Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Three years later, and all of those silly videos we shot on our trip finally have a home! Thanks to the incredibly talented Jason Tongen for helping me surprise Reece with the Best. Wedding. Present. Ever. And also for making us look so cool. Here's to a lifetime of adventures!!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wow. We did it.

I have been putting off writing this entry for weeks. How do I summarize the events of the past year of my life? What words could possibly do justice to the incredible things I've experienced? And how do I begin to grasp that it's over?

Twelve months. Fifteen countries. SEVENTY THOUSAND kilometers. Eighty beds. Nineteen flights. Hundreds of new friends. Just the two of us.

Being home is completely surreal. In many ways, it feels like we never left. Which doesn't feel quite fair somehow. It seems like things should be different. It seems like I should be different. How is this life the same one that I left in 2009?

One of the most remarkable things I can say about this trip is how EASY it was. Embarking on this adventure, there were so many unknowns. So many fears and concerns about safety and security and stability. But the fact is, it was a piece of cake. Really. We didn't get robbed or lost or injured or sick of each other. We didn't cut the trip short or go into debt or ever for a moment question our decision.

But we did make a remarkable dream come true.

We did learn how to greet a stranger in Portuguese, order sheesha in Arabic, count in Swahili, and say thank you in Hindi.

We did get invited into strangers' homes, for lunch or a drink or a three week stay.

We did hike on a glacier.  Make that two glaciers.

We did watch the sun rise over a dozen different horizons.

We did hike to Machu Picchu, get soaked by Iguazu Falls, party at Carnival, safari in the Serengeti, ride a camel to the Pyramids, watch the sun set over the Taj Majal, and live in a camper van for two months.

We did dive with great white sharks, ride ostriches, pet tigers and eat guinea pigs.

We did walk play soccer with schoolkids in the slums.

We did celebrate Ramadan with family across the globe.

We did eat new foods and meet new people and try new things.  Every single day.

We did grow closer than we ever were before.

And we lived to tell about it.

December 2009
December 2010

Sunday, January 23, 2011


It's no walk in Retiro Park. Stress, culture shock, more stress, denial. Reece and I have had more arguments in a month of being back than we did in our entire year of travels. I can't lie. Being home has been hard. Not being able to run around freely on our own schedule. Worrying about finding work again. Dealing with the hassles of re-entry to society. It's grating on our nerves and it's testing our patience and it's making Reece really, really cranky. Yes darling, you.

Of course, I haven't been back to work yet, so I may be having a slightly easier time with things. I'm sure once I return to the land of cubicles, I'll have my very own meltdown. Till then, I'll be on my netbook watching the videos from our trip. Again.


Friday, January 21, 2011

I'd like to thank the Academy.

Ah, award show season.  A relentless reminder of all the movies, music and pop-culture references we missed out on in the past year.  Frankly, I'm not that impressed.

It's also a reminder that I have some prizes of my own that I'd like to hand out.  This blog features a lot of me me me.  It's about time we spotlight a few other folks who deserve recognition.  And the award goes to...

Kathy Shamma
"Most Involved"
My mom holds the proud title of the only person who came to visit us on our enture trip!  She flew 6,000 miles.  She made us feel totally loved.  She brough HELLA SNACKS.  She also followed my blog and emailed me throughout the journey far more than anybody else did.  Thanks, Mom, for making me feel missed!

Felicia Shamma
"Most Supportive"
She may not have been happy about me being gone.  But she was happy for me nonetheless.  She stuck up for us when others complained about our absence.  She did her best to keep everyone from worrying about us unecessarily.  And she almost never asked when the hell we were coming home.  Thanks, Sha, for having my back!

Ayman Shamma
"Most Understanding"
A lot of folks thought we were crazy for deciding to take this trip.  Most of them are in my immediate family.  My dad, on the other hand, knows a thing or two about adventure.  He moved to the US from Egypt at a young and impressionable age, and totally gets where my wanderlust comes from.  Thanks, Dad, for understanding!

Lou Valdez
"Most Interested"
My grandpa is a bit of a history buff.  In fact, he is a buff of all kinds of relevant facts and figures.  At any given time, my grandfather would probably know the geographic coordinates of our given location, and the local weather we'd likely be experiencing.  He was often up to date on current events in the area and always looked forward to asking us more about it.  Thanks, Grandpa, for making us feel important!

Theresa Valdez
"Most Enthusiastic"
I wish I could have recorded my grandma answering the phone each time we called.  I don't think she could have mustered up more excitement were I Mr. Ed McMahon himself calling to find out when the giant check could be delivered.  I can safely say I'll probably live the rest of my life without ever having anybody quite so happy to hear from me.  Thanks, Grandma, for making me feel so special!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


One of the many wonderful things about removing yourself from the routine and spending a year traveling is that you begin to see the whole world through fresh tourist eyes. Even those places you have lived in for years. Perhaps especially those places.

I have fallen in love with Venice all over again. What a beautiful, eclectic, friendly, unique, absolutely buzzing place to call home. A beer on the boardwalk that turned into three pitchers. A rip roarin' Doors cover band. A warm and stunning sunset. It's the stuff worthy of blogging about. But it's right in our backyard.

It's good to be home.