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Road Trip: The Plan

So it’s been a little while since I posted a vlog about my road trip. You can watch my Road Trip: The Beginning pt 2, along with a conversation with my dear friend Robb.

Since then I’ve started driving around here, there, and everywhere, going to different places and seeing the sites! I absolutely love road trips. They’re the best way to see a country. This particular trip is from the northern tip of New Zealand to the southern tip. It’s so exciting!!

Though I’m on the road trip now, you can take a look at how I’ve mapped out my path.

Enjoy!

Healing

Let me know if you’ve experienced this: You go out with an acquaintance/friend/someone, you spend some time around them and you leave telling yourself: “Wow, they have so much wrong them, it explodes onto me when I’m around them,” “They need to work on themselves, because they always bring the mood down,” or maybe even “Spending time with them is always draining”?

Whether it comes from a judgmental place, or becoming more aware of those you allow around you, you can be honest here, we’ve all felt that at one time or another.

Much to my surprise, and delight, I recently experienced the opposite.

I recently started on an epic journey! Touring New Zealand relying on wits, the generosity of people and the grace of God. So far it’s taken me from one suburb of Auckland to another. My journey of 1,000 miles began with a 15 min drive to a new house down the road!

On this journey, I’ve been praying for some things:
1. For peace and protection while I travel around. These are generally nice things to pray for.
2. For people to travel with. I’ve traveled to about 20 countries, let me tell you, the best memories come when you have people by your side.
3. To be open to life changing and big conversations. I don’t want to shy away from those who want to have conversations about faith, death, sexuality, family, or whatever is on their mind. Strangers can make great conversationists and you never know when a conversation can change you.

Recently on this journey, I met another traveler willing to take a chance on getting in a car with a stranger. Together, we hiked, toured some cities, and drank wine on an island. It was a good way to start my road trip.

Before the traveler joined me, I mentioned to them. “Naturally, I’m an introvert. So, there may be times when I just need to be alone or walk away from everything and just recharge in my room. Take the time to do whatever you’d like. Don’t feel bad that I want to be away from you, it’s not you, I just appreciate my solitude.

They admitted they felt the same and would also let me know when they needed to be reading a book in a corner or walk to the nearest cafe to sit alone. It was a great conversation, we made our boundaries and desires known, and we were on our way

Side note #1: learn to set boundaries in your life. Set them with friends, family, and strangers. Hold to them. It’s worth it. Also, respect others’ boundaries.

After spending quite a bit of time with this individual, I noticed something. I didn’t feel the need to escape to the safety of my solitude. My time alone often includes my exploring the distant corners and thoughts of my mind. Yet, around this person, I was ever present.

Toward the end of the time I spent with them, I had a moment where I felt healthy. I was not drained by this time with spent around a stranger. I wasn’t seeking asylum under the covers in the arms of my bed. I was happy to simply exist where I was. It felt healthy.

Funny that I felt “healthy” because previous to this moment, I didn’t feel sick.

Side note #2: I think sometimes we get so used to being sick/in pain/tired we forget what healthiness looks like in specific situations of our life. It’s common for me not to realize I’m experiencing normal human things. (I say ‘human’ as if i’m not one.) Nevertheless, at the end of my days, you can often hear me ask myself, “Did I eat today?” Hunger is a human feeling that can often slip my mind.
Pain, on the other hand, that is hard to go unnoticed. Despite how commonly I’ve experienced it in my life, each ounce of it is an uncomfortable gut wrench that is both unfamiliar and familiar at the same time, each time. Yet despite this discomfort, we make pain comfortable and sit in it. Why do we endure? well, that’s a post for a different day

As I spent time around this stranger I noticed I felt better. Not better about myself because I judged their life choices. Not better because they finally left me alone. I felt like a healthier person after interacting with them. Each of us have felt what I described earlier, the drain of spending time with certain persons. But do many of us have a person that can help reenergize us? Maybe I’ve felt it before, maybe I just haven’t recognized it.

This time I did.

It’s as if the time I spent traveling was actually me checking into rehab, completing the 12 step program, and walking out the other side a burden removed from my shoulders. I was walking with a burden added without me recognizing.
*cue the music* i’m walking on sunshine ohhhh, ohhhh, and it makes me feel good, yeah, alright*

I sincerely hope I can be a person like that to others, while on this trip, and in my daily life.

