Sunday, January 03, 2016

Goodly states and kingdoms seen

2015 was a pretty awesome year for me. I'm incredibly lucky to have been able to see a lot of the world. I visited three new countries on two new continents (both in the southern hemisphere) and embarked on two huge trekking trips. I pushed myself to do things I enjoyed but that would also challenge me, and I did them whether or not I had the easy security of friends. I've always struggled to have the courage to go my own way alone, but I think I mastered it in 2015. And it's made me stronger and more confident.

Notable "firsts" in 2015:

Had my own Sounders season tickets under my own name, instead of sub-letting from The Planning Committee.

Peru - Aside from being a new country I visited, was my first trip to South America and entailed  many other "firsts":
  • Eating alpaca (repeatedly!)
  • Being in the Southern Hemisphere, where I forgot to see if the water really does swirl down the drain counter-clockwise
  • Seeing the Southern Cross in a star-saturated sky, on a freezing night in the middle of the Andes and standing in utter awe
  • Being the primary Spanish speaker in a group, ever armed with my two travel phrase books
  • Experiencing altitude sickness, after traveling from 0 to 11,000 feet above sea level 
  • Drinking coca tea, even if I'm not entirely convinced it helped with the altitude sickness
  • Tasting local beverages chicha and chicha morada, a homemade corn beer and purple corn juice, respectively 
Tanzania - Climbing Kilimanjaro is still one of the most amazing experiences of my life. "Firsts" specifically involving this beautiful country include:
  • Communicating a little bit in Swahili
  • Being the lightest packer in a group, even if by total accident!
  • Taking Diamox and discovering its effects on me are not pleasant
  • Hiking the highest I've ever been
Kenya - Because I was there for a wedding celebration, I'm glad my experiences in a new, large city were with some of my oldest and dearest friends:
  • Going on safari, which included first-ever sightings (in the wild) of giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, lions, elephants, wildebeests, topi, zebras, gazelles, and so many other creatures
  • Seeing a predator take down its prey when a crocodile pounced on a baby zebra and we watched the whole feeding frenzy from our safari jeep
  • Eating crocodile at a touristy carnivore-themed restaurant
  • Feeding a giraffe at a sanctuary and discovering they slobber a lot
  • Haggling in markets and getting taken advantage of miserably because it's not a Western cultural practice
Two 10Ks! - I have only ever run one 10K, and my second and third attempts sadly did not beat that first record. But rather than remain an outlier in my sea of 5K runs, it seems I might be on a longer running trend!

Actually liked The Nutcracker  after years of being dragged to it by my mother. But Pacific Northwest Ballet changed up the choreography and costumes this year, and I found it as absolutely magical as my mother has always thought it is. 

"Flew" a flight simulator at a small museum in naval base town. I don't remember the type of plane (there were over 200 options) I "flew" but the program let me "fly" it around "Puget Sound" and it was one of the coolest things ever. It did remind me that I'm not the best at computer games that involve driving, but still. It was a fun thing to do on a lunch break while canvassing.

Watched a sports game with my mother, IN A BAR - Her missionary friend from New Zealand was staying with her during the Rugby World Cup, and of course we were rooting for the All Blacks. Neither of them had alcoholic beverages, but the situation was so out of the ordinary that I definitely had to imbibe.

Signed up for an online personal stylist service, because I get frustrated sometimes with having to shop for hours before finding anything vaguely fitting, and because I rarely try new colors or styles on my own. I've loved Stitch Fix with every box I've received so far, and it saves me so much time and energy! I think there's something psychologically comforting about trying on new clothes in your own home rather than in an impersonal department store dressing room.

2015 was amazing and wonderful. Here's to 2016 and its adventures!

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