Monday, February 25, 2013

So, how was it?

Since returning to the United States, a lot of people have asked me, "So, how was your trip?"  Sometimes this is followed by, "Tell me everything!"  I answer, "It was great!"  and then there's an awkward pause because I have no idea what else to say.  How do I summarize the past year?

These photos don't nearly account for all the cities we visited,
and yet they're still hard to caption all at once.
Most of the time, I list the countries we visited.  People ask which was my favorite, and I pick a different one every time.  I talk about some of the people we met, my favorite cities, or the delicious food.  I have so many stories, but it's hard to bring them up all the time.  There are also only so many times I can segue with: "Speaking of Indonesia..."

About a month after I got back to the US, I was talking with a couple of old friends I hadn't seen in more than a year.  One made a comment about how her year had been good, but it wasn't like she'd been in Cambodia or anything.  I tried to explain that I hadn't been climbing mountains every day or anything so exciting.  This prompted the other girl to ask, "So you wanted to be climbing more mountains, huh?"  That wasn't what I meant, either.  My friend's year wasn't any less interesting because she was in the United States, and I wasn't disappointed that I didn't go on an adventure-travel expedition every day I was overseas. 

The beginning of one of the exhausting hiking trips
I ended up in the back of the group behind an elderly woman.
To make it worse, the "giant flower" we were hiking to see was not very pretty.
According to our tour guide, it is technically a fungus, though wikipedia doesn't back me up.
I got to live in vibrant cities.  I ate incredible food.  I hung out with great people.  I climbed exactly two mountains, both of which reminded me how out of shape I am.  At the same time, though, I was spending a lot of time writing, emailing my mom, and generally doing things that I would have back in the US.  Eric and I set up routines in every city, frequenting coffee shops and cafés in the afternoons and drinking coffee or local beer in the evening. 

A goose wandering through a harborside cafe in Paros, Greece
It was an adventure, but I didn't spend every day riding elephants or developing fluency in Turkish.  There was a certain amount of normalcy to what we did, but we got to do it in fifteen different countries.  It was scary and new and exciting and different.  I got horribly homesick at times.  I learned to appreciate multiple types of curry.  I had the space to figure out some of my long-term goals.  I'd absolutely do it again.

It'll probably take a while for my friends and family to hear all my stories.  They'll come out little by little in conversations about other things.  Something will remind me of my favorite restaurant in Bangkok or taking the train in Romania.  Eventually, after many tales, the people close to me will have a more complete answer.  For now, though, it was amazing.

How do you talk about a big trip once you're back home?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, Laura. People asked me about Paris and although I was cold/wet (it rained a lot there) some of the time, I tried to talk about what I did, what I saw, French foods I ate, etc.