22 things from traveling in 2022
Here I am, a few days before the year ends, and I am feeling relieved of all that 2022 brought my way. This year has been… intense. It started calmly, on Cape Verdean rhythms, with dear people around and it ends on the same note, in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, in the Maldives. It’s what was between the beginning and the end that defined it and made the most memorable moments. Exactly like in life, it was 2022’s journey, rather than the start point or destination.
If I look at 2022, I will say it was a roller-coaster of excitement, joy, opportunities, success, doubt, loss, failure, and anxiety. It had everything and did not let me go through it without having real emotions, lifetime memories, and huge challenges. I lived every second of it with the same intensity and while people might have told me it was not wise, I think it is something that defines me.
So…what I learned from this year?
1. Photography is a miracle. I spend a lot of days this year with my camera and it always made me feel better. There is a lot I have to learn about this skill, but I have no doubt I will keep practicing it the next year.
2. The first step of healing is acceptance..and that is not easy. Accepting how you feel, who you are, or what you have done can be a challenging task. Denial comes almost naturally and it is more or less a coping mechanism. However, if you really want to move on and heal, start by accepting.
3. Home is where the air is salty and the seaside is within walking distance. Ok, maybe this is a bit poetic, but all I wanted to say is that in 2022 I learned or remembered that I feel the best in warm places, where I can practice water sports and enjoy incredible sunsets. In my ideal world, I will settle on an island ❤️.
4. Friends are a blessing. I am lucky enough to have friends that, even if we do not meet often, there is a sense of safety, and belonging. It never faded away. Even if I often feel guilty or sad for not sharing more moments with them or for being absent on their birthdays, this year, more than ever, I felt incredibly grateful to have them in my life.
5. Relationships are hard.
6. Things are better shared. Everything seems more vivid and moments are better imprinted in the memory. Sharing gives intensity and to be fair…I am quite an intense person.
7. Feeling stuck is painful. It is related to my choice of leaving Romania a few years back. For the first time since I moved away, I returned there for a few months and it has been….difficult. I was more of a stranger than a local, more of a passenger, than someone who will stay. I felt stuck for the first time in my life and it was not pleasant. While I will always visit my family and friends, I am convinced I will not even try to spend so much time again there.
8. Even the thought of losing your beloved ones is terrifying. You are never ready. There is not much to add or say. I cannot give any advice or comfort anyone. If you are going or have been going through something similar recently, remember you are not alone. I send you all my love and warm thoughts, you can handle this! In my case, I was constantly at odds, if whether I should settle back home or I should travel… it is still a pending question in my life
9. Adventures are great. My mum said I was always ready to pack my stuff and leave as a kid. It did not change much growing up, and setting up on a new adventure is still exciting for me. I love the feeling of trying something new, the emotions and the curiosity of how it is going to be, and the sensation that it comes with.
10. Working with people is challenging because we all have different baggage, we are going through different things and very likely we come from different cultures. Being mindful of the ones that you are sharing in your workplace is very important for me, but it often felt challenging.
11. A new job can easily drain your energy, simply because it is new. If I do something, I try my best to do it well, and changing jobs made this entire mantra that I had a bit stressful. I am extremely glad for the new opportunity I got and all the new things I learned, but as I expected, there is a price you pay, right? When having a digital nomad life, this feeling seems even stronger, because there is an additional layer of stress that you simply add to your life. However, at the end of the day, it is a step ahead for my own development and growth. I knew it was just temporary and, in the end, I will get used to the role.
12. I missed the Arabic world. Only when I landed in Egypt, I made this realization. Everything was familiar and seemed easy. That kindness and hospitality that I did not find anywhere else, those flavors and tastes that I always loved, the dusty roads and chaotic driving …they were all a reason to be joyful, grateful for being there… I missed it.
13. Hugs are good. It was a few years ago only when I truly learned how to hug people, for at least 60 seconds, with proper physical contact. Back then, I found it odd and for a very long time I kind of denied the need or delight that I had when getting and offering hugs. It is time to confess, I like it and it makes me feel better. Regardless of how many people I meet around the world, the best hugs are the ones that I get from my beloved ones. Thank you dear family and friends for all the warm hugs you keep offering me!
14. I still love teddy bears. One of my dearest memories from childhood is related to a teddy bear. I lost it in the snow, around Christmas time and I did not let my parents come back home until we found it. I still have it at my parent’s house and whenever I go back there I spend a few minutes with it. Over the years, I considered myself old enough to stop having teddy bears but….we should always keep our inner child alive, right? After some denial, here I am, traveling with a flamingo toy! And while this is about a teddy bear, what I am trying to say is that you should always keep alive your childhood side. It lets you enjoy things and moments easier.
15. I love diving. I never thought it would get so much under my skin, but seeing the marine life became a real passion for me. Diving feels like discovering a new world, at an age when you actually understand it. I sense the curiosity of a kid in front of a new thing and the joy of a parent, the first time they see their toddler walking. It is an entire process. You need to be patient because you will fail. You need to keep trying, so you will improve. Whatever you feel inside, will reflect in the water.
16. Maldives is really a paradise. Besides the well-known resorts and the blue waters, the local islands of Maldives offer a rich culture, coconut water, and the chance to always walk barefoot. With no person walking only in a swimming suit, the islands keep a certain respect, yet it is very relaxed. There is a chill vibe that rules the tiny pieces of land. With the only thought of staying longer when I first got here, I will have almost 2 months here and I am not ready yet to leave…
17. I love writing. It is an on & off process, but writing has always been there in my life. I started writing as a challenge to myself to stop being ashamed of being vulnerable and I learned that I actually like it. The next step is to take another leap of faith and start a new project. It has been on my list for quite some time to help people plan better their trips or become digital nomads. Let’s see how that goes!
18. Being alcohol-free is easy. I am not saying I was an alcoholic, but having a glass of wine over dinner was something I really enjoyed. Since I landed in the Maldives, I did not taste any sip of alcohol. As a Muslim country, it is strictly prohibited by law and while there are places, what people call “safari boats”, that sell alcohol, I decided it was not worth the hustle. I have observed that actually I have no need, other than socially, to consume alcohol. Will I keep it forever? I doubt it, but I will go back to this habit every once in a while.
19 Eat, pray, love or….eat, ready love. Anyway, do it the way you want, but make sure to enjoy every moment you live. It is easy to focus on the negative sides, especially when there is a lot going on in your life, but the truth is that there are always positive aspects. In hard times, do what you love a bit more, and never forget your own mantra.
20. I could move to Cape Verde tomorrow. I was not sure what to expect from this country, but the right feeling to describe it is “sodade”. I left convinced that I would return and if there is one place where I wish I could live for a couple of years, that would be Cape Verde. It was not the comfort that I loved or the large offering from any store, but the feeling that I got there.
21. Traveling can be tiring. I am not trying to complain or brag about it, but moving at least once a month and most of the time around 3 times a month can easily be a big hustle. You need to plan everything, from transportation to internet connection, from accommodation to activities. I ran out of clean clothes this year more than I did in my entire life and I ate more rice than I ever wanted. At the end of the day, it is extra stress, a lifestyle that never allows your body and brain to get in their comfort zone. Even if I love it and I am extremely grateful for it, sometimes it gets me very tired.
22. All in all, Life is a beautiful ride. Wherever it took me this year and whatever happened, at the end of the day, I chose to live. Hiding in a shell, leaving in hard times, or faking it is quite easy, but as I always said….You can run, but you cannot escape, so why not enjoy it? Traveling gives color to my own journey and I love it. I don’t know for how long I will keep this lifestyle, but it is for sure an important part of this ride. It is not anyway the final destination…