Punta Mita, Mexico for some sun. Copenhagen for Christmas, New Year’s in Lisbon and a bonus trip to Malmo, Sweden to visit a mime. These are the places I traveled over the holidays, motivated by a personal challenge that in three weeks I should travel solo to three new places I’ve never been. My cycling trip to Bali had been canceled due to a volcanic eruption, my Plan B thwarted by California wildfires, so there needed to be a new adventure.
I had my doubts and as I set off, I asked myself if I really wanted to take this on. Solo travel ain’t always easy, yet the minute I got myself out the door, the adventure went beyond expectations. There were so many serendipitous twists and turns, not to mention cameo appearances from none other than singer Katy Perry, her extended family and best friend Markus Molinari, to Danish philosophers with an entourage, Dutchmen in capes and crushed red velvet suits, to the giant Mexican iguana who dive-bombed my pork tacos when I was mid-bite. (Tacos, tray, chardonnay, iguana went flying as I jumped up screaming like I was being murdered and began running, to the amusement of everyone poolside.)
On New Year’s Eve I found myself in Lisbon atop a small palace with the second highest viewpoint in the city, surrounded by new friends from Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Holland and Sweden. In Portugal, on New Year’s Eve the tradition is that as midnight approaches, everyone is given twelve raisins in anticipation of twelve new months of a new year. Twelve minutes before midnight you begin eating a raisin a minute, and with each raisin you make a wish.
It was a clear, warm night and as the clock struck twelve all of the bells in the cathedrals and churches began to chime, and with a 360-degree view of Lisbon, over river and ocean, the fireworks began to explode around us. It was exhilarating.
As the fireworks lit up the night sky, I asked Amelie, a 25-year old business student from Madrid, what her wishes were, and she said:
“We want the world to be a more peaceful place, for people to take better care of each other, we want men to care more about women, and we want women to get more comfortable with who they are.”
I enthusiastically toasted Amelie’s wishes. They are mine too. And I considered what else I might hope for, even as I felt so incredibly grateful for all that I have already, not the least of which was the pure joy of standing on that roof in that moment. I want more of this, I thought. More adventures, more new friends, more learning. And I wished for more time with the people I care for – with family, and with friends, both old and new. And I wished too, that I will be strong enough to continue to challenge myself, to keep pushing past fear, living open-heartedly, and striving to be the best version of myself. The best version of myself so that I might be a better mother, friend, writer and citizen.
May all your wishes come true. Happy 2018!