The last few months have been indescribable. I’m trying to think of some way to sum up what the last few months have been like for me and it's turning out to be one of the hardest challenges I’ve had in a while. Harder than building up the nerve to purchase the most expensive plane ticket I’ve ever bought in order to launch myself into an adventure where I didn’t know what was going to happen and what I would be getting myself into. Harder than hauling up almost two-hundred feet of slippery, muddy, anchor chain. Harder than trying to sleep in a hot and stuffy V-berth along with hungry mosquitos. Harder than attempting to walk from sun-up to sun-down for several days in a row. Harder than trying to find a good meal or restroom when not being able to speak or even read the native language. Harder than trying to find the rest of your crewmates, in the capital of Malaysia, when nobody has cell-phones. Harder than converting currencies on the fly between last weeks country, the current country, that shop from a few hours ago, US dollars, and Euros. Harder than sanding and re-varnishing two coats on the WTP. Harder than not buying all of the cool hand-crafted items that are always for sale. Harder than eating on a minimum-budget diet. Harder than trying to stay awake on a four-hour night watch. Harder than hiking up a five kilometer mountain with a pack and at midnight. Harder than deciding to get home a different way than via the Suez Canal. Harder than keeping toes from freezing after hiking through snow powder in tennis shoes. And even harder than traveling eighteen hours on buses.
But there is one thing that has been coming to mind when thinking of the past few months. It’s a t-shirt that a vendor was selling on the street in Johor Bahru. I wish I had a picture of the shirt; it had the outline of the face of a growling wild cat and was filled with pictures of colorful birds and flowers. It was obviously a girl's shirt, so I didn’t buy it. But the text on the shirt simply said in bold, bright letters; “The World Is Just Awesome.” It's not much of a statement but it's true. People have been asking me to tell them my favorite country, or favorite place that I’ve visited but its simply an impossible question to answer. I can honestly say that every day for the past few months I’ve been surrounded by something awesome and beautiful, in one way or another. The buildings, the landscapes, the people, the animals, the customs and cultures, the skylines, the temples, the vehicles, the foods, the sports, the clothes, and even the night skies have all been awesome.
I’m sad that my adventure is coming to an end but the truth is that it is only just beginning! Soon I’ll start the next greatest adventure of my life as an entry-level environmental engineer in Richmond, Virginia. I’m looking forward to finally seeing friends and family that I’ve been missing and I’m also looking forward to staying in one place for more than a few days at a time! I think it will be strange to rejoin the “real world” and it may take a little while to get used to wearing different clothes every day, buying and preparing all of my own food again, scheduling meetings and planning for things more than a few days in advance, showering regularly, and being able to have pleasant conversations with anybody around.
Here are some of my favorite pictures (from my camera) from what little I’ve been lucky enough to see of this awesome world over the past few months: