San Blas, Panama
You may have seen recent posts on other blogs about a fantastic travel blogging relay led by LowCostHolidays. The always lovely Expat Kerri has passed the baton over to me; I'm now a member of the Green Team of travel bloggers, led by our captains at OverYonderlust.
The task seems simple enough at first glance: choose your top three travel memories. Once I started thinking about it, however, I quickly became overwhelmed; where to begin? Sometimes I feel as though the past six and a half years of my life have been nothing but amazing and often crazy travel memories. If you asked me this question yesterday I may have had a completely different list, but on this stormy day in Colombia, these are my three favourites.
1. Red Square, Moscow, Russia
Moscow, Russia (taken in 2010)
I was still a fairly inexperienced traveller when I decided to move to Russia for the summer of 2007, as part of a volunteer program in the city of Yaroslavl. I had long had an intense obsession with all things Russian; I dreamt of snowy Siberian landscapes, ice-cream-coloured churches, and glasses of vodka brought to red-stained lips. While in Yaroslavl, I spent a few weekends travelling through the (relatively) nearby cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and it was on one of these weekends that I first stepped into Red Square. The sun had just gone down, and the sky was a hazy pink; as I took my first steps through the gate it hit me all at once, the lights and the colour and the grandeur. The Kremlin towered to my right, GUM and the Kazan Cathedral glittered and shone to my left, and, straight ahead, like a glowing, perfect jewel, sat Saint Basil's Cathedral.
There are few moments I can remember so vividly, how my heart pumped wildly with excitement and curiosity, how my words failed to describe what I felt, how my eyes wandered everywhere, left and right and up and down. The moment spawned an even greater love for Russian culture and history, and I've since returned to spend a month on the Trans-Siberian in 2010.
2. Sailing from Panama to Colombia
San Blas, Panama
This is a very recent event, but I know with certainty that it will forever be a significant and favourite travel memory. There are two ways to get to Colombia from Panama: fly or sail. It is impossible to go by land without passing through the extremely dangerous Darien's Gap; being slightly crazy, but not THAT crazy, I opted to sail to Cartagena by way of the San Blas islands. After a few hours sailing away from the Caribbean coast of Panama, we anchored next to a tiny island in the middle of the sea, home to the incredibly generous and friendly Kuna people. We spent the next two days there; with white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, and turquoise waters, it was the beach paradise I felt I am always searching for.
We dined on fresh lobster and octopus, we snorkelled with stingrays, we paddled to sandbars and searched for the biggest and most unusual starfish. The Kuna people sold us beads and coconuts; we swam to the island clutching soggy dollar bills and half-filled bottles of rum above our heads, whiling away the afternoons like pirates. I sat and watched the sea sparkle like a thousand diamonds, and it was all I could do to keep my heart from exploding.
With ExpatKerri in San Blas, Panama
3. A Night in the Thar Desert, India
The Thar Desert, India
India, like Russia, was a country that topped my travel wishlist. I was new to the country when I joined a group of travellers for an adventure into the Thar desert, near the city of Jaisalmer. After a bumpy camel ride to see the sunset, we changed in our white tents, wrapping ourselves in blankets to keep warm. Sitting in a circle, we were fed daal, pakora, and curries of aloo and paneer. Drinking sweet lassis and finishing the meal with some dried fruit, a show began; under the endlessly starry sky, a small band of men sang and clapped and danced, accompanied by nothing but a harmonium. The music took effect, and I gave myself over to it; it remains the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. I had another month ahead of me in India, and I knew, without a doubt, that I would fall madly in love with the country. I wasn't wrong.
The Thar Desert, India
As predicted when I first started writing this post, I was flooded with more and more memories. What about scuba diving with sharks in Indonesia? I fretted. And hearing fado in Portugal, and wandering through the souks of Marrakesh? But that's what's so great about our travel memories; we can call on them whenever we want them, whenever we need them. We can be reminded of how unpredictable and amazing life on the road can be, and of why we travel at all.
I now tag my friend and fellow blogger Audrey of That Backpacker to continue the train of travel memories. It is so incredible to read about all of these great moments from the adventures of those who inspire me most, and I can't wait to read more. Go Green!