21. Bosnia & Herzegovina – To Jump or Not to Jump

Creative Nonfiction, Reflections, Thirty by Thirty, Travel

The sight of the Mostar Bridge in Bosnia & Herzegovina is one that stirs the heart of visitors and locals alike. In 2015 it was selected for one of the Red Bull Cliff Diving Competitions and, as I found myself backpacking without a strict itinerary, I made arrangements to journey there from Dubrovnik. For me, the thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie within still comes out on occasion, typically when towering heights are romanced by deep waters. With my visit spanning a couple of days, I was ecstatic in thinking that, as soon as the crowds cleared out, I would walk along the extraordinary landmark and jump off the bridge myself. After spending one afternoon downstream on some riverbank cliffs, I had a profound shift in my thinking that has affected how I perceive my travels, and the people I meet as a result of those travels. My awakening in Mostar spurred the dilemma I face with understanding my own rite of passage.

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8. Dominican Republic – Entitled, Will Travel

Intercultural Communication, Thirty by Thirty, Travel

It had been a year since the devastating earthquake hit the western coast of the small island, Hispaniola. With all the assistance offered to Haiti, authorities had requested only medically skilled professionals apply to enter the rubble covering Port-au-Prince. That being the case, our short term mission team had been sent to the Dominican Republic on the eastern side. A group of Haitian refugees had managed to avoid being housed in a stationary camp and were instead living in a make-shift village. Our missionary team came to the nation prepared with skits and games and children’s Bible story songs. What I intend on sharing today is by no means meant to incite anger, but rather depth of thought.

6. Cambodia – first they killed my education

Creative Nonfiction, Thirty by Thirty, Travel

A blood-red sky clothed earth at dusk,
I gazed through the chain-link fence.
Heavy-laden within my being I
pondered new-found understanding,
and each-and-every-thing I never knew.

At a take-a-book-leave-a-book, one had stood out,
the auto-biography of a brave little girl.
Travelers before me left worn, tear-stained pages,
its burden opposing the paperback’s light-weight.
Stories that followed were gut-wrenching tales
of power, corruption, and war-torn rememberings.
First They Killed My Father, the heart-breaking title proclaimed,
and tragic words of non-fiction were uttered.

4. Nepal – Freed by Peace

Creative Nonfiction, Intercultural Communication, Thirty by Thirty, Travel

Coffee colored strokes danced across my hand like ripples. Swirling lines and accents spoke a dynamic script, narrating the setting and characters who had burst onto the scene of my life only weeks prior. Giggling girls gathered around the next candidate and watched their house-mommy paint a lattice of love with both concentration and ease. Their eyes like marbles, I wondered if it was the charcoal eyeliner or innocent delight that widened their gaze so. Sitting on the staircase below a tall, slender window, natural light spilled upon us, causing the coconut oil coating our henna to shimmer like liquid gold on the palette of our diverse skin tones.

Nepal Collage

Henna. Kathmandu, Nepal.

3. Thailand – Put Me in My Place

Creative Nonfiction, Thirty by Thirty, Travel

Had just two weeks passed since I was watching Sex and the City from the comfort of my tempurpedic bed in Minneapolis? Could it really have been five days from the time I was drinking too many cocktails in New York City, embarrassing myself by [wink] “whispering secrets” in the ear of a stranger? In a bungalow clear across the globe, I now sweat – I mean sat – [in my own sweat, nonetheless] – with furrowed brow and a quivering lip.

The less than reliable electricity meant I didn’t feel the soothing breeze of the rickety fan, nor see the ceiling lamp illuminate the mosquito net I had been so enamored by the night before. It also meant I couldn’t see any of the unwelcomed pests – or pets, we called them to assure ourselves of our safety – but no light with which my sister could see my sour expression didn’t mean we both couldn’t feel the lump in my throat from choking back tears.

Thirty Nations by my Thirtieth Birthday

Creative Nonfiction, Thirty by Thirty

Discovery: of culture, of countries, of character revealed.

The World Pushpin Pano

For years I have explained that my love for travel and appreciation for culture is rooted in an obscure longing to find gems scattered across the globe that belong in my soul. Reflection is not always my strong suit, as I tend to move quite fast through life. However, upon realizing I am a few countries shy of tacking thirty pushpins into different nations on my bulletin board world map, I’ve made it a quest to visit them prior to my thirtieth birthday. Whilst preparing to tackle the next adventure, I will be focusing on how traveling has changed me and helped me see the world more fully. Abroad or at home, both innocence and ignorance have been my companions. My first international exposure as an adult was in 2009. I was a twenty-one-year-old little girl, coming out of a socially-awkward childhood, clueless as to cultural differences and customs.

