2014, what a whirlwind! I had several one of a kind experiences this year and I think I spent a lot of time pinching myself making sure I wasn’t dreaming, exploring new places, meeting new friends and enjoying life has a way of seeming unreal. It has been a treat to go through TONS of photos of the past year and I’ve collected a few to share some of the stand outs.
My day as a Maltese falconer
By far and away one of my more favorite memories of this year. While in Malta I decided to take the Maltese Falcon story to the next level and go to the Malta Falconry Centre to learn the tricks of the trade in falconry. I got to spend the day learning more about several beautiful birds of prey as well as the behind the scenes workings of the center. Everyone there, human and feathered, were so friendly it made for an unforgettable last day in Malta.
Olive picking in Greece
Writing the blog, working on a novel, consulting and billing for Valley Birthplace AND sitting on two different non profit boards did not prove enough for me this year and I decided to take on MORE work while in Greece. Thankfully it was only for a week and could not have been a more fun way to work in the Mediterranean. I stayed at Xenonas fos ke Choros, a guesthouse on the small island of Kythira. Much like Malta I saved the best for last as this was one of the highlights of my time in Greece. We spent half of our time in the olive groves, picking bags and bags of olives to take to the press, and the rest of the time we got to hike and explore the beautiful landscape of Kythira.
Elephant Nature Park, second time on the list it’s so great!
I love these guys so much I can’t seem to keep them off the list, and spoiler alert they will probably be here again next year because I’ll be going to Cambodia in February to volunteer with ENP again for the 3rd year in a row! The week would be magical on it’s own just by being around the elephants but the staff and volunteer group that was there made it that much more special, the group bonded and we left feeling like life long friends.
Setting foot in South America
I had the opportunity to check another continent off the list this year and take my first trip to South America and spend time in Colombia with friend and fellow traveler A Lady Away. We checked out the cities, toured the countryside and lounged beach side leaving me with a unbeatable first impression of South American hospitality and all the beauty that the country holds. I look forward to heading back soon!
Spent a weekend on Turtle Island
Malaysia was one of the more fun months of 2014 and no short of a pattern for the year for saving the best for last, the end of my time there was one of the best parts of the trip. I had the opportunity to see firsthand how one island in the Sulu Sea is protecting sea turtles trying to prevent the species from becoming extinct. I felt like a little kid on Christmas, staying up at night waiting for a momma turtle to come up onto the sand and lay her eggs. We had several turtles hatch earlier in the day and we had the chance to set them off on their journey into the sea!
Be Professional Beach Bum
Last year I realized how much I loved hiking and this year I also found joy, this time in sitting, parking my freckled bum right in the sand and taking in all that is relaxing and beautiful about the beach. As I scrolled through my photos of 2014 I realized I have more sunrise & sunset beach shots than what seems humanly possible. Here are some of my favorites that stood out over the last year, as my part time job became following the sun and being a self confirmed “beach slug”.
Be the most bad ass Maid of Honor
This summer my sister got married and I had the honor of standing next to her as she took a huge step forward in her life and became a wife! It was wonderful to be a part of her special day and have all of our family there to celebrate, including bringing a new member into our family.
Observe Orangutans in Borneo
I was absolute giddy over the idea of being able to watch Orangutans in their natural habitat and learn more about the conservation efforts for wildlife and the environment in Malaysian Borneo. I had the chance to go twice to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the time we spent in the afternoon two Orangutans came down from the trees and started to play on the boardwalk right in front of me. Once they realized they had the attention of the group they put on quite a show, like little models, almost posing for the camera. I think it was the only time this year I was completely speechless while witnessing wildlife.
Visiting temples, staying at a silent retreat, & exploring cathedrals, 2014 was a year of serene surroundings. I had really unique experiences that allowed me to learn more about several different religions and how they shape regions and cultures. From Buddhism to Islam, Orthodox to Catholicism, it was a humbling reminder that even though our beliefs may be varied, a higher power of some kind is an important aspect in everyone’s lives.
Pushed myself to new boundaries
I think just short of hopping on a pogo stick, I took almost every form of transport known to man in 2014 to get to each destination I researched. I flew a ridiculous number of flights, took trains, buses, minivans, rented cars, rented bikes, motorbiked, motor boated, took a ferry, even cable cars so I could travel on 4 continents and visit 7 new countries. I finally drove on the “wrong side” of the road, spent most of the year out of the United States but still got to visit 2 new states I’ve never been to, I worked on my novel, tried new foods, survived a year of solo travel and loved every crazy second! I had a laundry list of things this year that were new experiences that challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone and live a little bigger, each giving me more courage to look further ahead and continue to not only keep exploring the world around me but also have an amazing time doing it. Thanks 2014 for all the fond memories and I’m looking forward to all that 2015 has to offer!