A walkabout is a rite of passage- a person will go out into the wilderness to discover his or her identity and purpose, and then return home.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Travel Background

I like to consider myself adventurous.  Someone who enjoys exploring.  A risk-taker.  A traveler.

But I've only ever truly visited about 10 states (mostly ones along the Mississippi River, with a few coastal ones thrown in for good measure).  Which leaves, like, 40 that I've never really been to.  Also, I've never seen the majority of the United States national monuments.  My sightseeing has never taken me to Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Washington D.C., Mount Rushmore, view the Redwood or Sequoia trees, etc.  You get the picture.
A blank map.  Pretty indicative of how much I know about the majority of the states.

And I should probably admit I've never been overseas.  My "countries visited" counter has a grand total of three- the US, Canada, and Mexico.  And I think my Canadian travels consisted of an illegal step over an invisible line in the very northernmost edge of Minnesota....

So why do I call myself a traveler?  Slash why am I embarking on this crazy gap year and expecting to survive?

Because of the story behind these pictures.

The above photos were taken in Mexico circa 2002, when my parents moved our family to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato for 18 months.  I was seven and a half when we left, and nine when we returned (meaning I attended half of second grade and all of third grade in Mexico).

We moved down there to partake in what my parents dubbed our "family sabbatical."  Basically, they were tired of the harried pace of life in the US, wanted an extended period of intense family bonding before the kids got too old, and were looking for an adventure.  My mom wrote a book about the experience called The Family Sabbatical Handbook; The Budget Guide to Living Abroad with Your Children.  <--- shameless plug

Though many people find this hard to believe (ahem), I did become fluent in Spanish after about 6 months into the trip.  I mean, I had to be.  Someone in our family needed to know the language, and it certainly wasn't going to be my parents (though to their credit they tried really hard), or my 2-year-old brother who had just learned English.  My family also settled into a decidedly Mexicano way of life, and became content with simply walking around, reading, people-watching, going to parks, and basically just living in the moment.

Our time spent in Mexico was amazing.  There's simply no other way to describe it.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that still affects me, and I'm so grateful I was able to experience it.  Plus, I attribute my desire for taking a year off and traveling to the sabbatical.  It imparted in me a love of exploring and experiencing new places, cultures, and languages, and fostered independence and self-confidence even at seven years old.  

So that's why I'm optimistic about my chances of survival.  If I can flourish in Mexico as a kid, I can at the very least get by traveling through Latin America and Europe (right?).  

And I'm so excited to see what this next adventure brings! 

xoxo, Cleome

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