Six and a half weeks ago I left Canada for what was bound to be the most terrifying thing I’d ever done. I’d spent the last 48 hours pre-departure second-guessing every decision I made, and then reminding myself (repeatedly) of the reasons why, believing that it’d be worth all of the headaches and nausea and struggle I was putting myself through.
I was heading out for my first international trek.
and feeling totally unprepared.
It was probably just nerves. But could also be because I was totally unprepared. (Just kidding, mom and dad! mostly…)
Although there was a considerable amount of pre-planning required for the volunteer work and Kilimanjaro trek, I also had a lot of time for myself… .and no idea how I would actually spend it.
But that’s the best part! ….Right?
Because I hadn’t actually done a whole lot of research into all those gaps when I wasn’t volunteering or in an airplane, when I stepped off the plane in Antananarivo, Madagascar with only my carry-on at hand, no idea where I was actually going to sleep, and even less of an idea of how I was going to spend my 10 days there, I realized that I had no idea what I was doing.
And thus began the most liberating experience of my life.
Of course, that first moment only lasted about 5 seconds because I couldn’t help but notice the sun was going down and I needed a place to crash, but that all worked out, obviously, so it just lends itself to the case.
Being able to freewheel it is what made it so exciting and not having a clue what I’d actually gotten myself into is what made me that much more receptive to the moments.
K, maybe having a better idea of the value of an Ariary would have afforded a better diet than spending five days living off of peanut butter because I’d miscalculated the conversion in my head and was worried I’d been paying twice as much as I actually was. But at the end of 10 days, I spent only half of what I thought I did, so it ended up being kind of like a little gift to myself for being so frugal and that made it a little bit awesome.
Having had the liberty to explore to my heart’s content and discover things as I went had made it even more awesome. Finding my own way, putting another language into practice and struggling through it were only some of the hurdles I eagerly faced and conquered. And I did it. Maybe I was just lucky, but maybe that really is the joy improvising. And that’s what made it so exiting and rewarding.
Maybe I would have been better off with a little more preparation and research, but it’s irrelevant because I wouldn’t want to change a thing anyway.
As I write this, I have since also finished four weeks of volunteering at two different wildlife centres in South Africa as well, and both were incredible. Still, when the second came to an end, I was a little ridiculously excited to be on my own again to explore another new place and find my own way until the next project begins.
Since I began this adventure, each day I can honestly say there is no place I would rather be, but right where I am, looking forwards to what comes next, whether I know exactly what that is or not.
Even when I was waiting with all of my essentials for the next 6 months of my life weighted awkwardly on my back in the dark of pre-sunrise 5am at the corner where the choppy road to Parc National d’Andasibe meets the N2 somewhere past Moramanga, waiting for a taxi-bruisse I might not recognize, not entirely sure if I was even at the right place for the pick-up, turning down truckers who offered me a hitchhike, and trying to convince myself that the flashlight getting flicked on and off at the top of the hill across the street is just a guy playing with a flashlight and not some guerilla-code signal for a sneak-attack mugging, there was no place I would have rather been, but right there, looking towards whatever came next.
I’m happy to say it wasn’t a mugging.
And don’t panic, mom and dad. I’ve actually done a little more research into the “next steps” now. I can proudly declare: I got this! ;D … I think. (Just kidding!)