2017 started in South America. Dodging fireworks beneath the giant church in Cusco’s Plaza de Armas, to be more specific. If you asked me what the year ahead was going to look like, I don’t think I could have told you. I didn’t know where I’d be in three days, much less, where I’d be at the same time next year. But isn’t it funny how, ready or not, next year always seems to come.
I don’t share too much about my personal life on Travel Outlandish because I don’t consider myself to be “that kind of blogger”. But, what the hell. In case you were curious, 2017 was a big one. It was a year of some significant losses. It was also the year that I trekked in Patagonia on my own, the year that I finally learned Spanish, the year that some major relationships evolved, the year that this blog took off, and the year that I moved to Berlin. I’d be lying if I said it was all painless, but it wasn’t all bad either. It was a year full of monumental, messy, hard-to-handle lessons that will [hopefully] make 2018 that much better. So, from Peru to Germany, here’s a look back at 2017 as I saw it.
What 2017 Looked like on @TravelOutlandish
About 2017 | January | Peru 🇵🇪 This time last year, I was in Cusco eating 12 grapes, wearing yellow underwear, avoiding fireworks, and trying to find a potato under the sofa. Solid #newyearseve traditions, huh? The city wasn’t as cool as I hoped it would be, but the Sacred Valley proved to be a nice place to do nothing after 3 months on the road!
About 2017 | February | Bolivia 🇧🇴 Bolivia went by in a flash. I would have liked to linger, but I had a pal to meet and a border to cross. The country gets an awful lot of credit for its salt flats, and not much credit for anything else. After a quick 3 weeks in Bolivia, my best recommendation is to stay as long as you possibly can. Climb volcanoes and explore the cities. Eat trout every way and learn to dance salsa. It’s a truly lovely country, and even if you don’t love it as much as I did, it’s hard to feel down at 12,467 ft.
About 2017 | March | Chile 🇨🇱 March was a weird one. @darlingallyson came just as life was making an irrevocable change of course. Instead of the places, I remember drinking lots of pisco and making friends with street dogs. I remember adding verses to songs we recalled from Spanish class and singing them until we’d driven everyone else around us absolutely crazy. I remember bathroom pep talks and breathless climbs to the highest parts of Valparaiso while we discussed a little bit of anything and everything. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that if you ask me about March in Chile, I’ll probably just tell you about how my best friend came to visit.
About 2017 | April | Chile 🇨🇱 Some people rearrange furniture when they need a fresh start. I decided to go on my first solo backpacking trip in one of the farthest edges of the earth. I cried in a pile of my gear the night before I left. My bag was too heavy, but it was all gear and food that I supposed I needed for 8 days of hiking. I woke up early the next morning and I went anyways. I took ten steps and then two hundred and then three thousand and then one hundred seventy thousand, six hundred and three. Sometimes, taking a step in any direction is all you can do, so you might as well walk towards the places that excite you most.
About 2017 | May | The South 🇺🇸 Seven months were up and it was time to go home (sort of). My first stop back was through the American South. Can you really call it “going home” when a place feels just as foreign as anywhere else you’ve ever been? But Alabama and North Carolina welcomed me back with a glass of sweet tea and the kind of hug that squeezes the air out of you. I stayed with one of my most loved cousins and swam in big lakes and took long drives through the Great Smoky Mountains. It was kind of funny to think about how far I had traveled to see new places, only to to realize how many fir forests and miles of asphalt I’d yet to pass through in my own country.
About 2017 | June | The West 🇺🇸 June was about revisiting. Colorado was for long chats and exploring familiar places that had lost their detail with time. I drove out to my high school, and peered into backyards of childhood homes, and wandered through my favorite outdoor places, trying to absorb what they looked like enough to bring them with me for the next stint away. San Francisco — one of the cities I love best — was for rambling conversations and tacos and hikes to places just high enough to escape the noise. But just like that, the time at home was up. London was calling (as they say) and life is just a little too short to sit still for very long.
About 2017 | July | The UK 🇬🇧 I’ve always found the magic part of travel to be the shake up. Torn from a commute and a shopping list and a neighborhood we know, we start exploring. We make real moves rather than letting our muscles carry us. We lose our scripts and start listening. We ask ourselves why we do what we do, and we do different things. But you know what? This process is at once beautiful and exciting and addictive and absolutely draining. If June was about revisiting, July was for rebooting. London was a perfect time to organize the mess. I went to ball pit bars and museums and street food parks, yet still my favorite parts were making dinner with best friends and movie nights and listening to podcasts in the bathtub. I was weeks away from moving to Berlin, and I sure as hell would have taken longer baths if I knew all the fun I was about to get into 🛀
About 2017 | August | Germany 🇩🇪 Berlin? Berlin. Yeah, ok, Berlin. I was excited to buy hangers and full sized toiletries. I wanted a corner store lady and a friend with a dog. Berlin seemed like as good of place as any to do it. I got there for the tail end of summer when people still drank beer on curbsides and sang karaoke in the park and when the sun didn’t stay away for so very long. Summer in Berlin is kind of magic so my August in Berlin was magic too. It didn’t take long to feel like a decision made with one part ‘what the hell?’ and one part ‘why the hell not?’ turned into a complete ‘hell yeah!’💥
About 2017 | September | Germany 🇩🇪Did I mention summertime in Berlin is magic? Sonntagskaraoke am Mauerpark is the best kind of karaoke. The man behind the scenes shows up every summer Sunday at 3pm with a mobile sound system. The Bearpit fills up with German cowboys, health goths, and ‘90s babysitters united only by a common love of Boney M. and Nena. When someone takes the stage to sing, they are respected. The crowd leans in to listen. They hope for the best, they fill in the gaps, and they dance along. To me, Sunday Karaoke represents what community in Berlin is all about. Be your weird self and you’re accepted. Be anything else and you’re ignored. And if you can find acceptance while you’re singing 4 Non Blondes with all your heart, I do believe that just about anything is possible.
About 2017 | October | Germany 🇩🇪 Moving to a new city will bring you a mountain of distraction. Just try to analyze anything when you’re seeking everything. Months of work went into it, but October was the month I finally got my visa. It was my first sign that this Berlin thing might actually be sticking and I couldn’t have been happier.
About 2017 | November + December | Germany 🇩🇪 I guess I really left you hanging back there in October. What can I say? I got the flu. But, it’s the last day of January, so at least I can close out last year’s story. If I learned anything in 2017, it was that life is full of more possibilities than you can even imagine. We waste so much time longing for what we had, feeling jealous about what we don’t have, and getting trapped by what we do have. We hold ourselves back from experiencing possibilities because we have a very narrow idea of what we should be doing. But you know what? Sometimes you should be doing the impractical. Maybe you’ll lose something, but maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll gain everything, and doesn’t that seem worth it to you? 🎨 by @elbochoberlin