I will say, one of the most curious things about suddenly feeling healthy, is not wanting to leave it. I find that the problem with getting healthy, is that when you’re finally 100%, you start to like it. You’re reminded that this is the person you like to be. You’re reminded that you’ve gone through some stuff and though you survived it, going through it takes it’s toll. Over time, most things in life do.

Once we’re healthy, we’re left with knowing we must go back through the grind, ever taking its toll on us. And whether it’s in the back of our minds, or at the forefront of thought, within ourselves we know we’ll slowly shrink away from 100%. It may be steps each day that lowers us to 99, then 98, then 97. Or we may go through a free fall down to 60.

So then why do leave the safety of 100? Why escape the safety of being separate from that which takes its toll.

Why don’t we stay in the place we can consistently be connected to what charges us and not brave the world of hurt people. After all, it is the people who are hurt who hurt people. It’s a cycle of pain that we progress ourselves.

Sometimes intentionally, other times on accident.

One of the wonderful things about facts, is that when a fact is true, often the opposite is true. If hurt people, hurt people, then loved people, love people.

It took me a while to see it this way. But this individual who helped me was well loved on their own and therefore capable of spreading their love

To slightly break myself out of my introvert mold and be more balanced, I told myself “if you see something you like, you have to say something.” Its simple, but effective.

I’ll complement a fresh haircut of a stranger. I’ll thank the bus driver for driving modestly (which doesn’t happen often, most bus drivers drive like it’s their last day on the job and they need to get to the next stop as fast as possible.). I’ll let a person know I like their art. It’s a small moment that can change a person’s day for the better.

I caught myself walking down the street of the Central Business District in Auckland. Within a group of people there was one person I admired. As usual, I couldn’t remember his name, but I stepped in front of him anyways and said, “Hey bud, we met months ago. You’re a photographer, I saw your work, it’s great stuff. Keep up the good work.” Immediately, I turned to walk away, I did my part and said I like something to the person who created it and was going about my business.

As I departed, he turned around and to me, “Thanks bro. You made my day, man!”

If a hurt person can ruin an entire day with only a few choice words, then a loved person can make someone’s day with a few choice words.

For me, this was just a simple walk to the grocery store. The first one since leaving my traveling friend. I was walking healthy down the streets of Auckland. As a loved person, I was able to love people. Continuing a cycle of love that can only be progressed through our actions.

That is why we leave our place of 100. Because there are people who need little encouragements, who need burdens removed from their shoulders, even if just for a moment. We leave our place of 100, to help others get to their 100. When we’re loved, then we have the love to give.

I’m glad I got healthy at the beginning of my epic road trip.

New Zealand: Auckland Coast to Coast Trail

Here’s a fun fact: it rains a lot in New Zealand. More than I expected, that’s for sure. I’ve only been present for the winter and spring, so it makes sense. But the sunny days have been a bit sparse.

Recently, on one of the sunny days, I was able to do this trail I found on the All Trails app. Going from one side of the country to the other is no small feat! But it is a small country, so that helped a bit too. 🙂

Take a look at my most recent adventure!

 

My Favorite Travel Blunders

Traveling is super popular on social media. Right now, you can go on Pinterest, Instagram, and any other social media app and see hundreds of pictures from the perfect and ideal trips.

There are women who spent 20 minutes getting the right pose, in the right city, at the right time are a dime a dozen! Couples who take astonishing engagement photos in the with the perfect sunset. Families who take pictures of their babies while living on the road in Europe.

The pictures are all amazing and astonishing! Every single one of them! And of course, there is usually a great story about something the travelers experienced, learned, or overcame that is detailed below the picture.

It’s inspiring! I totally do the same thing.

You know what you don’t hear enough?
Travel blunder stories.

Like in real life, traveling has these silly moments that create memories that stick in the mind just as well as a perfect moment. They’re not always caught on camera. They aren’t ones that you can prepare for. And they certainly aren’t ones that you expect.

I have plenty of these blunder stories from all over the world. Some of them are funny, some of them cost me money, while others taught me a lesson.