The adventures were intoxicating, though I believe they would be better referred to as conquests… pushpins, if you will. Desperate to quench an insatiable hunger and thirst for meaning, purpose, and understanding, I leapt from one life experience to another. Volumes of journals were filled, with the occasional page left blank, unresolved, waiting for the completion of the thought, the comprehension of the events at hand. I never felt prepared to reflect or ponder the past, but grasped at the new, leaving behind gaps for which I could not yet find satisfactory expression.

The hope for this blog series is that in some way I will be able to contribute to the community of explorers; whether describing locations or customs or the invaluable lessons that come with exposing yourself to them. In reading and listening to other travelers’ experiences, I have been inspired. It has given me insight to what I can learn from my journey because, in some way or other, I can relate to theirs. Thank you in advance for letting me speak honestly on where I’ve been, physically as well as mentally, and how my addiction to travel has propelled me to delve into the greater world, and how myself and others view it so differently.

Beginning 31 August 2017, thirty Thursdays remain before the milestone in question, and each week until March 25, 2018, I will share a story from the journey.

It is my hope that this connects me with more like-minded people and travelers, ones who have valuable insight to the world and the persons with whom we share it.

Let maps, adventure, and pages of journals unfold:

 

Read along in the posts below:

1. USA – Maps and Markers
2. Canada – The Awe of a Child
3. Thailand – Put Me in My Place
4. Nepal – Freed by Peace
5. Malaysia – The Worlds of Murphy’s Law
6. Cambodia – first they killed my education
7. Mexico – Below Borders 
8. Dominican Republic – Entitled, Will Travel
9. China – Menu Mania
10. Myanmar – Photographic Glimpse
11. Nicaragua – For the Love of Bicicletas
12. Panama – A Cloud Forest Illuminated
13. Norway – Reality Show or Reality Check
14. France – Fromage with Friends
15. Germany – Drunk King, Sober Saunterer
16. Netherlands – For the Love of Beer
17. England – “Show Me the Night That I Dreamed About Before”
18. Spain – Mermaids of Menorca
19. Italy – When In Roam
20. Croatia – The Universal Language of Tragedy
21. Bosnia & Herzegovina – To Jump or Not to Jump
22. Poland – Prisons, Pierogies, and Queens
23. South Korea – Strolling Through Seoul
24. Israel & Palestine – A Gallery

25. Iceland – Frozen Hearts and Puddled Lands

Angst of a Gypsy

Networking, Travel, Words

Warmest welcome and kind regards. One thing I would love to share with you is wonder. The gypsy vagabond community has, in so many ways, attributed to who I am becoming as a human, a friend, and an explorer. I have been embraced and sharpened by some of the most inquisitive minds during my travels. Through CitizenPushpin, I hope to connect and network with more of these like-minded travelers: to share stories and relate with one another, to inspire each other to dare greatly, and to collaborate our gifts and skills so that connection and curiosity are relentlessly fostered.

Angst of a Gypsy, or how it pertains to me, is that I want my travels and study of cultures to give back. Receiving from the world is incredibly humbling. It excites me to know that a universe of individuals are seeking, not only to see the world, but also to share what they learn about people, places, and perspectives with others. Each of us observes and engages so differently with our surroundings and the colorful cultures that stretch across the globe. I am honored to be part of a movement that encourages learning and appreciating our differences, promotes lifestyle adventure journalism, and achieves the knitting of hearts through a language called laughter. And can we talk about how stunning this planet is?

I’d like to share the lyrics of a song I wrote:

Searching high and low for the scattered pieces,
hoping that they’ll fill our puzzled souls…
Moved by sights and rhythms of the nations,
tell me, can you make my heart be whole?
See my tokens, rings, and patches,
do they tell my story, dear?
I admire your rites of passage,
but my own is one I have come to fear.
Treasure box of memories never leave me;
mine is not the only tale to tell.

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Charms & tokens fashioned into a dreamcatcher.

 

Thank you for reading my words and for exuding the joy in the journey, yourself.

Catch you on the pin side.
@citizenpushpin