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Published: October 30th 2017
I am trying to remember the last time I was ready to return from traveling and I am not having any luck. My dad jokes, if no one ever forced me to go home I would still be on that first big adventure in Egypt exactly 25 years ago.
Okay, so I like to see the world and I don't like to say goodbye. Surely there are worse crimes to commit.
Usually I don't want to say goodbye to the exotic locale, the carefree feeling of vacation, the decadent food or the intrigue of a new day out in the wide world. I don't want to say goodbye to the laid back lifestyle, the luxuries of hotel living or the constant excitement. And I certainly never want to say hello to the 9 to 5 work days, the mundane household chores and the regular stress that comes along with our daily lives.
So it wasn't exactly shocking I wasn't ready to leave Mongolia. I didn't even bother telling anyone how I felt, they could have predicted it before I even left home.
I didn't want to leave Mongolia. But this time seemed different. And I
Cheers to a Job Well Done
Photo credit: Kaila Frazer
don't know why.
Maybe it was the nature of the trip, the opportunity to make changes rather than tour museums, the brief timeline of only being gone 2 weeks, or simply something I cannot put my finger on. But I really did not want to leave Mongolia.
I really did not want to leave the people--the people of the camel training expedition, the people of the expedition team. And I certainly did not want to leave the camels!
I'm going to miss the light-hearted energy, the constant laughing, the in-depth learning, the sharp wit, the deep conversations and the romantic essence of the adventure. I will miss the inclusive nature and nuturing tone of this group of once strangers.
Not often can you throw together such a random goup, mix in a unique, if not downright bizarre, common mission and expect to produce long intellectual discussions about culture, current events, world history and absolute nonsense.
Then there is the concern about the ultimate goal. Moving OUR
camels over land for three years. My mind can't fully grasp the magnitude of the task, the environmental stresses or the logistical minefield. Maybe this
concern is what is pulling me back to Camel Camp, as if I could in anyway help the situation. I know I can't do anything to encourage success on this expedition, but maybe that makes it harder to leave.
I can't help but contemplate the immense emotional toll placed on our new friends. They will face relationship crossroads, answers to tormenting questions, emotional roadblocks and physical, along with cognitive, challenges.
They will manage power struggles, question loyalties and face loneliness all while working, living and growing together in an extreme and everchanging environment.
Their soul searching will be liberating and frightening, but necessary. Leadership styles and decisions will be challenged and emotions will spark unpalatable reactions.
I want to wrap them all in a sort of psychological bubble wrap and tell them everything will be okay. Like a parent at a school bus stop, I want to assure them they are ready for the challenges they will face and everything will be okay, but the realist doesn't make promises that might be impossible to keep.
It was hard to walk away from them, but we did. We left them there to figure it
Phot credit: Gillian Barber
out. To make it work. To pull through.
It is hard not to feel a strange sense of guilt for just leaving them there to carry on and make do. But I suppose that is what you do when you know people are capable, driven and able to succeed on their own.
My sense of security for this group is founded in the awareness that these strong, determined professionals will protect each other from the dangers that lurk on this precarious path. But most of all, I find security in the essence of the camels.
If this team can absorb the strength and serenity evident in this string of camels, they will achieve success. They will achieve personal acceptance. They will understand how to embrace their life path when the storms really hit.
If they can appreciate the emotional efficiency and calm nature of these placid beasts they will envelop the value of sustainability. And if they can embrace the way this team of 10 camels can work cohesively, they will be able to survive the many lurking roadblocks.
I assume they will notice how the camels work without ego or
grand reward. They will acknowledge how the camels only focus on the very basic needs of survival, not the overthinking we humans fall victim. They will see the methodical, stable approach of the camels in a way to minimize the acute emotional reactions that cause so much relationship static.
I can't help but cheer for this team and their wacky, extreme goal. I am rooting for the camels. I am rooting for the people. I am rooting for the chance to revisit the romantic and intriguing history of the Silk Road. And I can't ignore, I am rooting for the adventurer that lives within each one of us.
I am already planning my trip to London to see the culmination of these big dreams, life lessons and sheer survival. To cheer for their success, congratulate the accomplished adventurers and, of course to see those damn camels striding into London.
I return home with a sense of melancholy and a desire to return as quickly as I left. But it is time to return to the everyday I know, while I wish to remain connected to this team and the great adventure. Maybe this
goodbye is only temporary. I do not know.
I wish I were better at saying goodbye or more excited to return home, but I'm thankful to my parents for insisting I explore, intoducing me to adventure and providing the sense of confidence necessary to believe more awaits over the horizon. I appreciate my husband for pushing me out the door, encouraging me to enjoy my passions and never allowing me to overthink my decision.
Maybe my conventional lifestyle is simply the foundation I need to truly accept adventure for what it is: out of the ordinary, exciting and exceptional. Maybe the nuances of every day are really markers to make us truly savor the unique experiences of adventure. Maybe this launching pad provides the security needed to make foreign experiences so carefree.
I guess I don't know, but maybe it will someday make me better at saying good bye. Photo Credit Disclaimer:
It has been so wonderful sharing photos with this group of cameleers! And by "sharing" I really just mean me taking and not exactly contributing. I am not sure if all of these captured moments have made saying goodbye to
Photo credit: Gillian Barber
this adventure easier or mightily more difficult! I find myself looking at them over and over with fondness. Thank you Gillian Barber
, Kaila Frazer
and Tara Lea
...I did most of my stealing from your great collections. Please don't hate me for not getting each photo credit paired with the proper photographer. I am sure it was just lost in translation.
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