365 rotations and a revolution…

The soundtrack to my year.

A month back, on the 10th of April, I lived a new milestone. Unceremoniously I sat on a sand dune overlooking an oasis in the desert of Peru, ushered in the beginning of my second year as a homeless nomadic soul and closed out my first year of unforgettable sights, sounds, feelings and life experiences. It has truly been an incredible year.

Incredible doesn’t mean it’s just been a year of careless fun. Sure, there has been a bit of that, but mostly it’s been a year of high productivity, creativity, a lot of learning, heart-ache, loneliness, and of course all of that in combination with massive exploration, discovery, activity, novelty, and unabashed beauty. Ya, it’s been incredible, but it hasn’t been easy. I’ve got my regrets, you all know them extensively by now and I think about all the things I’ve lost and the people who are no longer a walk or metro ride away, every day. And aside from that, at times I have issues with finances, at others issues with work, chasing internet access, missing loved ones, nursing some wounds, dealing with language barriers, trying to manage remaining logistics in Canada like driver’s licenses, medical insurance, dealing with terrible food at times, blah blah. Some of those still aren’t resolved but some are also becoming irrelevant as more time passes and the likelihood of returning to Canada to live falls to near 0. The world has so much to offer and I can’t find any reason why I shouldn’t continue to find those offerings, revel in them, share them, and become a part of them.

As I sit on a bus once again, crossing the night pointed towards Arequipa, Peru, coming from the small but surprisingly lively town of Nazca, looking out into a pitch black desert night sky, flanked by occasional vistas onto the Pacific ocean highlighted by a setting moon, underneath a ribbon of stars that are so incredibly clear and awe-inspiring that even from within the bus I can say I’ve never seen a starry night as crisp and wondrous, I once again let my mind wander into the past and forward into the future while also contemplating the fact that I never knew you could see the nebulous nexus of our galaxy form a smile across the entire face of the heavens, from horizon to horizon. But this isn’t what strikes me the most as I write this. What overwhelms me in this moment is the crushing sense of gratitude and love I feel for all the people and events that have lead me here. Without a doubt, I know I am meant to be here, in this moment, in this space, both with my heart and my mind, but I also know none of this would have been possible without all the people who have invested in me throughout my life. Starting with my incredible family and sister, to my childhood friends and teachers, my 22+ year old Montreal family composed of some of the best friends and people you could ever wish for, through to the fantastic women I have been so blessed to share years of my life with. This sense of gratitude stretches out to encompass all the hardships, pain and frustrations I’ve endured and that have helped shape me and subtly pointed me in this direction, bringing me to a Peruvian coastline a few days after having circled the sun completely for the first time without a home, and without all the people who have most impacted me, given me love, and who have earned every ounce of love I feel towards them. So, let me officially say to all of you out there who have allowed me into your lives, who have shown me how to live, who have shared your lives, fears, pain, and joy with me, whether you are one of my many brothers, one of my adopted sisters, or one of the generous souls I once called a life-partner, THANK YOU for all that you have given me, that you shared with me, that you have invested in me, that you have loved me for. This moment is yours as much as mine and I hope I can share a little of it with you, regardless of where you are or where I’ve found myself.

For you all I want to share small pieces of an orbit around the sun and of the 365 rotations on our axis that have occurred since last I had all of you close.

I’ve endeavored to live a life I can be proud of, filled with compassion, generosity, adventure, discovery, self-reflection. I’ve fallen short at times, exceeded expectations at others, been humbled and found new reasons to appreciate who I am. But enough about that, I want to immortalize some of the things I’ve been so fortunate to experience, as I know that many will be forgotten otherwise. It’s true. My ability to recall events is horrible. My memory works almost entirely based on cues or context and being able to simply pluck out a moment in time out of thin air, is almost impossible, so this will surely help me consolidate those memories and allow me a resource to come back to and recount the things I’ve done. So here goes.

My life experiences over the period of a solar and personal revolution

Over the past year I’ve…

snorkeled the planet’s second largest reef (Belize)
hiked up one of the tallest mountains in central America (Acatenango)
seen the tallest sand dune on the planet (near Nazca)
seen the earth shart itself unabashedly (Fuego Volcano)
swum in some of the clearest waters on earth
sailed across the caribean (Panama to Cartagena, Columbia)
seen dolphins, sloths, monkeys, llamas, snakes, frogs, sharks, vicuna, manatees, squid, barracuda, alpaca, countless new birds, fish I’ve never seen before, the largest hummingbird in the world, turtles, Andean condors, and a bunch of other animals, all in their natural habitats
seen the most desolate landscapes, the lushest forests, the most beautiful sunsets, the darkest, starriest nights, a full lunar eclipse from a Mexican island (Isla Mujeres)
skinny dipped in a black ocean (Isla Mujeres)
done the highest bungee jump in Latin America (Costa Rica)
seen the ruins of some of the most amazing and mysterious civilizations in history

