Friday, January 07, 2011

Wings (Clipped?)

Our passports expired December 31, 2010. We had initially planned to renew them but the steep price of 110$ each made it impossible this year. Letting them expire felt like a closure of some other part of our lives together. Locked in the U.S. we are until we can come up with the sum of 320$ to let us out again (once they expire you have to apply anew which costs 160$ now).

I remember when we received them in the mail, it was the fall of 1999. we were planning our first trip out of the country, to africa, of all places. South Africa to be exact. We quit our jobs, we tried to pack as light as possible and we left home, hoping to stay away for at least three months, maybe more. We left on a plane to Holland right about this time in January, arriving in Amsterdam, impressed with the airport Schipol, venturing out via public transport, welcomed by my father’s Dutch-Indo family that call Holland home. It was bitter cold winter and we wandered the city for over a week, taking in all the amazing architecture and spirit that is the city of Amsterdam.
canal walk
We loved it, I still remember the feeling of walking through the van gogh museum, seeing painting after painting gathered in one centralized spot. It was almost shattering.

We also had an interesting encounter with the Dutch ‘emergency’ room due to a terrible mix of Larium, strong Belgian beer and some pot. Never ever to be repeated again. And then we were on a place headed to Jo-burg, into summer and far far away from anything called home. South Africa was beautiful and shocking and disorienting and enchanting and all the things that places far far away from home can be.


But oddly enough, parts of it felt just like home, some parts are in the same climate zone as Southern California and we would hike and feel suddenly relocated to home. Until baboons starting hooting from the cliffs above. There were rafting trips and hostels, monkey encounters and almost getting swept out to sea in pilfered canoes.

south africa

There was the endless round of travelers from other countries asking us why the hell we elected Bush, there were the vestiges of apartheid and black women who would do our laundry for a few rand if we wanted. Plates and plates of fresh calamari that we could have for a dollar or so American. Small towns and cities and slums, and only instant coffee. It was a most eye-opening way to leave the States for the first time.


2000 was a year of travel for us, we were in Ireland for a month, Hawaii for a month, Arizona, Utah, Oregon. We did not work, we just wandered. I was 25, Tim 23 … no plans yet, unmarried, no home, free in so many ways. We had disposable income that year because of a settlement I received from an accident long ago. I do not regret a penny that we spent in travel that year. I do regret the chunk of money I invested in stocks trying to do the grown up thing. Funny how sometimes doing what is responsible is not nearly as productive as doing what feels right.

I am pretty sure we will never go to Africa for three months again to do the hostel route and party like rock stars. But that is okay. Since that trip we did another to Australia which ended after three months of car living; spines in their late 20s and a country far far more expensive than South Africa sent us home. And another with the boys to Canada. But the latest journey involves the parenting of two young boys who fill up our lives and days in ways that I could never have dreamed of back in those days

And now the latest dream. It includes a move, a place to call a new home, some animals, some land, and access to all the things we have always loved. Mountains, oak trees, snow, water … we are tentatively stretching out to touch this dream, try to shape it and make sense out of change. But for some reason it already feels like it fits.

Our hearts hold instincts, I truly believe this. They lead us, these instincts, to seek the right path. The right journey. Not destination. There should never be a certain point destination. Cause we all have just one, really.

Onward to this new facet to the latest travel. We may not need a passport but I am hoping we find a pass to the next road.

Thought I would note that all pictures were taken on our very first digital camera, a Sony shaped like a SLR. Digital was still pretty new in 1999 and I remember the camera cost 700 bucks or so. Upon reflection, I now realize they had programmed a lot of flexibility into that little camera. It served us well.


LauraC said...

Jon is about to go on a two week round-the-world work trip... literally around the world. Korea, Japan, South Africa in two weeks. Before kids, I would have schemed a way to go along but now it just seems unfair that he has to be so far away from the boys for so long.

Can't wait to see where you end up.

Kellee said...

All of that travel sounds amazing. I did most, hell maybe all now that I think about it, of my world travel before the age of 13 - and believe me it was a LOT. I regret that I was at an age where I couldn't appreciate it in the same way. Hmmm, maybe a trip is in my future. :)

Dana said...

I saved a lot of money the two years I worked as an English teacher in rural Japan -- then spent it all traveling. Like you, I don't regret a penny.
I wrote recently that my life as a mother of four doesn't afford me the same freedom to travel the way I did - dangerously, cheaply, etc.
But this mothering gig is an adventure of its own kind.
Can't wait to read about your family's new adventures.