It’s been just over two months now since I hopped on a plane and said goodbye to the U.S. I can’t decide if it feels like I’ve been gone for a lifetime or just the blink of an eye, but it somehow seems like both. Time moves in a weird way when you’re traveling.
At first, the uncertainty of the whole situation made me anxious. No ticket home, and an open ended trip once I get to Asia. Where will I end up going? How long will my money last? What if I don’t meet anyone to travel with? All valid questions, and I’ve learned that they will all work themselves out. It’s best to let the answers arrive in their own time.
My first experience with this was when I was supposed to leave Crocodylus (my first workaway) with my friend, Christine. She was heading down to Cairns to work on a dive boat, and I was going to hitch hike down with her, until that is, I was offered a free ride the next day from one of the locals, instead. I had no incentive to get down to Cairns other than keeping Christine company, and part of me wasn’t ready to leave just yet. My Rational Brain said, “Stick to our organized plan!” but my Adventurous Brain said, “When will you ever get to be in the rainforest again? Stay!”
So one extra day turned into five… and the choice to stay could not have been better. One of the locals, Paddy, took me in in exchange for some work around the house and the yard. He called it WOOFing (same thing as Workaway), but I think I got the better end of the deal, getting to stay in paradise.
Paddy showed me an entirely different Daintree to the one I knew the past few weeks at Crocodylus. Now I’ve had a real taste of what life is actually like in the rainforest. We explored waterfalls, beaches, and hidden corners of the canopy, with his son, Sonny, energetically bouncing along and Tank on the lookout for pigs and the occasional cuddle. A tour guide doesn’t know the magic of a place the way a local does. I’ll never be able to explain to Paddy what an unforgettable time I’ve had, and to all of the people who have made this place so phenomenal.
Back to civilization, I did finally end up meeting with Christine in Cairns after my five day delay, but felt like I was psychically pulling myself away from this place I was magnetized to. At one point, I drunkenly rambled to Christine about how I missed being able to pee on a tree anywhere I wanted and the beauty of swimming in creeks as an alternative to showering and the inexplicable connection to nature in the Daintree that is clearly missing from concrete jungles. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to love or miss about the rainforest, but I guess you could say the simple way of life started growing on me. Except for the peeing outside part, I think drunk me was being a little dramatic about that.
I met a couple in the Daintree who camp and move around as they please, bringing their little blonde beach nugget in diapers along with them. Their advice to me when I told them how in love with the rainforest I was: “Never leave a good place.” That really resonated with me. Why leave something that makes you happy?
Surprise, surprise, I decided to go back to the rainforest again after seeing Christine in Cairns. As someone who really enjoys planning and organization, this trip has been a huge shift in comfort and also surprise for me. My original plans have been totally, completely and blissfully obliterated. What I once found anxiety-inducing is now seen as liberating. I can go wherever I want, whenever I want, with whoever I want! Change in plans? Not a problem, because the only person I really have plans with anyway is myself.
This newfound ability to float and adapt has also lead me to meeting infinite amounts of incredible people. If I meet someone who I get along really well with, like Christine, it’s easy to start traveling together or meet up somewhere. Being alone opens up a world of possibilities and also makes you more social. You are literally forced to interact with others. Meeting people is absolutely one of my favorite parts about traveling.
At this point, it’s safe to say that I don’t know where I’ll end up, or when, but I do know that it will be wherever I’m supposed to be. One of the most important things that I’ve learned on this trip so far is that there is no right or wrong way to do life. Everyone has their own journey. If you work in a corporate office or bagging groceries, live in a mansion or on a mattress under the stars in the Daintree, there’s really only one question to ask: Who cares? Because, really, if you’ve found happiness and health where you are, then that’s all that matters.
So, on that note, I’m continuing my journey to wherever it is I’m going to be. I’d say see you in x amount of months, but I’m on Daintree time now. So, see you later.