Final Blog of 2014

The year 2014 has been a special year, in total I visited 10 countries on two different continents, and I spent almost half the year outside the Netherlands. I flew more 48 hours, and travelled thousands and thousands of kilometres, by car, plane, boat, raft, bus, train, jeep, foot, bike and so on. From the little clown fishes in the Indian ocean, to the big reef sharks in the Caribbean sea. From the Kenyan school kids, to the old Guatemalan lady selling guacamole. From the dry savannah in the Serengeti National Park, to the dense jungle in Guatemala. I can try and summarize my whole adventure in one blog, but that is an impossible task. Even though, my adventure started on the 25th of January 2014, and now, the last day of the year, I would like to highlight some events that all started when I finally boarded that plane that took me to Costa Rica.

 

Two moments from my volunteer work stand out to me when I look back. The first is that one of the days I helped in the soup kitchen this old lady walked in, she had bruises all over her face. The people around her seemed to ignore it. After serving the soup I walked up to one of the project leaders, Barry. I asked him if he knew what was going on with the lady, and if there was a way we could help. That moment, he taught me a wise lesson: ‘Even as a volunteer you can’t always help everybody, sometimes you have to accept something, and aid however you can, for someday everything you did for another will add up to something greater than yourself’. So I did, and I still hope that if I aid someone, that someday it will become something greater than myself.

The other moment came a couple days later, when Barry told me that when you want to achieve something, you can. If I wanted to get this dream job, or do something just for myself, I should. For me, that was traveling, he told me if I wanted to see the world, that one day, I would find a way to do just that.

 

I also had highs and lows. When I reached the top of a 6000 meter volcano, after walking all throughout the night to see the sunrise, that was a definite peak. I could see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean sea. A moment to never forget. The ‘lowest’ moment was when I descended into the ocean while scuba diving, when you are twelve metres below the surface, everything seems surreal. Beams of sunlight hitting the coral reefs, and the thousands of fish forever moving against the current. And then the moment came when I saw a sea turtle, I got as close as two metres from him. That moment was really special.

But of course, there were other moments, where I had emotional highs and lows. When making a kid smile, or buying a taco from the local lady, or having a spontaneous conversation with the people around you, that’s when I felt happy. Lesser moments were when I had to leave a place, and say goodbye, when my card got skimmed, and when my cat back home passed away. Traveling is a journey of experiences, visually and emotionally, and I learned so much last year.

 

I don’t think I can stop talking about the array of animals and nature I have seen throughout my time. A small sum up: sloths, monkeys, a super scary looking yellow snake, raccoons, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, the Big Five, a leopard, wildebeasts, gazelles, impalas, too many cockroaches to count, other tantalizing insects, an enormous amount of birds and more. I have seen white sand beaches, jungle, savannah, mountain tops, volcanos, lakes that look like seas, coral reefs and… the list can go on endlessly. Next to all the nature, I experienced numerous cultures. The laid back culture in Central America, where everything will come in its time, and there is no rush at all. At the same time, the latino’s have a passion for salsa, partying and surfing. I also experienced the hakuna matata culture in Kenya and Tanzania, where people don’t worry, and jokes and smiles are exchanged all day. Within those cultures I have seen several indigenous cultures, the bribri people in Costa Rica, the Kuna people from the San Blas islands in Panama, the Masaai in Tanzania and the Samburu tribe in Kenya.

 

Most importantly are the people I met while traveling. Within a couple hours you become friends with the people around you, exchange stories and connect to different people from all over the world. With people I barely knew I went on ‘an expedition’ to the other side of an island close to the coast of Mexico. I planned activities for the following day with people I met during dinner time. I travelled alone, with one other persons, and with a group of more than ten people. With a tour guide, or a small group of people put together because we signed up for the same activity. Saying goodbye to all this was strange, but looking back I had an amazing year, to never forget and I want to say thank you to everyone that played a part in that year. 

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