flown in a 6 seater Cessna
ridden a motorcycle on railroad tracks
seen people at their best and their worst, and seen myself at my best and at my worst
witnessed the glory of numerous waterfalls
seen the tallest palm trees in the world (Valle de Cocora)
walked across the crater of a volcano and boarded down the slope of another volcano (near Leon, Nica)
ridden a dune buggy across the desert
jumped into a swarm of bio-luminescent plankton (Columbia)
seen a good friend perform live with Placido Domingo
had a 40 minute conversation with a barracuda in the wild (San Blas Islands)
hiked into and out of the 2nd deepest canyon in the world (Colca Canyon)
showered naked under a waterfall
seen close to a dozen volcanoes
seen a midget lucha libre match in Mexico City
swam alone across a shipping channel to get to a snorkel location
taken a boat up a river into the jungle (Guatemala)colca canyon geyser
gotten dengue fever (Nica)
almost drowned while surfing
seen the majestic andes
seen mummies in their original tombs (Nazca)
seen a gorgeous blue and white geyser (Colca Canyon)
swum in underground caves (Mexico)
inner-tubed down a jungle river (San Cipriano, Colombia)
seen the mysterious Nazca lines
slept on the deck of a catamaran crossing the Caribbean under a clear night sky
hung out with a school of squid for 20 minutes (Caye Caulker, Belize)
sand-boarded down a desert dune (Huacachina)
scuba-dived in a cenote, scuba-dived and snorkeled into a sunken wreck, been surrounded by a school of 10,000 fish and once by a school of 12 massive barracuda… alone

I’ve slept in over 70 hotels/hostels/homes, taken over 50 buses, visited over 50 unique locations, traveled across 11 countries.

l’ve learned:
to scuba dive
to surf
to kitesurf
to speak Spanish
to care less about embarrassing myself
to start up conversations
that my favorite color is blue
that I really suck at a lot of things
that I’m not 25 anymore
that I make some pretty big mistakes
that I’m not as strong as I thought in many ways
that I’m stronger than I thought in some ways
that I am really good at being alone
that I’m more fun than I give myself credit for
that I’m incredibly adaptable
that I can be spontaneous
that I can be responsible even when faced with an entire world of options and distractions
that I’m pretty flawed in some important ways
that I’m not just positive for the people around me, but just inherently positive
that money really isn’t all that important to me, but that I’m way more ambitious than I’ve ever thought I could be
that I shouldn’t fear what may come
that the only thing I miss from my Montreal life, aside from my friends, is lounging on my coach on a rainy day watching a movie, a show, a tennis match, an F1 race, or playing a Playstation game
that I’m actually quite good at managing my life and making decisions when no one else is involvedkitesurfing in lago calima
that the world is FULL and brimming over with beautiful people
that I’m not above getting lost like anyone else, but that I can also find my way back rather quickly
that I absolutely love exploring life, people, and this incredible planet we all share
that the world is being suffocated and defiled by plastic
that I care about people genuinely and openly and I trust life

And do you know why I’ve done all of this stuff? Why I’m here, why I’ve dropped off the grid and chosen a different path for this period of my life? It’s because you’ve all shown me how. You’ve reminded me through your actions, your smiles, your stories, your generosity, your appreciation, your strength how life can be lived, how varied and wondrous it can be, how each of us has a different take on it, needs from it, contributions to it. You all shared parts of you, which infected parts of me, slowly nudging me to jump into the unknown with the belief that I would find something beautiful, and I have, because you’ve prepared me for it, given me the inspiration, the strength, the love to seek out the mysteries of life without fear in my heart. How can I ever thank you enough for that? I likely can’t, but I can at least share it and that’s what I’m trying to do.

I’m so excited to keep adding to this list. Writing it down so I can one day look back and remember all over again how many awesome things I have been so lucky to experience. For now, this is my list. There’s stuff I know I’ve forgotten to add to this list already. Further reason to write stuff down as quickly as I can, but in the end already looking back at this past year, I have a smile on my face and plenty of gratitude in my heart for what has truly been an epic adventure. Sure it’s mostly me working from a hostel, as I worked from my desk at home, but the times when I would normally have been at a friend’s having drinks or a small party or out on a terrace, or playing volleyball, instead I’m doing all the things above and for that I consider myself really fortunate and proud of my decision to have made a change and tried something new and something different to everything I had known before. So, here’s to a year past and a year to come.


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