Between the Americas, in France
As we flew out of Panama City, I looked down at the surprisingly (to me) modern city and thought about the last time I had been in an airplane. Compared to six months ago, I was much more content and not at all lonely. The cityscape below reminded me of my years in Singapore and hundreds of flights I took around South East Asia. I’ve always really loved flying. The peace and isolation from the outside world, the feeling of being in the air, the movies, the air conditioning (okay, this is new in the last year) and the excitement of arriving in a much different place from where you left.
I was excited to see friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Clo and I were doing great. I was eager to have a lot of free time in the Cote d’Azur during a very beautiful time of the year. I was also looking forward to seeing Boracay, which is a place I’d never visited while living in Singapore. Having toilets available anytime I wanted was also a big plus.
I was very excited as well, This past year (even the past 2 years) I have been going home more that in the past 5 years!! And I like it: taking a new rhythm with friends and family, seeing them more often. And at the same time, I know that is it going to be a long stretch after this without going back to France. So both falling together it makes for excited, anticipation and a great time!
In a strange way, I am also getting excited for the end of our journey on the road. This is a bit strange to say since we haven’t even done half of it yet. Actually, that’s not exactly how I should phrase it; I am getting very excited for what’s next after we finish the trip. Of course it may (in fact, I’m sure it will) change, but there are a lot of exciting things that Clo and I are planning together, as well as each of us with lists of our own things to pursue. In a funny way, it makes this part of our life even sweeter. I appreciate each moment more knowing there is going to be an eventual end (or pause?) to this type of lifestyle.
Completely agreed with Matt on this. It is very very fun to talk about the after Panamerica trip. I think we both knew this lifestyle would be for a few years only. And it might be why we enjoy it so much. I often say that we are too old to be completely changed by the journey. By this I mean that I didn't go on this trip because I hated my life, was sick of my job and wanted to do something with my life.
Nope. I love my job, I love working, and having too much crap in my apartment has never been a problem for me: I am not a minimalist at heart. But I enjoy very much this adventure with Matt. This break in our daily life. These sweet shared parenthesis.
I don't think overlanding / traveling long term is a journey into your own soul. It is for sure a shared journey that makes you learn way more about your ability to communicated with the other, than a search to find yourself. You don't have time to find yourself. Finding toilets is way more important. Priorities!
One of the most important things I’ve learned in the past two years since I quit my job is the ability to get lost in the moment. I have always been a relaxed and easy-going sort of person, but a big part of my personality is having a purpose to my actions, thinking things through and doing what I need to do to accomplish my goals. I don’t think I’ll ever lose that part of my personality, but I have been able to make that aspect focused more on long term goals instead of the now.
It's not to say that I still don’t need immediate goals. I realized that during the workaway in Costa Rica, where I greatly enjoyed having daily goals and a longer goal that I needed to work on for the duration of our project. I really need to stay active in order to be the most satisfied. Boracay was a combination of multiple things. A few months prior, the bride and groom had asked me to be the emcee for their wedding. Of course I very happily accepted, but what was actually needed from me during the event isn’t something I found out until the day before the ceremony. It was so fun!
When I met Matt he had long term plans. I had very short terms ones. I like how after a few years of learning from each other I like to imagine the future in details and I make it happen. And I like how Matt got a little bit looser, and the change of frequent short term plans doesn't bother him that much anymore!!
And in a paradoxical way I needed a long term tread during the trip, in photographic way. I really wanted to get a photography project out of this thing we are doing. I have been searching for a while when Matt made me realize that I was already doing it with my Dog's Along The Road. Which is also coming back to my roots: dogs and black and white.
This trip is a lot of thinking. I'm glad we took a break and flew for some fun times in Philippines!! What's best to relax than a friends wedding!!?
