Seven Months After Plans

Seven months ago, I bought a one-way ticket to Cartegena and started this whole “trip around the world”. When I set out on this journey, I did not set any time limits and did not put in a major effort to form an itinerary. That being said, there were a few plans made before my vagabonding months that guided me to some of my destinations.

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5 Coffee Shops

Last year on my birthday, I wrote a post on Facebook post listing all of the locations I had visited since my previous birthday to have a coffee. I hadn’t really kept track throughout the year or necessarily attempted to reach such a significant number, but I worked out the list anyways. One thing I learned is how creepy the specificity of location tracking that Google does on your mobile devices, and the other was how clearly I could track my life through these places. Something specific (not just coffee) had brought me to each of them: the first stop on a stroll about a new city, a long overdue visit with a family member, or a particularly memorable solo camping trip. This year, I didn’t post any sort of list. Mostly because it would have given my family and friends more evidence to use against me in what I expect to be an inevitable coffee intervention. But I can tell you it is likely (read: definitely) a longer list than last year’s. Across the five countries that I’ve spent more than two weeks on this trip, here some of my coffee shop highlights in each.

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Nieu Job

Nieu-Bethesda: the small town in the Karoo that’s been my home for the longest stretch since starting this journey. Yesterday saw the end of my month-long stay. One of the most challenging parts of travel for me is leaving a favorite place again and again and again…

Regardless of what the afternoon or single-night domestic tourists have said, I feel like I could have spent years there before running out of things to do; there were always things happening at The Brewery and Two Goats Deli (where I worked in exchange for room and board) and my days off saw no shortage of hikes in the surrounding hills and canyons. Days in town were either spent at a coffee shop or book store (typical) or at the local attractions of Owl House or Kitching Fossil Centre. A few external factors threatened my perfect day in Nieu-Bethesda: poor weather, thorns and bee stings, dog puke, bar fights, larceny. But despite their (relatively infrequent) attacks I managed to live some version of the below almost every day:

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How I Got to Nieu-Bethesda Part 1

“From Connecticut? America? Yoh. So how did you end up here? In Nieu-Bethesda of all places?”

The guests of The Brewery and Two Goats Deli ask me this question on a daily basis. And since I’ve stopped giving weekly updates of where I’ve been staying since I left Hanoi, you may also be wondering how I got to this tiny town in the Eastern Cape. Here’s the first of a two part account of where I’ve been for the past two months to answer all of your questions.

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Backpacker’s Hierarchy of Needs

For the past five months, The majority of my physical life has been confined to a 46 liter space.

I’m posting this from my latest temporary home in Nieu-Bethesda and having had to unpack and repack just a few days ago, I’ve started to realize which items are starting to define my trip. By having to prioritize a limited space, the things I have chosen to carry with me have, by necessity, been fulfilling a specific hierarchy of self-need. I won’t preach extreme minimalism for all and I do think that 46 liters is a bit drastic for anyone living in a semi-permanent location. But even before I left home, I started looking around at all of the things I own and wondering, ‘does this fulfill a specific need?’ Do I own this or does this own me? I’m not prepared for the fully ascetic lifestyle but by reducing my possessions to 46 liters, I’ve created a lot of space to be me.

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