What if... Wanderlust Strikes

Having worked in London for over six years, I'm sure many of you can relate to the moments when you sit and wonder ‘what if?’. 'What if...' I weren't so tired in the morning that I go to the gym? 'What if...' I had an extra day to potter around the house, to do all my chores without losing the weekend? 'What if...' I had the time to actually cook a meal from scratch rather than just look longingly at my Amelia Freer cookbooks. It's funny the trivial things we fantasise doing with that extra bit of freedom and time. What do you wish for? 

For me it was the wanderlust 'What if...' that came knocking most frequently. Wanderlust, or a daydream of any other kind, is likely to strike many of us during our early careers, often once we've left the comfort of the university bubble (which I mourned for a good two years post-graduation!). Exploring the world is a luxury that most of us can only sit and dream of during the daily grind! I'd always loved travel and there was one massive continent I hadn't yet explored: South America. But between a busy job, London living costs and too many countries to pick from, a two week holiday was never going to scratch that itch. Day after day the backpack at the back of my wardrobe was lurching, dustily, into view.  So, when the opportunity presented itself that Mr A and I could swap the two-week honeymoon for a five month "travel-moon", it was one that we couldn't turn down. With The Trip Itinerary sorted and The Bucket List at the ready, I was about to claim back some of that 'What If time' to get all those things done...or so I thought! Now half way through our adventure, I look back at those desk-side wishes I once daydreamed of and consider whether it has become reality...

Wish One: Get More Sleep
In my wanderlust fantasy that would mean waking up anytime from 9am onwards. The reality? I've had more 3am or 5am alarms set in the last two months than I care to remember. When the alarm isn't fired up to catch a bus, a flight or excursion to somewhere, I wake up around 7am anyway... Damn that body clock! Why doesn't that happen at home?! I'd get so much more done in the mornings! And you know when your mother warns you you're burning the candle at both ends, well, yup, that applies here too as we are constantly on the go. Stopping for any significant amount of time leaves us feeling restless that we're "wasting" wherever we are that day. And you can forget acknowledging the weekends with any kind of a relaxed pace. Life feels as on the go as it did in London, just at a complete loss for any form of routine or familiarity.

