Sunday, November 6, 2011

Seemingly Fearless: A Tribute to My Travel Buddy

Vilcabamba, Ecuador

As I write this, Rie is somewhere over the South China Sea, on her way back to the U.S. to visit her daughter, move in with her boyfriend and interview for a new job. I wish she could have stayed on in Chiang Mai so we could share the final weeks of this amazing year of travel. But I understand her reasons for heading home, and 10 ½ months on the road together is pretty darn good.

In fact, it’s been a fantastic time, and it wouldn’t have been half as much fun without my big sister. So here’s a toast to Rie, who helped keep the cheers level high despite flat tires, collapsing ceilings, would-be purse snatchers, and the big hairy rat in Indira Gandhi International Airport. Together, we traveled on all-night buses, crowded colectivos and shaky taxi-brousses. We shared power outages, water outages, a plague of frogs—and several 30 Rock festivals when the challenges of travel temporarily got the better of us. 

Kuélap, Peru

Cataracta Gocta, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru

Rie turned out to be a great spotter of distinctive potato chip flavors—Tomato Mischief in India, Nori Seaweed and Hot Chilli Squid in Thailand—and of distinctive cross-cultural fashions, like the super-cool dude strutting with his posse through the gare routière in Madagascar, wearing dark glasses and an “I [heart] Ben Affleck” t-shirt.

Huayna Picchu, Peru

Mirador de Patagonia, Punta Arenas, Chile

Isla Navarino, Chile
Parc national de L'Isalo, Madagascar

I intended to get trip t-shirts made up for us featuring a phrase from an email one of her friends sent early in the trip. He’d been reading the blog and said something about how “seemingly fearless” we were. ‘If only he knew!’ we thought. By then we were all too familiar with our own and each other’s recurring anxieties, from missing planes to getting robbed to running out of toilet paper. But together we managed to get past all those fears and keep the adventure going.

Gaborone, Botswana

Agra, India

Agra, India
We discovered and got past some differences too. One of us considers yogurt and granola a perfectly acceptable supper, one of us doesn’t. One of us thinks going out to hear Thai people sing country music is a great idea, one of us doesn’t. One of us thinks that if the cab is coming at 7:30, we should be out front at 7:25, and the other one doesn’t want to put down her coffee mug until 7:29. But the spats have been few, far between and minor, and after nearly a year of hard travel, there’s no doubt that we’re still friends. 

Varanasi, India
Thanks for believing we could make this incredible journey, Rie. Thanks for making it happen and for making it so much fun. And thanks for identifying all 56,743 species of yellow flower we encountered along the way. Any time you want to do this again, I’m up for it.

I’ll make sure we have lots of T.P.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

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