Travel can be magical, transformational, inspirational, and exceptional. But like everything in life, it's not perfect, and there is certainly a messy and ugly side of travel.
The past few days have been a blur - hence the lack of posting. After Peja, we made our way to Prishtina, then to Macedonia to visit Skopje and Ohrid, and finally Albania to explore Tirana and Berat. While we saw some amazing sites and had moments of pure bliss, it was also a bit rough at times. Within that time I had a rough night out clubbing that involved an anxiety attack and me drunkenly stumbling home alone with a dead phone, got grabbed by a random man on the street, got sick for about four days and wasn't able to keep any food down, repeatedly butted heads with one of my travel mates (that's the nice way of putting it), and the rental car me, Calvin, Mihaela, and Alfred had got a flat tire due to a nail. Welcome to the ugly side of travelling.
But there's always lessons to be learned, stories to be created, and perspective to be given.
There were moments when I asked myself "why am I doing this?" because I was so focused on the negative and everything that was going wrong that I forgot to enjoy what was in front of me. There were moments when I thought to myself "I swear if I have to see another church/mosque/fortress I'm going to scream" because every single site we visited seemed to be a repeat of somewhere else I've been. The bad was muddying the opportunity to appreciate the special in the seemingly mundane. I had to keep reminding myself that beauty, wonder, and uniqueness doesn't only exist in the "best of the best." Just because I've hiked along the Great Wall of China doesn't mean I can't find immense remarkableness in the ancient protecting walls of Dubrovnik, Kotor, or Ohrid. Finding those magical moments in the mundane are what make travel special. And that can be hard to do when the harsh reality of the bad and ugly sides of travel settle in.
Whenever things go wrong or something bad happens, I try to remind myself of that. I have the privilege of attempting this remarkable feat, and even when things are ugly and messy, the fact that I'm doing this at all is an incredible thing. Those not so great moments can became teaching moments where I learned about myself and those around me.
I've been travelling for almost a month, and despite the rough moments, overall it has been relatively smooth. I am still safe, I have been pretty good about sticking to my budget, and have done some pretty remarkable things.
Additionally, my time with the Monsoon Diaries is coming to a close, and I'm saying my goodbyes which is bittersweet. I'm going to miss these people, the community that is created with group travel, and the growth that comes with group dynamics, but I'm also ready to get back to solo travel where I am completely and totally in charge of all decisions. I learned a lot travelling with these people, and am looking forward to the next opportunity to be immersed in this kind of travel.