Wish Two: More Time For Exercise 
Anyone that knows me knows I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. I love the idea of it, hate actually doing it...until I've done it and then I live off the high and excuse not to go for the next week! But no, on the road, I would have oodles of time for morning jogs along the beautiful canals in Paraty/through the tree-lined streets of Buenos Aires/the boardwalk of the Copacabana, discover new types of exercise classes around the world and be a lean, mean travelling machine so the bikini body that my PT worked so hard on doesn't go to pot. It just hasn't happened (sorry Kaytee!). Either it's too hot, we're too tired or there's just not enough room in the schedule. I realise I've replaced the 'but I've got work' excuse with 'I need to make the most of [A or B]'. Bar one amazingly spiritual (and slightly awkward) yoga class in San Pedro de Atacama, several bike rides in North America and the hiking in Peru, walking has been my main exercise to date. Yet, here I am sat poolside planning how I'll incorporate exercise into my new regime once I'm back at work in January. Oh the vicious cycle continues...*guiltily downloads the app 7 minute workout*
A bike ride and hike to the moon and back (well... Moon Valley/Valle de Luna)
Wish Three: Perfectly Painted Nails
This sounds trivial, and it is, but for office workers reading this I expect your empathy here. I'm sure you will know the feeling when you look down at your keyboard bashing fingernails and wish you had enough hours in the day to give yourself a fresh coat? Day after day I would mentally add it to my to-do list and then forget about it until I caught sight of my disgraceful chipped nail varnish again (usually at a time when nail supplies or drying could not be accommodated!). Not a great look when you're in meetings or people grab your hand to inspect your engagement and/or new wedding ring. Luckily, packed in my trusty backpack is my travel manicure kit and it's the biggest luxury to sit and make them look pretty. I even made sure my pillar-box red was chip-free before the Lares Trek (sadly it wasn't by the end!). It's hardly high priority stuff but sometimes it's the little things...
With Cusco in front of me, a beautiful view whilst this Topshop Pillar Red dries...
Wish Four: Read My Bookshelf
I house an impressive chick-lit collection at home and have packed away as many as I physically can within the 23kg weight limit, whilst also having the Kindle app primed for its first bit of activity. I promised myself a Kindle once I'd read all of the books on my bookshelf...I still have about fifty to go so the app on my iPhone is a temporary measure so I still have the incentive to read them all! Now if you're a good car traveller then you will scoff at my meagre four books that I have read to date. (Note: One of those was completed in two days when doing nothing by sunbathing and reading - like a proper holiday, right?!) Despite what must be a week's worth of sitting on a bus, I just can't read for long otherwise I get carsick! In those cases, thank goodness for Spotify. However, the pace of the second half of our trip is expected to be slower with more 'R&R' on the agenda so I expect my page-turning average to increase! Thank you so far to Tracy Bloom (No-One Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday), Harriet Evans (Going Home), Ian McEwan (On Chesil Beach) and Cecelia Ahern (The Year I Met You).
Floating in Laguna Cejar - the high salt content means you can bob around in the water - a perfect spot for page-turning.
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
Wish Five: Calm Down and Drink Champagne
Most conventional honeymoons consist of two weeks in a luxury sun-drenched resort with Champagne and cocktails on tap. That is not what we're on. In over two months, the closest I've got to that was a tour of a Pisco factory and eight shots down before lunchtime and a small bottle of Cava on the train from Ollyententambo to Agua Calientes post-Lares trek. Boy did I need it then! Oh and not forgetting the lovely bottle of bubbles my new father-in-law had delivered to our room in Las Vegas, that we subsequently drove through Death Valley and drank warm out of plastic cups in Lee Vining in a wooden cabin. Oh, the luxe life. Hopefully bubble consumption will be on the increase along with trying out the local cocktails along the way. So far I've tried and tested Peru's Chilcano, Brazil's Caiprahinas and waiting with baited breath for Cuba's rum!
There's always time (and budget) for bubbles. Confeitaria Colombo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Wish Six: Bonjour Spanish
Languages are not my thing. Never have been. My sympathetic French teacher acknowledged my creative talents lay outside of hoarding vocabulary and I was elated to walk out of my GCSE French Oral exam knowing never again!!! So, yes, I'm one of those ignorant British people who has got by on other people's ability to converse in English. However, five months in mostly Spanish speaking countries is too much even for me to get by on 'Ola' and 'Gracias'. Side note: Brazil had to be difficult by speaking Portuguese, though to me this sounded like someone had heard Spanish through a wall!! So I've been on a crash-course learning Spanglish and somewhat unhelpfully discovering in the process that I have more French vocabulary actually in my brain that Madame Hood could ever have imagined! So two apps that are holding my hand are Google Translate - what a lifesaver - and Duolingo, a fun app for learning useful everyday vocabulary (though a wifi connection is required for the latter).
Luckily this sign was written in English...despite being in a cafe in Bolivia and run by a Swedish lady.

Wish Seven: Speak in Code
The rise of digital and all that, I've been rather surprised at how many of my friends and peers can read and/or write code. Given that this blog thang is my new love and ones CV is always in need of new skills, I felt it would be a vastly helpful skill to learn. I've had the Udacity app downloaded for some time and after failure to integrate into my London life, I figured travelling would be the time. Turns out I can't here either. Wifi isn't South America's strong point so between my social media addiction, the hilarious family WhatsApp group and keeping abreast of celebrity gossip, this one has fallen neglected. Must. Try. Harder. 

So the half-time report is in: I need to do more exercise, have more lie-ins and attempt to test Central America's wifi and become a coding genius. But let's be honest, what I've been up to these past two months is far richer life experience than I could ever dreamed of! So, I'll have to pass on getting the washboard abs for now and accept that I'm trading up for helicopter rides over Iguassu Falls, eating my way through Argentina's steak restaurants and taking tango classes in Buenos Aires. These are the memories that will make me smile when I'm toothless and eighty. And in truth, that's what wanderlust is all about; living for the moment and creating memories! 

What would be on your wanderlust wish list? 

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5 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much Dave, really glad you enjoyed the post.

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  2. Hi, I am stopping by after the #flbchat on Tuesday! I really love your blog and can relate to your wishlist sooo much. There is always so much that I want to achieve and there is never enough hours in the day. But I guess that is life and we have to just enjoy each moment as it comes!
    Your journey sounds amazing, looking forward to reading more about your travels!

    http://brightandboldlife.com/

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    Replies
    1. Ahh thank you so much for stopping by. So glad you can also relate to the 'what if...' dilemma! You're totally right, we just have to seize the day! Really enjoy the #flbchats so will see you there again soon :-)

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  3. I love this post, it's like it was written for me! Being a lady of leisure, travel the world with manicured nails, have lay ins, learn Spanish and enjoy the wonders of the world sounds like an absolute dream! Hooe you're enjoying living yours xx
    Jaz
    http://www.thelifeofasocialbutterfly.co.uk

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