It’s coming up to 12 months since I left the UK on my voyage to “find myself” (sick bucket anyone), but seriously… all I’ve found is loads of beautiful Instagram shots, my Spanish tongue, a van, loads of memories and a few stomach bugs here and there. But not “myself”.
Whilst people regularly tell me I’m “living the dream”, it’s sometimes hard to keep yourself focused when you’re doing something like this; when every day is the weekend, you’re no longer “living for the weekend”! As such life just becomes a string of unstructured (but fun) days of doing whatever the hell you want.
As such I’ve decided I need a bit more structure to my life and so I’ve taken inspiration from an ex-colleague of mine Sophie Airey who regularly posts monthly goals on her blog SophieCliff.com.
So here are my goals for September.
CONTINUE TO LEARN SPANISH
Obviously in this part of the world (South America) it’s not difficult to find yourself speaking Spanish on a daily basis, but more often than not these are normally very transactional conversations; “Where is…”, “Please can I have…”, “Do you have…?” etc etc. Whilst it’s not impossibly rare, you’re not always in situations where striking up a deep and meaningful is the thing to do. And to be quite honest I’ve got my “ordering a Cerveza” level of Spanish down to a tee, now I need to cement those past and future tenses that I know but still take a while to process at times when speaking (my written ability exceeds spoken at the moment).
So my first goal is to spend at least 30 minutes per day doing some Spanish practise, whether this is re-reading my notes from my five weeks in Blink Spanish School, watching some Youtube classes (I love Butterfly Spanish) or completing some exercises from the grammar book I have.
This 30 minutes per day is “bookworm” style learning, but I’ll also be continuing to try and put myself into situations where I can be having real conversations in Spanish, the exact reason why I chose to Volunteer at a hotel in Salinas, Ecuador for the past 10days – putting myself out of my comfort zone and forcing myself into situations where speaking Spanish is the only option (along with mime/dance possibly).
I love walking (and cycling) I really do, but now that I have the van it’s often too easy to think of hopping in it and zooming down the road instead of walking. But this more often than not ends up in frustration and confusion from getting lost in cities, struggling to find a place to park and ultimately I’m not getting my legs moving.
So more walking & cycling it is! I also want to do more hikes and cycle rental on my travels as I start to descend further into South America towards the Andes. I bi-passed a few hiking opportunities due to not having the correct gear in Ecuador, but no more excuses Kyle! I also benefit massively on a mental level from getting out in the fresh air and doing some exercise, and I need to remind myself of this when I’m feeling a bit lost or low.
COOK IN THE VAN MORE AND EAT MORE HEALTHY
I bought this van for various reasons, but one of them was to be able to save money through cooking for myself rather than eating out. As much as I love to try local cuisine, South American food doesn’t come close in flavour or variety as places such as Asia and so often I’m paying for a rather boring and samey meal of “rice and meat” when I could have made something just as cheaply and healthier (and often with more flavour).
And as part of this I’m going to reduce my meat consumption, not necessarily because I have idealistic views on vegetarianism, but mainly because that’s the most costly component of any meal. Also lets be honest it’s probably healthier too!
CLIMB MACHU PICCHU
I’m ready to get back on the road full steam ahead after having a week or so volunteering in Ecuador, so let’s switch on that cruise control, set the compass for Machu Picchu and take a nap whilst the van takes me there (I do know that’s not how cruise control works btw).
Whilst I’m all for travelling “without a plan” I think I’ve recently realised that I enjoy having somewhat of a plan or a bit of an aim/end goal and so I’m going to start thinking about where I want to go and start to plan a bit of a route. Also I think the “not having a plan” as an overall travel objective is great, but perhaps when you’re travelling for 18 months like me, maybe planning the next week or so ahead doesn’t hurt 😉
Hey… if something takes me by surprise and pulls me in, the route/plan can change but at least I’ll have a bit more structure to things. To be in the middle-south of Peru by the end of September doesn’t seem such a crazy goal at the moment, so I’ll aim for that!
THINK ABOUT LIFE AFTER LATIN AMERICA
This has really started coming to the fore for me in recent weeks. I feel vomit-inducingly sick sometimes at the thought of going back to a boring old desk job in the UK. But then maybe that’s what I need? Or maybe I carry on travelling. But I also am starting to miss home and would like to get back to having structure and aiming towards something more solid. Anyway, all I know is that I need to start thinking about my plan for when I hit the most southern point in South America and there’s nowhere else to go – boat share to Antarctica anyone?
So there we go, I already feel more upbeat and positive about everything having just finished writing this! See you in October!
(p.s. Any tips at all you have for me...in the comments please...I need all the help I can get!)