We have spent a good part of our vacation time on rivers. The restless water and remote places calm or minds as we follow the current. When we are away from rivers, they still filter into our thoughts and influence our views. These experiences impact the way we plan, including the big leap we are taking in a few weeks.
The thing about rivers is you can’t see very far ahead. Maps and descriptions give you an idea of what is coming. Even so, streams change with rising water levels and shifting rocks on the riverbed create new dynamics in the current. You can’t float back upstream to a perfect campsite passed by, a missed opportunity becomes unreachable. The river teaches us to stay in the moment, and to plan but respect the fact that things change. To let go of our notion of “should,” and live in what “is.”As we work toward our trip around the world, we have managed to divert the question: “where are you going?” Mostly, because our own vision of it is not clear. But, it is to the point where if we don’t lay out our trail, we may miss opportunity. Much of what we plan is based on experiences of others, and people can’t comment on experiences we should not miss if they don’t know where we are headed. Several friends have talked about catching up with us at various stops along the way. Hard to plan for, if we are just “somewhere.”
We begin with a flight to Paris, and after a very brief stop there, on to Meribel in the Three Valleys to ski. A handful of friends will be joining us there, a send off party of sorts. John and I spent a couple of weeks there in 2008, and he fell in love with the snow and terrain. The Three Valleys is vast, a combination of eight large ski resorts linked together making it the largest ski area in the world. Meribel is in the center.
Our first house is only rented until late March. Not knowing how the snow will be, we’ve left the next destination open. We may continue skiing wherever the snow takes us, or just explore for a few weeks. We plan stay in the region, within an easy day’s travel of Geneva, as we have friends coming and going.
By mid- April, we will leave the Schengen zone, to keep some time available on our visas there in the summer. First on our list is Croatia. We envision a small town on the Adriatic, large enough to have an English speaking PADI dive shop, small enough not to need a car. We’ll plant ourselves there for a couple of months, with an excursion south to see a bit of Greece.
In summer, our plans take us through Germany to see some relatives, and to on explore the Netherlands. Friends have talked about summers spent on houseboats in canals, moving slowly though hand operated locks, an experience that we’re keen to try. I’d also like to include a trip to my ancestral home in Scotland, including Ferniehurst Castle in Jedburgh, although my father’s line of Kerr left hundreds of years ago and changed their name to Carr.
Sometime in fall, we plan to make our way to Africa. Little Monkey’s only requested stop for our trip is Cape Town, to visit the Penguin colony at Boulders Beach. She’s had a longstanding passion for everything ocean, and penguins are a big player in that love. We hope to venture up to Tanzania as well, to take in a park reserve and some diving on the coast, possibly venturing over to the Seychelles.
As winter arrives, we will need to decide if we have had enough of Europe or want to explore some of Spain. Our Schengen visa period would have re-started, allowing us another three months, and we would hate to miss the opportunity.
We’ve been looking at a stop in Bhutan, although they limit visitation through cost. While this keeps them from being overrun by tourists and preserving the cultural experience for those who make the trip, it may not work in our budget.
Sometime late 2010 or early 2011, we’ll head to Thailand, and set up a home base there for a couple of months. We’d like to wander through Cambodia and Viet Nam as well. Here we will have to stick to the areas more developed for tourism, as we have no working knowledge of the language. That said, friends have said they could get by speaking French in Viet Nam, as a good part of the older population still speaks a bit.
We will end in Japan, returning to a country we have visited a couple of times and all love. Perhaps we’ll be there in time to eat more squid on a stick under cherry blossoms to celebrate spring. This return of Persephone will mark our own homecoming, were we’ll continue East to Oregon.
Our plans are a work in progress, shifting like water in a stream, following gravity and opportunity. Changing like a reflection in mercury.