Here is My Favorite Travel Blunders pt. 1 (because with how awkward I am, there will certainly be more)

 

Chicago, Illinois, USA 
I’ll start with a month long road trip I did in the States. Over the course of this road trip, I drove my Red MINI Cooper through 19 states and a piece of Canada. I likely covered about 2,000 miles (3200kms) during this time. I decided I was going to spend as little money as possible on housing. I would camp or sleep in parking lots.

Through most of the trip, this worked perfectly! Except in Chicago. It was one of my longer driving days and I couldn’t find any good places to end the day. Without finding any spots outside the city, I ended up driving into Chicago looking for a place to sleep.

Eventually, I found my way to a hospital parking lot. I practiced a line I would say if I was asked why I was asleep here, “My relative is having surgery and I’m just waiting until it’s done to hear the news!” That should work, right?

At 2am, a security guard came to my window and started banging to wake me up. “You can’t stay here!” He repeated it at least 3 times, before I was awake enough to understand what he was telling me. I rolled down my window just a crack and said coyly, “Can I help you?”

His response was the same as before, “You can’t stay here.”

I was ready to say my line. I’d been rehearsing for this. But before I could get out the words to say, he walked away. As soon as he finished saying his line, he turned around and got into his car. I was a little shocked by this and shouted to him, “Where should I go?”

No response.

So, heeding his words, I turned on my car, drove back to the other side of the hospital parking lot and went to sleep. Apparently, this side of the parking lot was fine, because he never came to tell me to move. However, every now and then when I sleep in my car, I have a dream that I am yet again being woken by the security guard in Chicago.

 

Dominican Republic
In the DR, I was on a service journey with Denver Community Church. As we helped erect a house in the area, we were given permission to enter this older woman’s house to use her bathroom.

I, of course, like to stay very hydrated. So, I was commonly going in to use her bathroom. Using my broken Spanish, I was able to chat with the elderly woman a bit every time I went inside.

During the second day of work, I causally walked into the house, through her room, and into the bathroom as usual. However, this time when I entered her room, I saw here there, topless next to her bed.

Whoops.

Immediately, I decided I didn’t have to use the bathroom in that moment and I walked away.

On our last day, I wanted to take a picture of myself with some contrasting colors. I was asking the locals to borrow a chair. Guess who had a plastic chair for me? Yes, sweet little old lady.

I placed the chair down and set up the camera where I wanted it. Without relooking at the chair I sat down.

Without me realizing it, the little old woman snuck behind me and sat on the chair. Therefore, I ended up sitting on her fragile little lap. I’m not sure where we got lost in translation, but I don’t think either of us were expecting the other one to be in the chair.

Not only did I see her half nude this week, but I also sat on her lap. This mission trip ended up way more kinky than I expected.

 

Paris, France 
This one I will never forget. I was with my wonderful sister, Angelita, and my darling niece, Milana.

After spending a day in Paris, we were taking a bus to the beach. It’s about a three and one half hour drive. Keeping babies entertained is a full time job. Sometimes it’s difficult on a trip because they wont just fall asleep whenever it’s convenient.

On this particular drive, my sister and I were taking turns playing with the little one who was wide awake and ready to play! Roughly an hour into the drive, my sister noticed something was starting to smell bad.

uh oh

Milana had pooped. But what was even worse was that the poop had escaped her diaper!

Yup

In an effort to entertain her, I was bouncing my darling niece on my lap. Little did I know but with each bounce, the poo seeped out. It dripped onto me. It got on her back. It splashed on my sister. It got on the chair in front of us.

It was like a war scene, poo EVERYWHERE. We were blissfully unaware of all the splattered poo now scattered throughout our area of the bus.

It was a stinky situation, but my sister couldn’t help but to laugh at the silly moment.

 

Traveling has its blunders.

Be prepared to make good stories out of them.

Fulfilling the Dream

I left Honolulu, Hawaii both relaxed and anxious at the same time. Honestly, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Honolulu. It was the beautiful island life all tourist sites advertise.

Despite Hawaii’s beauty, looming inside my brain was the knowledge that Tuesday, May 15th at 2:25pm, I would be boarding a plan to move to New Zealand. I was finally doing it. I was going to New Zealand! I was moving out of the country!

I was about to fulfill quite possibly the biggest dream…of my childhood

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