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Posted by Jessica on Mar 3, 2006
One Year Later

Bangkok is twelve hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. That means that according to EST, this time last year Tim and I were rushing around like the proverbial chickens with their heads cut off.

What we were doing? We were trying to finish getting ready for our 12-month round-the-world trip.

The months leading up to our departure were at best chaotic. At times they were a nightmare. And often they were just plain comical. How do you prepare to leave your life behind for one year? How do you sell everything you own, move out of your apartments, leave your jobs, start saying goodbye to family and friends, get vaccinations, research countries, organize your finances, and keep a smile on your face at the same time?

To give you an idea of the chaos of our lives during that time period, here's a snapshot of an actual conversation Tim and I had a few weeks before our departure:

Jessica: I don't know why I feel so blah right now. I just don't feel like doing anything right now.

Tim: Well, you've had one hell of a week, lady.

Jessica: But not really.

Tim: Well, let's see. You've had major oral surgery, rabies shots, a pap smear, and a rectal exam. What more does it take?

The enormity of our “To Do” list was legendary (hell, some of it still isn’t done one year later). We were so organized, and yet in complete disarray at the same time. We actually didn’t even decide what clothes we were bringing with us on the trip until 11am on March 3rd. The first time we packed our new backpacks, ever, was at 11:30am. And the car that was taking us to the airport, where we would catch our flight to Buenos Aires, was coming at noon.

Of course the side effect of being so busy is that we never had time to really think about what we were embarking on. Sure we had fantasized about the trip for nearly two years, but in the last few weeks we almost forgot why we were doing everything we were doing. None of it felt real. And both of us kept thinking that something would stop us from going at the last minute. Not that we wanted it to…it just didn’t feel like it could possibly happen. It always felt like something would prevent us from getting on the plane.

But, thankfully, it didn’t. And so here we are, one year later on a 12-month round-the-world trip…a 12-month trip that has turned into a 16-month round-the-world trip. And we couldn’t be happier for it.

Most days it still doesn’t feel real. In some ways we feel like it was just yesterday that we left, but in other ways it feels like we’ve been traveling forever.

And we’ve forgotten it’s not normal to carry everything we own on our backs. Or to look for a new place to sleep every few days. Or to have to mime things during our daily interactions with strangers.

Or, and this is my favorite, to walk into a bathroom and have no idea how we’re supposed to do what we need to do in there (given the only things in there are a drain on the floor and a large metal salad bowl).

We’ve missed an entire year of pop culture back in the US (many would say that’s a good thing, of course). We have no idea what the movies are that are nominated at the Academy Awards. We even thought the new $50 US bill, the one with the colors on it, was counterfeit when we ran across it for the first time in Phnom Penh.

It’s going to be awfully strange to go home. And, just to make it official, that’ll be sometime in July. (We promise-promise-promise, Mom and Dad.)

At this point in our trip we’ve seen the four main things we wanted to see. We’ve explored Machu Picchu in Peru, we’ve sailed to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, we’ve floated in a hot-air balloon over Cappadocia in Turkey…and as of two weeks ago, we visited the majestic Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Combine those experiences with hundreds of other amazing days and countless magical moments, and we have created enough memories to last a lifetime.

We’ve achieved what we wanted. We’ve lived our dream. And so everything after today is just the icing on the cake.

The exciting thing, though, is that the icing is often the best part.

March 3, 2006 at 8:56am
A whole year of wonderful stories from you guys has been … well… wonderful.

Thank you.

March 3, 2006 at 9:28am
yum. icing.


March 3, 2006 at 11:12am
I'm not the bit surprised to hear the trip is extended. I was watching the 'countries not yet visited' across the screen, and noting (about mid February) that there was no way you were going to do ALL OF THAT in 2 weeks!

Be safe!

March 3, 2006 at 11:36am
I can't help but think of a song from the musical "RENT" when I read your post:

Seasons Of Love – RENT

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Moments so dear
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure – Measure A Year?
In Daylights – In Sunsets
In Midnights – In Cups Of Coffee
In Inches – In Miles
In Laughter – In Strife

March 3, 2006 at 11:59am
cant help ya with RENT…wot about some "Everybody to the limit, the cheat is to the limit
Carried away
March 3, 2006 at 11:17pm
I was just about to right "yum, icing", yes, those exact words, when I saw that Shana beat me to it.

May I also comment on how worderfully healthy, rosy cheeked tan and just plain good you both look.

March 4, 2006 at 7:24am
I always hope my worth is what I have left behind for others. About now you two are priceless.
March 5, 2006 at 6:46am
You guys were just fine heading out on the trip, though I will point out that you are not allowed to live on the third floor again! I knew you would have a great time on the trip but what you have experienced is beyond anyone’s expectations, and Janet (hi Janet) is right you guys are priceless, you have made the last year such a wonderful experience for the rest of us I cant imagine what it has been for you! Miss and Love you!
March 6, 2006 at 9:07am
Happy Anniversary! Wow, 12 months of solid adventure. You guys rock, and have accomplished more in a year than most people do in five lifetimes. I can totally relate to your pre-trip chaos – we are going through the same thing at the moment…
Enjoy the icing – it may very well be the best part!
Leigh Ann Schafer
March 10, 2006 at 10:58am
Jess, I think of you often. You better come see me when you get back home! Your pictures show you so happy and healthy! I will be looking forward to hearing your travel stories.

Love, Leigh Ann

Ali & Chris
March 12, 2006 at 11:43am
Happy 1 year! Chris and I remember when we met you two about a year ago in Buenos Aires-it's been so wonderful to be able to see the rest of your travel plans unfolding! :)
March 15, 2006 at 10:24pm
You two are doing great! I think about you often.
The unfortunate truth is that the HARDEST part is coming home. I ben there! Call me when you need to.
Uncle James

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