Hello, hello wanderlustfam, albeit we are already well into January and I had fervently hoped to have had a lot of my ramblings on my adventures and misadventures up by now! Alas, the Universe has had other plans. It has been a crazy time (isn’t it always?) and I won’t go into boring you with the details because those are inconsequential: but the upshot of having a Universe imposed hiatus is oodles of time for soul searching! So, welcome once again, to my lil corner of the interwebs, grab a cuppa or a glass of champagne, and let’s delve right in, shall we? Hopefully, I will share some WanderInspo in the process!
I have been mulling over what to write and share with you all for weeks now. Yes, even when I am in the throes of life, this passion project of mine, Harpreet’s Wanderlust…Footsteps Across The Globe, is always on my mind. I thought about a round-up of 2018, which, other than some personal events in December was one of my best years and I would even dare to say it was epic, and so I thought that a post on the fab, the drab and the totally ugly things that happened in 2018 would be apt. But the words didn’t flow. So then, I thought about sharing what’s on my ever growing Wanderlustlist for this year and beyond. Again, the words didn’t flow…needless to say, I suffered from a case of writer’s block, because I have been reminded by a dear friend that I am an over-achiever and suffer from perfectionism, which distracts me from doing what I really want to do: to simply write.
In my soul searching these last few weeks, I have made a conscious effort to be fully present in whatever I choose to do. In my journal sessions I came to realise that I live very much in a cloudy haze and in so doing, I don’t appreciate the present moment. I also suffer(ed) from a disease that I blame social media for: comparisonitis and I forget that those “check in’s and feelings” on Facebook and those little squares on Instagram, as pretty as they may be, are just someone else’s highlight reel: and good for them really! But, in spending hours scrolling through the online world I forget to focus on my own patch, treating life like one big grocery list and I often don’t realise that really life is what is happening RIGHT NOW when I’m busy trying to live and Maya Angelou’s words come to mind:
“Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away…”
And so, this led me to trawl through the pages of my journals to truly delve into the moments over the last few years that have taken my breath away and made me grateful to be alive. Needless to say, I am most present when I travel and Wanderlust features strongly making a whopping 90% of what makes me happy being the memories created when Wanderlusting, which I am sure all you fellow serial Wanderlusters out there will identify with! Even more profound are the feelings that being in certain places and having specific experiences evoke. So, I thought I’d share a few with you to give you a little peek into the moments that have made me feel present and truly alive and the feeling that evoked it, because after all – feelings are what make you want to pursue something in the first place!
•Conquering fear and not negotiating with my mind: Snorkelling with Whale Sharks in Djibouti, seeing the Victoria Falls and hanging out with Gorillas in Rwanda.
Perhaps the greatest thing about these experiences are the control that I had over my own monkey mind because firstly, being in the vicinity of Silverbacks and usurping in their territory isn’t an easy feat to achieve, and secondly, I have a serious phobia of large bodies of water, especially the ocean and waterfalls. In all three countries – Rwanda, Djibouti and Zimbabwe, it was one of those mind over matter moments where I felt the fear and did it anyway: hung out with Gorillas, jumped in to swim alongside a gentle giant in the blue depths of the Indian Ocean, and walked on the edges of cliffs to marvel at the gushing of water into an abyss below. I am still working on my mind but know that when I really want to, the yapper within loses to the braver me that wants to conquer fear once and for all.
The feeling: Dealing with Fear and honing in the power of the mind. Something that I want to explore even more this year.
• Exploring uncharted territory – Ethiopia: a country that I am not yet done with…
As I said in my article Footsteps in Ethiopia…A Travel Guide for an Epic Trip to the Land of Origins (which was shamelessly stolen by not one but two blogs which I would love to name and shame so that the none the wiser readers know that they are indulging in stolen content!!!):
….Ethiopia is mesmerising. To date, it remains firmly at the top of my Wanderlustlist of places I have set Footsteps in. This country, its treasures and her people have left an indelible mark on me and I only want to explore it more…. Harpreet’s Wanderlust
The feeling: Being truly alive! Triumph, glee and a sense of having satisfied Wanderlust exploring a place that is so off the beaten path and is so raw and real. Oh, and not to forget having billions of pictures to freeze beautiful memories in time and look back in awe at some of the truly surreal experiences Wanderlustmate M and I had out here: from exploring ancient Churches (some hidden in craggy peaks of hard to reach mountains) to marvelling at martian like landscapes and sleeping under the stars in the salt pans as salt caravans traipse silently alongside to conquering the climb up and sleeping on the rim of a live volcano: indeed there is no choice but to be fully present and feel alive!
• Having Wanderlust dreams come true
When life is hurtling past faster than two shakes of a lambs tail, it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and forget that you are living/have lived what was once a dream. Because truly, everything starts off as a dream! Taking stock, there have been a myriad of moments where I have had Wanderlust dreams come true. Visiting Lake Bled in Slovenia, hiking up to the Tigers Nest (Taktsang) Monastery, lighting 108 Butter Lamps and having tea with a Monk in Paro, Bhutan, watching the sun rise in Cappadocia with Hot Air Balloons dotted around in a cotton candy sky and over Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, lighting a candle in a tiny Church perched high up in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia…these are but a handful of moments where Wanderlust dreams have come true, and I know there are plenty more where that came from!
The feeling: Pure and Simple – Gratitude. Something that I need to focus more on again, in 2019.
• Food, food glorious food…and wine!
I couldn’t possibly leave out how I feel when I am eating and it is very often food or wine that connects me to a place. Earthy truffles in Tuscany, fresh Pesto in Liguria, sweet shrimp with baby strawberries and peppery arugula in Evora, blue lobster in a Michelin Star restaurant in Beaune…these are but a few dishes that take me right back to the places I set Footsteps in. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the wine…the beautiful journeys Wanderlustmate M and I have taken to indulge the budding oenophiles within us: from the vineyards of Southern Africa to the stunning wine regions of Tuscany, Portugal and France, and off the beaten path to the wine region of Kakheti in Georgia where we even managed to harvest and stomp grapes!
The feeling: Appreciation for the simple things that make something ordinary totally extraordinary – again, the feeling of being truly ALIVE!
• Exploring true hidden gems at home in Kenya
I have begun to appreciate my homeland a lot more these last few years. The adventures had in places like Finch Hattons, Lentorre, Solio and Segera have only whet my appetite for more. To think that in a couple of hours you can be sat on a deck listening to chirping birds, or by your own private plunge pool in the wilderness overlooking a waterhole or sat in vicinity of gentle giants like rhino and elephants is something that until recently, I took for granted. In my attempt at living a more present and mindful life, I intend to explore Kenya a lot more!
The feeling: finding acres of diamonds in your own backyard: and not taking for granted the hidden gems you can find on your own doorstep!
It has been such fun leafing through the pages of my journals and walking down memory lane with you all and I hope that there has been some WanderInspo shared. Have any of my feelings resonated with you? Do let me know in the comments, I truly enjoy hearing from you! I will leave you this quote that I came across on Instagram this morning that I think sums up being mindful and living in the present for me:
…be so fiercely committed to the things YOU care about and the vision of the life you want that you don’t have the time, energy or need to compare yourself to other people… Jamie Varon.
…and in so doing, may there be many moments in life that take your breath away! Until next time, Happy Wanderlusting! Xoxo