Tomorrow, at 2:30 PM, a flight will leave from the Cusco airport heading for Lima. Many hours later, another flight will land in L.A., coming from Peru. These connections will continue through L.A., Seattle, and finally Anchorage, Alaska. After landing, the captain of the final flight will hear a loud, high pitched scream coming from the cabin. Our family, after a year of traveling, will finally make it home to Anchorage. Before these flights, family TCR has visited Europe, China, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Thailand, New Zealand, Chili, Argentina, Ecuador, and Peru! During these times we experienced some remarkable things. Of these experiences, there were intense lows and extreme highs. There were times when I felt like breaking down and crying and times when happiness and excitement surged through my body. It was intense.
When I look back on the trip, I see all kinds of different times, experiences, and adventures. The ones I like to remember the most are the good ones. On the top of the list are, by far, my experiences diving. When I was younger, I always looked forward to age ten when I could be dive certified. I was so excited. I had the equipment, safety, hand signs, and all the details of diving, memorized. As I became older, the desire of breathing underwater shimmered and went out. Sitting on the bed with my family in Thailand considering getting certified, I said “it might be kind of cool. You know what, why not?” The first moment I submerged myself underwater everything changed. My love for diving was rekindled. As I slowly drifted down, surrounded by fish, I felt a surge of unexpected happiness. I wondered how I was kept away from this amazing world for so long. Finally on the sandy bottom, I thought “this is where I belong." Over the year, I learned to dive above coral reefs, with strong current, and over deep blue water! This remains one of the extreme highlights of my adventure and I will remember this forever.
Another unforgettable adventure was when I paraglided over the vast fields of Nepal. Originally, I was more excited for this than SCUBA diving, and I would have to say I was not disappointed. For me the coolest feeling was taking off. I stood on a grassy field above a short and abruptly steep hill with my Nepali guide, Babu, beside me. He told me that we were going to wait until seven or eight groups had flown. As they took off, I heard screams of excitement coming from the puffed up colourful wings. “OK, it is time to get ready”. Once we were both in our harnesses, he told me to start running.
I looked down the step hill and said “What??”
“Run” he replied. I took off at a steady trot and right before I was about to step off the grassy cliff, our wing filled with the surrounding air and we were lifted off the ground. I loved the feeling of the wind in my face. It was somewhat scary, but now I look at the skies differently.
Despite our amazing times this year, the trip was not a vacation. I was given no summer or weekend breaks, completed rigorous math assignments, wrote many long tiring blogs, and experienced strong draughts of home sickness. On top of that, traveling the world can be extremely difficult, confusing, and chaotic. Many things, when I look back on them, make me shiver and cringe. I would have to say that the nadir of this trip would be the stressful experiences with transportation in India. As most of you know, one of the most intense places to travel is in India and the most chaotic way to travel in India is by train.
At the time, we were traveling with a big group of American and Indian doctors and our friend Ivan. In order for my dad and the other doctors to help the sick Indians of the slums, we had to carry huge containers of expensive medicines. I remember well being split up into different, precarious rickshaws, all crammed with luggage. When we finally arrived at the train station, we had to find each other in the crowded terminal full of goats, cows, and beggars. As we got the group together, all of us had to keep twenty eyes on our luggage, especially the thousand dollar containers of medicines. Once all of us were in one place, one of our group would jump up and point to the dirty train currently waiting on the train tracks. “That’s our train!” Sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn’t. Of course, we only realized this once we were aboard. Many times we would have to jump off the train and hastily board another. Ahhh, you think, that’s bad. Oh no, no we’ve just begun!
Once we were aboard, we had to fight for our seats! This was easier when we had tickets, but it was rare to have all of our seats ticketed. The train rides were rickety, loud, cold or hot, and uncomfortable. Oh and the bathrooms...but no, that’s a different story! By the end, we felt trashed and exhausted! India was intense, chaotic, and at times unbearable. To this day, I get scared in bus or train stations, even those that are comfortable and calm. However, when I look back on this trip, the one place I remember the most is India.
This trip has been spectacular, rewarding, exciting, intense, hard, and at times scary. I have discovered my favorite sport, diving, and have had some really good times with my parents. All in all, this trip has changed me for the good, and I feel I am a different person from when I started. I am more experienced in photography, math, and writing. I also feel I have a more cosmopolitan view of the world, am more grateful for my life, and more respectful of people less fortunate than I. I have a new understanding of different religions, cultures, and lifestyles. It has simply been an amazing experience.
During this trip, I still have two more blogs to write. You will get a short report in the Lima airport tomorrow, and one blog from Alaska. The Alaska blog will be the night after I arrive, the 27th of May.
Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!