I left the U.S. on November 4, 2010 bound for South Africa… and here I am in Thailand, seven months later.
Every single day has been an adventure, particularly given the fact that I told friends and family that I would only be gone for 90 days. I went shark diving in Durban, au paired for three of the five months I was in South Africa and I experimented with baking cakes, cupcakes and any other pastry that even sounded like it might be tasty. Then I completed a TEFL course and boarded a plane to Thailand.
To be honest, I love traveling. I feel honored and privileged that I’ve had so many opportunities to explore new places, new cultures, new people. I’ve used the few Zulu and Thai phrases I know to get by when English didn’t suffice and I’ve sampled (scratch that, devoured) some of the best food out there. Even more importantly, I’ve had a great travel companion/friend/boyfriend every step of the way. He is just as eager to dive/jump/crawl as I am!
…And while I wouldn’t say that I’m homesick, I do miss my family and friends. I wish they could all fly out here and join in the fun. If I were a millionaire (in $US, ZAR or THB), I would have already paid their airfares and we would all be out on Phi Phi Island, diving and soaking up the sun. Reality reminds me that I’m a teacher in Thailand, so the chances of ever becoming a millionaire in any of those currencies is rather slim. Postcards will have to suffice for now.
And also some recognition.
-My sister, Hana: An awesome 18-year-old going into her sophomore year at UF with a 4.0 GPA and freelance experience with The Palm Beach Post. She’s the family ‘rock’ and she deserves far more than she ever gets.
-My brother, George: Turns 16 in October and loves gaming. I wish I could see more of his baseball games (he’s a great pitcher!). If he gets it together in school, I know he’ll be playing baseball or soccer in college. He’s a good kid and a very cool baby brother.
-My grandparents, Abuela and Abuelo: What would I do without them? And why did I only start speaking Spanish to my Cuban grandparents when I was 21? They’ve been there at every graduation; they’ve made various trips to UNC; they were there when I crossed the finish line at Ironman Cozumel in Mexico.
-My mom, Lourdes: Always helping me out, even now. Driving 12 hours non-stop when I think a broken heart might never heal (and it always does). She still sends me cards, no matter where I am, for every holiday (Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, etc).
-My dad, George: Hard-working and always finds a way to accomplish any task. His pride in me means the world.
-My Aunt Shirley: I wish we had started talking this much years ago. Definitely an inspiration in any/all of my baking attempts, although my work will never quite measure up to her chocolate cream cheese frosting. …Or her chocolate cheesecake espresso brownies. Mmm.
…And now I miss brownies.
But for the here and now, I am happy in Thailand. I think that missing my family allows me to love and appreciate them in a different way (without being too cliche) and I’m excited about receiving my first paycheck (T-minus 2 days!) so I can start sending gifts.
From Phuket, with love.