Travels with Tavel started here (July 7, 2009) — hopeful, young, maybe hurting a little, but curious about the world, about life, about people — and full of wanderlust. The first year, it took us to the salt flats of Jujuy along the Argentina-Bolivia border, onto the back of a motorcycle in Cabarete in the Dominican Republic, all the way — unexpectedly — to Quito, Ecuador (“One Year of TwT” post). The journey continued up volcanoes, down beneath the shark-filled seas of the Galapagos Islands, through cloud forests, and eventually to the most unexpected destination of all: school.
Galapagos View. Ecuador.
After “Two Years of TwT,” I found myself the farthest away yet from the person I thought I was becoming (a constantly roaming, adventurous travel writer). A year ago, I ended up back at square one, knocking down the tower of blocks I had been stacking for one life I wanted, only to begin with the first measly block of another life I wanted, too. Building that first tower took more out of me than I ever expected. I felt like I had lived 7 lives in those first six years after graduating — seven unforgettable, sexy, awesome lives! Then, just over a year ago, I decided to stop ignoring the wanderlust I felt for my own career-goals, put the travel-lust aside, and focus on what I really wanted in my life, my long-term dreams — the kind that don’t fizzle in your mouth like Pop Rocks only to disappear after a fleeting burst of excitement.
Quiet Sea. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
So, here I am now — taking an intensive 7-week physics course at Harvard Extension School. What a wild fucking ride these last four years have been! Never a dull moment, I can say that much.
Town of Mindo, Ecuador.
I know TwT doesn’t have the travel adventures of TwT days gone by, and part of me wonders how I’ve made it this long without a dip into my old world (a last-minute trip to Belgium, a catamaran ride in Mexico, a xurro amb chocolat at 7am after a night full of dancing and new people at a Barcelona club…). But what I’ve learned is that all of that is still in me — forever. All of that is me. The experiences I’ve had, both soul-searching around the globe and from my own chair in my constantly changing bedrooms (I think I’ve moved at least once every year since college — OY), have taken me a thousand places I’ve always wanted to go. And somehow, for some reason, you have stuck with me through it all. That makes me really happy. Like, for real.
Stroll with a gaucho after a ride together in Dolores, Argentina.
The people I’ve met throughout all of these experiences, whether through commiserating in pre-med classes at NYU (shoutout to my favorite NYU postbaccs, you know who you are), randomly living together in Ecuador (shoutout to the PPP), or meeting by chance because life just happened to criss-cross our lives (many of you!), have turned every experience — both local and international — into one that has been completely and utterly worth it. (Uh-oh, I’m being cheesy again…)
Iguanas. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
TwT hasn’t been about counting countries, bragging about awesome adventures, complaining about not-so-awesome ones, and me me me. It’s about all of us sharing the unpredictable 20-something experience. It’s about where life takes us, where life has taken me (I guess), but really, it’s the story that unfolds around the “where am I” that has been the most exciting part of this “travel” adventure I’m on.
Pre-hike walk through the paramo. Papallacta, Ecuador.
The story, and the journey, continues from Somerville, MA — probably the absolute last place that I would have predicted I’d be three years ago when I wrote my first TwT post on a whim. But here I am, working my ass off (um — the rumors are true: physics is hard), surrounded by brand new friends who I think will be around for a long time, and some of the ones who preceded the TwT days by years and even decades. And here (some of) you are too — with me, three years later, along for the ride, and on your own wild adventures alongside me.
Birds in Flight. Galapagos, Ecuador.
I hope you join me in wishing TwT a happy third birthday! (It’s growing up so fast…) Thank you for 3 years, 147 posts, 750 comments, over 30,000 hits, and innumerable life-changing sometimes dangerous, usually exciting, often fun, and always valuable adventures! A special thank you to the friends and family members who have gotten me through them all.
Just for fun, feel free to let me know which has been your favorite TwT post so far. To wrap things up, here is a song by a good friend’s band, Arms and Sleepers. Cheers!