, friends that are my friends no matter whether I am at home or not and which people have moved on from our friendships probably without them even realising it themselves.

It’s been a weird trip being home, and I kind’ve wish that I had’ve gone straight from Ecuador to Australia, but such is life, and here I am in South Africa. Three more sleeps, a few goodbyes, and I’m off on the next part of my adventure. I am beyond excited.

Have any of you other long term travelers had any similar issues with friendships and reverse culture shock and settling back in at home? I’d love to know if I am being over sensitive or if this is a general trend.

Happy travels xx

I’m home…it doesn’t feel like home

Being home is a weird sensation. After 5 months of freedom and exploring South America, I’m back in South Africa for a quick stopover before heading to Australia on the next part of my journey.

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Perspective of Cape Town Penninsula (aka HOME)

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been going through a weird sensation of adjustment. Adjusting to home? Really? Yes! By far the hardest adjustment of them all. Backpacking is this magical world of freedom, happiness, open-ness (is there such a word?) and exploration. Everybody is friends, and if you don’t get along with somebody, that’s ok too, because you don’t need to hang out with them, and chances are, you will never see them again in your life. There is no drama. No girly bitchiness. No judging. Just happiness and being a free spirit (and a bit too much consuming of alcohol).

I read an article about “Reverse Culture Shock” and it’s starting to make me understand what I’m going through.

Definition of ‘Reverse Culture Shock’

The shock suffered by some people when they return home after an extended period of time overseas. This can result in unexpected difficulty in readjusting to the culture and values of the home country, now that the previously familiar has become unfamiliar.

 I’m in my world at home now (although only temporarily), with bitchiness, and friendship cliques, and people with 8-5 jobs, the same parties, the same stories, the same boy drama, and right away I’m thrown back into being the person I was before I left. I’m falling into the trap of routine! What was the whole point of all the explorations if I just fall back into being the old me?  I’ve been through this most magical life changing experience, I’ve seen some of the most incredible, breathtaking wonders of the world and I’ve grown personally in so many ways, yet here I am back home being the old me. I don’t like the old me. I think it has to do with not being able to relate to anybody about my new life. Nobody really wants to hear about anything I’ve done because they don’t understand. And every story I try tell is received by blank eyes. So here I am, adjusting to my old life, when all I want to do is be out in the world, growing more, expanding my horizons, and not being here, feeling trapped.

So basically, to sum things up, of course I am ecstatic about seeing my family, my dogs, and my friends. They all mean the world to me and I love them to bits, but, I have grown out of this life here. I’ve grown out of Cape Town. I never thought that would happen because it is such a glorious city.

I’m happy that my journey is not over. In two weeks time, I will be heading to Australia to go work and travel there, and maybe I will strengthen my new found values and opinions while I am there so that next time when I come home for a visit, I wont be weak enough to fall back into the “old me” mould. I will be able to see my friends, but as a stronger newer version of myself which I am currently on the way to discovering.

 Australia is going to be my new home for awhile. Fresh start. Another new country to explore. So many more  like-minded people to meet along the way.

most memorable and magical moments

A summary of the most memorable moments of my adventure through South America (in no particular order of importance, simply memories that stand out)

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homeward bound

I feel as though I’ve been falling a bit behind in my blogging lately. I guess that means I’m having too much fun! Its almost time to go home, so here is a summary of my final days in South America. All the love in the world for South America, but I am so happy to be going HOME!!!!

  1. Fun in Mancora (Peru) – Few words are needed to describe this point. Going back to Mancora felt like I was going back home. Back with our little family of travellers. Hayley and I were happy 🙂

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    Happy in Mancora with Hayley

  2.  Traveling back to Quito (Ecuador) via every form of transport possible – A collectivo (minivan) from the bus stop to the town where nearest to the border, squished between some sizely humans and the lady who booked the bus tickets for us (lets call her “Maria”. Then, we hopped into Maria’s friends car, along with Maria and her hubby, and the 5 of us drove to the border like a happy little family. At the border, Maria’s friend left, Maria and hubby stood with our backpacks while we went through passport control (they didn’t go through passport control????), then Maria, hubby, Hayley and I got a taxi to the town on the other side of the border where Maria made sure we were at the right bus terminal to then get a shitty bus for a whole long many hours from that mystery town to Quito bus terminal. At Quito bus terminal, we then got a taxi to our hostel, and pheeewwww, we finally made it. Hello cool weather in Quito. I never thought I’d be so happy to be cold.
  3. A chilled night in Quito (Ecuador), a little bit of wandering around (mainly to find a bank that worked with my bank cards, but also to the ECUATOR!!). – Here’s a tip for travels in South America in general: Always have a VISA bank card. I had one, but it got eaten by an ATM in Cusco, but nonetheless, its a necessity, otherwise you ill continuously be fighting with various ATM’s to try get your hard earned money out of the machine, and into the world of spending cash!

