Earlier this year I made the decision to quit my job, and take a few months out to see the world. I love London, but a combination of things had made me exhausted with my life in the big city. I was ready to leave my comfort zone and go on some adventures!
With just over two weeks until I return, I've started to reflect on my experience. Firstly, it was the greatest decision I ever made. So much has happened...
- I've learned Spanish and eaten amazing street food in Mexico.
- Been stuck on a boat in the middle of a storm, and narrowly missed an altercation with a renowned gang of rapists in Belize.
- Hiked up and toasted marshmallows on an active volcano in Guatemala.
- Drunk rum cocktails in some of the most beautiful hot springs in the world in Honduras.
- Volcano boarded in Nicaragua.
- Taken a selfie with a sloth in Costa Rica... and completed the famous free-fall Tarzan Swing.
- Been clubbing on remote islands in Panama... And visited indigenous tribes.
- Got a ride in a classic car in Cuba, then spent the evening in a smoky jazz club.
If I'd been in London these past few months, what would I have to show for it? Several restaurant bills, a hefty cheque for my rent, and no doubt a lot of work-related stress.
Over the last three months I've made tonnes of new friends from all over the globe. I've met people who were in identical situations to me. I've been 6000 miles away but met someone who lived on the next street to me in Camden. I've developed new passions - for culture, wildlife, salsa! Things I didn't know I would love. And yes, I've definitely left my comfort zone! Since when was I the kind of girl who would fling herself down the side of a volcano for fun? Seriously, me?!
So what next? How do I capture all of these amazing experiences and keep them with me as I return to the chaos of London. I've become more patient (you would too if you had to adapt Central American service!), more grateful, less quick to judge, more open and more curious. I've loved hearing each person's life story. From the Israeli soldier I met in Mexico who was taking a break after being shot defending his country... to the Belizian receptionist who feared his life due to gang violence. From my Guatemalan tour guide who was working on a cooking book... To my Costa Rican tour guide who was following his dreams of working on eco projects. From the Panamanian family who ran our hotel who had very little, but wanted to give us everything... to the poor Guatemalan family I stayed with who had some of the happiest kids I've ever met. These are the people that shaped my journey.
It would be impossible to say I'm ready to return - the thought of reality scares me. Christmas shopping on Oxford Street... being surrounded by East London hipsters on a Friday night... cramming myself onto the Northern Line in rush hour. No thanks... Do I have to come back? But then I remember, just over three months ago I didn't feel ready to leave London, intimidated by the many unknowns that lay ahead. I guess I'll just have to take it in my stride. I'll let you know how it goes!
Chloe blogs at Wanderlust Chloe.