Mai-June of Patricia Robichaud
I spent the month of May in gorgeous, colourful, crazy Lisbon. From the moment I set foot in the city, I could feel the hustle and bustle, the energy of the people. The crazy mix of fantastic colours also contributed to giving the city an air of constant party. I had never been in a city where every minute, I felt the need to do something so as not to miss anything. So much to see, so much to do, so many places to go.
I wanted to explore the different neighborhoods, I wanted to try all the restaurants and experience everything. I wanted to become acquainted with the city, know my way around and feel at home. It was always go, go, go! Needless to say at some point I burnt out. It got to a point where I would get home at 10 or 11pm after a day of working and exploring and still feel like I should be going out and doing more! That’s when I started talking to myself seriously.
Traveling for one year is an awesome concept. But it also becomes your everyday reality. I have to work to make it happen. I have to take care of myself. It’s not all fun and bubbly, even though some people will try to pretend it’s fun and party 24/7. I have chosen at the beginning of the year to not waste my money on drinking and partying. I want to use my time in any city wisely and make the most of it. Being hungover and getting out of bed at 1pm are out of the question.
Lisbon was also the month when things got more expensive, due to a less favorable exchange rate for Canadians. Not a problem or care in the world for the Americans on the program whose currency is on par with the euro. I still managed to do a lot, but I might not have been as thrifty as I should have been. But then again, I don’t know when and if I will go back to Lisbon, so I made sure to enjoy it thoroughly.
When Lisbon had exhausted me completely, we moved on to the next city, Sofia, where we would spend five weeks. Ever since the beginning of the year, they had told us this would be a month to settle down, relax and unwind, because Laura, on the local team, was a yoga and wellness guru. I was looking forward to it… And I was so grateful that it turned out to be everything I had hoped for!
The first week we got there, we had the usual first week activities and the hustle of getting settled in. Grocery shopping and a visit to the green market are adventures. Nothing is “as you’d expect it to be”. You have to adjust and adapt to the local customs. In these moments, you realize that’s what the adventure really is all about!
The first weekend was my first awesome moment of the month: a yoga retreat. I had not been consistent with my yoga practice since starting Remote Year and my head was not in a good place. I was frantic, incapable of focusing. I needed calm. I needed grounding. That weekend set me back on track and gave me so much head space!
Just a few days later, it was time for the other activity I had really been looking forward to: rafting. I had never tried it and deep within myself, I felt the attraction of adventure. I loved every second of it! I would have taken more, I was not even tired when we finished! It made me realize that I needed to keep pushing my limits and get more out of my comfort zone.
As if this wasn’t enough, I wanted to do bungee jumping, so I organized a group. We ended up being a group of 12 jumpers! It was by far the craziest and scariest thing I have ever done. Standing on the bridge, outside the railing, facing emptiness and trying to reason with my brain that yes, I had to jump with nothing to hold on to… I cannot describe the feeling. My whole boding was shaking. My hand kept creeping back and reaching for the handrail. I could not bring myself to do it! It took me three tries. It felt like an eternity. Then I jumped. It was not the graceful swan dive everyone hoped for. But I jumped. I cannot explain the relief of feeling the elastic expanding under your weight and reaching its end. Such relief! I was scared to death for those 2 never-ending seconds. And then I felt relief… And pride that I had done it… And the certitude that I was not going to bungee jump again. On to other adventures!
Then there was another day of yoga, a day of hiking gorgeous mountains to see the 7 Rila Lakes, a weekend of hiking in the Pirin mountains with a very small group, an afternoon of sailing and swimming in a lake… I ended up doing so much in these five weeks! But I felt regenerated. The outdoors gave me the boost and the head space I needed so bad.
I feel extremely privileged to be living this experience. Even more so when I discuss with locals. They are always thrilled to hear about Remote Year, but their eyes open really wide when I say how much the program costs, because they simply could not afford it. Privilege. Being born in Canada is a privilege. And I intend to make the most of it.
March: Split, Croatia
April: Prague, Czech Republic
May: Lisbon, Portugal
June: Sofia, Bulgaria
July: Belgrade, Serbia
August: Valencia, Spain
September: Buenos Aires, Argentina
October: Córdoba, Argentina
November: Lima, Peru
December: Medellín, Colombia
January: Bogota, Colombia
February: Mexico City, Mexico
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