I met a lot of fun, funny and interesting people at their wedding (and the multiple days of events before and after). I really enjoy this type of social activity and I quite like getting to know new people. It was also great hanging out with Jeanne while we were there, since I haven’t been able to do so since we were living in Singapore. It’s a fun experience when your spouse’s friend becomes your friend too; Jeanne is also the friend of Clo’s whom I have known the longest.
We had the best time!! We stayed on Boracay 2 full weeks. People usually stay a few days and run to another island and want to see it all... we are not like this anymore (if we ever have been). We like to stay in one place, enjoy, relax, get to know the owner of the coffee shop next door, have our habits at the supermarket.. We need home to be anywhere, but to build the homey feeling you need a few days. That's how I see it. So we stayed 2 weeks in Boracay and it was wonderful. Seeing one of my best friend Jeanne was a blast, such joy, peace and happiness is very confronting and just great. Meaningful conversations, mango juice and a pool by the ocean. What else George?
Speaking of friends, this was a theme throughout all of our time back in France. A week after the wedding we flew back to Paris and headed straight for a friends place. We hung out for the day and spent the night, and then went to yet another friends place for another night. Besides being great to see friends, it’s always humbling the generosity and kindness that our friends show to us. It’s extremely special.
It's extremely special and extremely great how you don't see each other for months... and when you get back together it's just like if you had never left each other side. It's rare and precious. And those stops with you guys in Colombes and Saint Maur are the most resourceful and tender I could ask for. For sure Home is a feeling, not place.
Of course, it’s all relative to the time we spend with her parents. I feel like I am treated like some sort of visiting celebrity food reviewer. Their home is wonderful and comforting, I eat amazing and nutritious (mostly, except sometimes when the prosecco, red wine and cheese comes out…) meals, I go for lots of runs and enjoy working on my French (albeit quite poorly, now that I am trying to focus on Spanish) with them.
Home sweet Home. What a great family I have.
It was an awesome week. Then on to Cannes! I had some very specific goals in Cannes; wash clothes, cook lunch for Clo every day, avoid waking her up before 7:30am unless I wished to perish immediately and with great force and oh, also, enjoy the wonderful city and lots of time to myself. I ran a lot, I walked around the city, I went to the festival, I watched movies, did some red carpets, went to some parties, met Clo and friends after work for drinks sometimes and really just enjoyed being a house husband. Maybe this is my next career? It’s a pretty good one, if this month was any example.
During that time I was working and this Festival went very well: the ambiance, the weather, the team, the selection, having Matt with me cooking pasta salad for me and for the team!!! Great year!
Honestly, I missed Clo a lot. It was really nice to see her every day though, instead of normally being in another country when she’s working here. Another extremely nice and extremely unexpected surprise was when a long time friend and ex-coworker of mine messaged me. He was coming to France for a few days and would be staying a short train ride away. Did I want to hang out? Yes, I sure did! Paul, it was awesome to spend time with you and your family. I spent the whole day with him and his family; it was great to catch up and talk with someone about my ex-company for a while.
What a great surprise for Matt to see Paul. Also he is one of Matt's friend that I know the longest from Singapore. On my side I did an overdose of friendship and love. What a crazy team we are. I used to think we were friends because of Cannes; the fact to be all together there for work kept us united. But no, you guys are my friends and the people that count in my life. It's so good to see you, or just to know that you are a few meters away if I need you. I am a lucky one.
The friends, connections and relationships I’ve made in my life are the most valuable to me. I am very lucky to have such great family and friends. They are far from perfect (as am I), but they are mine and I love them.
As we return to our journey on the road, I am very interested to meet more friends, meet people who become friends and all of the people we’ll encounter in the middle. This next part of our trip will be uninterrupted for nearly a year and in a continent I have almost no experience in. So much to see, experience, learn and explore!
Looking forward to what's next for this year; and then next for the year after and then next etc etc.. !! If I am with Matt I will do anything and go anywhere.
It’s been a year of our trip so far and it sometimes feels like it’s just beginning.