According to TripIt, I logged over 382,000 miles to 8 countries and 21 cities in 2014. Traveling has become a way for me to unwind from a hectic work schedule and to meet and interact with people, since my social life in Johannesburg (even after a year) is non-existent. Traveling has allowed me to better understand and connect with the history, cultures, and cuisines of South Africa.
Looking back on 2014 I did some incredible things while traveling – a hot air balloon ride over the Sossusvlei desert in Namibia, flying over Victoria Falls in a helicopter, feeling the reverberations in my chest as a male lion called next to the safari vehicle, witnessing wild dogs rip apart an impala in the Okavango, attending an outdoor opera in the pouring rain in Sydney, eating memorable meals at South Africa’s top restaurants, hosting visiting friends in Johannesburg, and perhaps most memorably, an amazing 2 week long family vacation with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law in South Africa.
And, while the good experiences far outweighed the bad, I had a few moments that had me wondering whether it might have been better to just stay home. Feeling a bit sorry for myself because I was spending my birthday alone in Malaysia, I decided to treat myself to a 90 minute massage at an upscale spa in Kuala Lumpur. At the end of the massage, the masseuse asked me to sit on the edge of the table and then she proceeded to hit me with sticks. Somehow it seemed like a fitting way to spend a rather lonely birthday. Then there was the trip I should have canceled to Cape Town because of food poisoning. Instead I resolved to not to further inflame my system by putting anything in my body. Needless to say, I spent more time than I would have liked in my hotel room. There was a brief excursion to Maine where I spent nearly as many hours traveling as I did on the ground – an experience I hope not to repeat.
As I look forward to 2015, I plan on traveling just as much as I did in 2014, but I resolve to get off the beaten path more to visit lesser known cities and national parks. And, while I absolutely love going on safari, I hope to balance the over-the-top luxurious safari camps with actual camping. I resolve to travel more like a South African and less like a foreign tourist.
With a glass of Methode Cap Classique (South African sparking wine) in hand, I propose a toast to 2015 and all of the adventures it may bring you and your families. Happy New Year!