We wrapped up our time in Europe with a visit to Duisburg, home of The German. His parents are super-nice, though its always a bit tough because they don’t speak English and I only know a little tourist German and he is perpetually exhausted from playing translator.
All in all it was a nice way to finish our European adventures – he got to visit his folks and collect some important mail, while I got a fix of his Mom’s excellent potato salad. Next is a stop in SF for 9 days to see all of our SF friends, eat as much Tacolicious as possible, and prep for the next phase of travel (which starts in Rwanda).
I can’t believe we’ve been on the road for 3 months already! Here are some (self-indulgent) observations about how its going:
I’m watching far less tv. I think this is mainly because I have more mental and physical energy for other things now that I’m not constantly working and commuting 3-4 hours per day. This doesn’t mean I didn’t see the full season of Game of Thrones (despite having to jump through some VPN hoops to my make HBO Now subscription work – the electronic distribution laws need a major overhaul.) And I still indulge in the odd Netflix binge when the weather is poor or I’m feeling lazy, but overall, I’m spending a lot less time watching tv.
We met fewer people than I expected… but we saw many more friends! Sure, we would chat with the odd person while we were in line for something, but we really didn’t meet very many new people. However, we saw far more friends than I expected! Between Apple colleagues, developers we met through Apple, friends who live abroad, or friends who happened to be on vacation abroad, we never went more than a couple days without seeing someone we knew. To get quality time with all these folks that I truly enjoy was really the best part of the trip so far.
I’m far less productive than I thought I’d be. All of those things I always said I’d do if I had more time? Still haven’t done them. (I haven’t even managed to make this blog look decent – sheesh!) Some of this is excusable – daily life takes a lot longer when you’re in a strange place and don’t speak the language. Things like grocery shopping can take hours instead of minutes. And I have a lot more travel planning to do on a regular basis. However, some of this lack of productivity is due to having fewer external forces committing me to things. And I’m sleeping too much. So I’m in the process of correcting this, starting with setting an alarm each day. (8 hours of sleep is plenty.) And I’m reading a lot more.
I don’t miss work but I do miss dancing. I really thought I’d miss all the activity and importance of work, or telling people that “I work for Apple”, but thankfully it seems that work doesn’t define me as much as I thought it did. It felt weird to watch the annual developer’s conference from the outside, and I still love discussing apps with people, but I am not feeling completely lost without having a job (which I was initially concerned about). What I really miss is dancing on a regular basis. It’s much harder to motivate to do Zumba on my own when I’m not prepping to teach a class. I have actually done some spontaneous bellydancing (in our AirBnB) and worked on a few new Zumba routines, but its less satisfying when I don’t have anyone to share it with. Starting with Berlin, I’ve made dance a priority and I’m going to do my best to make it happen regularly, even with language differences…
… which leads me to the next point:
I need to take more risks. The problem with my nature of constantly planning everything and having all of this technology at our disposal means we’re very comfortable – which is both good and bad. Yes, we have probably avoided some disgusting accommodation or regularly enjoyed decent meals, but it also means I’m not pushing myself to grow enough. This isn’t supposed to be a year-long relaxing vacation – I want to come away feeling like I really lived it. So I’m going to take dance classes even though I can’t understand what the instructor is saying. And I’m going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, despite my worries about altitude sickness and the fact that it involves camping. And basically I’m going to say “yes” all the time, even if I’m not sure if I’ll like something. If nothing else, I’ll have a funny story for you all.
I can’t believe people are actually reading this blog! I expected my family would (Hi Mom!), but quite frankly, I’m surprised that so many of my friends are reading it, let alone strangers! So thanks for all the encouragement – I’ll certainly do my best to keep it going.
Now we’re headed into an action-packed 9 days in SF to see all of my SF loved-ones, attend an epic wedding for two men I adore, and eat all of the things! Then we head to Africa, where it will certainly be very different…