    Middle of the World with Hayley and our monkeys

    Middle of the World with Hayley and our monkeys

  4. Time to fly back to Buenos Aires (Argentina) – I didn’t plan on going back to Argentina this soon. I though I still had another few weeks to travel up to Colombia and see the beautiful Caribean cost but….flights in South America are soooooo expensive. While I was looking at different options to fly back to Buenos Aires (Argentina), I found that the cheapest option was to fly from Quito (Ecuador). Therefore, I never made it up to Colombia (but I will be back someday I promise!!), instead I hopped on a 6 hour flight back to the land of good wine and beautiful people.
  5. Iguasu Falls (Argentina and Brazil) – Met up with a Belgian friend, Salvatore and we hit the road on an 18hour bus ride to the border of Argentina and Brazil to go see the magical Iguazu falls. We saw them in Argentina then crossed the border and saw them from the Brazilian side too. Both sides are a must! Soooo much water!
  6. Home Sweet Home (South Africa) – The long flight home with the most crazy turbulence of all time. But now I’m home and happy and adjusting… The adjustment is weird but seeing everybody is great.

Hitch hiking through Ecuador with a Colombian drug dealer called Juan Pablo

My next stop on my journey was Quito, in Ecuador. A brief stopover in the city, then I split up from my happy family. Elle was heading off to Panama, and Mike and the two Dutch girls, Carolien and Inge, we’re heading to Colombia. I joined up with some others that I’d met along the way, and we heading to the little surf town of Mompiche in Ecuador. I’m not even going to bother describing in detail my bad luck on this trip, because I feel like it’s becoming a theme, but of course, the bus broke down, we had to stay in a dodgy town called Esmeralda’s for a night of extreme sweating and no ventilation, but we made it to Mompiche, and it was great to be back in the sunshine with sandy toes.

Edd (French), Marissa (American) and little Sammy (Aussie) are all super enthusiastic surfers. So we spent the first day going on adventures to find amazing surf spots on beaches covered in the softest black sand I’ve ever seen in my life. Mompiche isn’t filled with travelers and holiday makers in the same way as all the other places I’ve been. It’s a quiet little town where nobody bothers you or tries to sell you things. You’re left at your own device to buy fresh fruit, eat fresh fish, and relax. Tranquilo.
Months back, when Sam and I were still traveling together, we made a memorable stay at the Loki hostel in Salta in Argentina. For the week we were there, we had formed a group of friends who we giggles with for days on end and drank infamous amounts of Loki “Blood Bombs”. My favorite person of the bunch we were hanging out with, was a British girl called Hayley because we just got along childishly well. Her and I always promised we would meet up again at some point on our journeys, and finally the time had come. She came and found me in Mompiche. Instantly, we hit it off as of before, laughing until our ribs ached, laughing at nothing, laughing at everything. Together we are a ridiculous pair. We shouldn’t travel together. People look at us funny because we are in hysterics non stop. We make impulsive decisions. We are carefree. We are two silly blonde girls far away from home.
When she arrived, her and I went for lunch. During lunch we started toying with the idea of heading back down to Mancora in Peru for a couple of days of fun and silliness together before I was to fly back to Buenos Aires in Argentina and before she headed on to Colonbia. By the end of that lunch, we’d found a lift with a man named Juan Pablo, his dog Jax, and his driver (whose name is unknown). They were going to take us half way down Ecuador. We packed up our bags and set off with these strangers who conveniently just happened to be going in our direction.
We probably shouldn’t have been so impulsive about hitchhiking with this guy. During the trip which seemed to take way longer than planned, we stopped to take photos of a giant paper mâché iguana, we took a detour through a beach town called Canoa (just so we could have a look) and Juan Pablo even kindly (creepily) offered to give Hayley a foot massage.
K: Juan Pablo, what do you do for a living
JP: importing and exporting
K: Oh cool, of whaaaaat?
JP: consumer goods
K: not drugs though right
*awkward silence*
JP: drugs are bad
We made it alive to Manta (it took 4 hours), then hopped on a bus to Guayacil (3 more hours), slept in the Guayacil bus station (for 7 hours), then caught a morning bus to Manocora (9 more hours including border control). And then we were home in Mancora…