*** 2021 Update ***
This blog post did not age well. Traveling? What’s that?
2015 was a fabulous year for me. Because I gave myself the permission to travel. I traveled places I wanted to go to, and plunged right in to absurd, uncomfortable and anxious situations. It got me out of my comfort zone. I reveled, in the true beauty of the places I traveled, the people I met, the different cultures I experienced. I now know what people mean when they say travel really changes you. I catalog some of my favorite moments and lessons I learnt from my adventures:
Learn to let go – you might just be surprised
This one is the most recent, and happened right on the New Years day. I went white water rafting at Rio Pacquare in Costa Rica (one of the top 5 white water rapids in the world).
As I wrestled my anxiety with class IV rapids, we reached a deep canyon, narrow, equal parts breathtaking and intimidating. As everyone did a double flip into the still waters, I tensed up. I was shit scared of entering into deep waters and stayed back on the raft. My rafting guide though said I could catch on to the raft line and float instead, if that made me feel better. I wanted so badly to say NO, but instead said to myself “F*** it, I am doing this. I dont know if I will ever return here again in my life. This is now or never”. I allowed myself to jump into the water and float. And it was the single most exhilarating moment I have ever had on any New Years day ever in my 30 years of lifetime. Life is truly about the chances you take. And the moments where you “Let Go”. Next time an opportunity comes by, I will be sure to think back to this moment to gain some inspiration. Btw, right after we crossed the canyon I saw two local boys dive from a bridge hanging above (about 150 feet high). Splendid. I regret nothing 🙂
The world is full of nice people, you are yet to met
I did the Tour Du Mont Blanc (TMB) last year – a 110 mile circuit that I trekked around the Mont Blanc massif, crossing by foot three national borders of France, Italy and Switzerland. Yes, I know, you are allowed to be jealous.
I was a little wary of the “cold” perceived French personality. Specially since I knew nothing of the local languages, so I barely spoke to the local people. I also got a first hand experience of this behavior (a French woman in an ice cream parlor refused to sell me ice cream during the trip). But you know for every bad person, there are 10 more who will make you forget all about the needless hatred in the world. I met some of the nicest people on this hike. 10 days is too long not to become friends with atleast one person who was a stranger before. I also met people who were from professions I would never meet if I just stayed back home – a police detective! Dinners were communal. All of us helping ourselves with soups from one big pot, tearing pieces of bread from the basket and dipping them in fondue. Sharing our lunches, while napping in the afternoon on top of calm, majestic and pristine mountain passes. Screen time was replaced by conversations, companionship and true bonhomie. Also the French know how to enjoy their food and take a nap. Really.
Physical challenges are all about mental strength
I can vouch for this, with absolute certainty. Because I backpacked through High Sierras for 3 days covering 40 miles including summiting the Half Dome, with my pack weighing 26 lbs.
It is unbelievable! I did this with zero conditioning! I clocked zero exercise and training for this. This was true even for the TMB trip. Of course I don’t advise that anyone get up and just go backpack or trek a 100 miles without training (although thats exactly what I did). The point being, you my amigo can do anything you set your mind to. Literally every time my body was in pain, I said to myself “OK, you can do this. Just take your time.” Affirmations are magical! I never biked more than 6 miles in my life at one go. Also I NEVER bike. That means the 6 miles I did was on one single day in 2015 on a flat trail and I never touched my bike again. But I went biking 35 miles on a mountain bike, through rolling hills of Costa Rica last week. I mean, I really did it! So many times I was ready to give up. And it got even more disheartening when you I saw other bikers just swoop by. I reminded myself I am not here to compete. I am here to finish. I was literally the turtle that made to the finish line.
You always discover something about yourself
I am great at hiking downhills (trust me, it is harder than it sounds). I can bike for hours on flat trails. I enjoy long distance hikes, it makes me happy. It seems like am an overall long distance person. Maybe I should try the ultras 🙂 After a bad experience paragliding over Mont Blanc (I almost threw up in the air), I was anxious before my trip to Costa Rica – I had booked a bunch of adrenaline pumping activities. I was surprised to find I enjoyed rappeling, free falls and ziplining through some of the fastest, highest and longest ziplines in the world. I wanted more! Who would have thought…
I am grateful for these lessons and hopeful that this year I allow myself to more adventures. I am considering summiting Mt. Shasta this spring break. This one, needs training I am told or you will kill yourself. We shall see. *Wink*