While cycling through remote villages in Asia (currently Thailand and Myanmar), I see people living in very primitive situations. Homes are made out of bamboo and palm leaves. Sometimes a bit of wood. No insulation, no running water, no electricity.
In these little villages, the residential, commercial and agricultural are all somehow merged into one. The home is the business and is also the place where you might find some pigs or cows or chickens or all of the above. The children, parents, and grandparents all live together.
I am on my way back to America. It is an extremely long journey. One that would have seemed impossible three and a half years ago. It will take nearly 72 hours.
I can remember many trips to Florida from Arizona that could take up to 6 hours. I remember thinking to myself—that is absolutely unbearable— how will we do it?
But traveling is like any endurance activity that I do—whether it is swimming, backpacking in high elevations, cycling long distance.
Like endurance sports, there are ups and downs; highs and lows. There are hours that go by seemingly instantaneously while others seem to feel like I am crawling to get there.
There are times that I can feel motivated to work and write and feel happy just looking out the window. And then there are moments that I am overwhelmed by the inhuman scale of the trip as well as the airport itself.
I am currently bicycling through Southern Myanmar with my partner Rene. We started in Bangkok, Thailand, rode to northern Thailand, and then cut south. We are headed to Indonesia.
I chose to cycle through Southern Myanmar because I knew it would be a challenge. For 50 years, Myanmar was a military dictatorship completely cut off to foreigners. About 6 years ago, it was re-opened. However foreign travel is still highly regulated—isolated to “tourist” designations.
But our trip to is NOT about seeing the countries “highlights.” It is more about getting off the beaten path. I am seeking the unpredictable, unexpected, and sometimes uncomfortable as an opportunity for adventure.
I am a passionate meditator. I do not meditate because I am good at it or because it is easy. If I am truthful, then it is torturous. It is brutally hard. Way harder than biking or climbing the hardest hill. But, like climbing the hardest hill, you know it will end. And like climbing the hardest hill, there is a reward—a beautiful view, the feeling that you accomplished something, knowing that you are working and training your body.
The reward for meditating comes in many different ways. A new view of yourself—a broader, more accepting, and compassionate view.
I hesitate to share my incredible enthusiasm for one of my favorite hobbies of all time because it has such a negative connotation. Hitchhiking.
I find it to be one of the most rewarding activities in life. It makes me so happy and teaches me so many lessons. I seriously want to jump up and down when I think about it.
While it might be time consuming, I have NEVER experienced any sense of danger, only kindness and generosity.
A couple weeks ago I hitchhiked from Berlin to southern Germany; a journey of approximately 900 km. Two years ago I did this on a tandem bicycle (although a different route) and now I came back to retrieve the bicycle and continue the journey through Switzerland, Italy, and Croatia.
The trip took two days and a total of 12 rides.
When my heart started calling I did not know where or how to answer the call.
She has been calling me for a long time. Almost thirty years.
Many things kept me from answering the call.
First, I did not know it was my heart. The call came in many forms—all were pretty uncomfortable physically and emotionally.
It was not a sweet, gentle call.
It was a ball of painful longing, sadness, contraction and loneliness surrounded by a thick layer of shame.
One of my greatest joys is doing a scary thing for the first time. Whether camping alone, riding a motor bike alone through Thailand, or hitchhiking by myself--I always feel a great reward when I have done it.
CAMPING OVERNIGHT ALONE
In March 2016, my boyfriend, René, and I decided to walk part of the Arizona Trail. The 800 mile trail begins at the border of Arizona/Mexico and finishes at the border of Arizona/Utah (of course it can also be walked the other direction.)
We hired someone through Craigslist to drive us to the remote Mexican border where the trail starts. We had previously stashed food and water along the way because there is nothing but desert for many days. This helped our load because we already had the tent, sleeping mats, food and water for the first part, clothes, stove, purifier, and sleeping bags for the cold March evenings.
Using an Arizona Trail website we identified where to expect water along the way based on recent sitings.
Travel has given me the opportunity to explore both my inner world at the same time as I play and move about in the outer world.
I feel like I have been cracked open. More vulnerable, more receptive, more available to others and myself, more raw, more agreeable to all that life has to offer me. As a result, I have liberated myself from some systems of belief that no longer serve me. "Acceptable" body image is one example.
The seed was planted when I was 13 years old. Stay thin. You are more lovable when you are thin. And when the seed sprouted, it just grew and grew and grew.
It happened one day in 1982. I lived in Sarasota, Florida where the popular girls wore Jordache, Sassoon, Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans — as tight as possible. I had a pair of the Sassoon jeans but was not allowed to wear the tight version. I just remember feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
And that is when the voice in my head started a monologue that went on for years. You can only be lovable if you look and act like these girls in their tight jeans.
I am in Croatia. This was not a planned trip. I was supposed to be in Berlin for four months but ran into visa problems. With only a few days notice, my boyfriend and I chose our destination, bought a ticket, packed our things, and flew to Pula, Croatia—a place I knew nothing about.
For us, traveling is more than 50% about the food. And Croatia delivers!
In May 2015, I walked the entire Camino Frances from St. Jean Pied de Port to Finisterre— `528 miles in 29 days. For most people that would be enough.
But when I met a group of guys from Belgium in Finisterre who said they had just walked through the night, I said “I want to do that!”
It is always a bit sad to finish the Camino. There is a peace and grounding about this shared community of people moving together directed by yellow arrows and shells. One more day of walking sounded nice.
My walking buddy agreed to go only if we could attempt to walk 100km.
These stories are about my inner and outer journey as a nomad with no address, a citizen of the world. My journey is about challenging myself by embracing the unpredictable, uncomfortable, and also joyful moments. My hope is to inspire, motivate, and entertain you.