Amygdala Ballet: The Life & Death of a Round The World Adventure

The first part of a two part travelogue of a solo round the world adventure packed full of travel photography over the course of a year. The arc of my journey drew parallels to the stages of a life, from birth through to the death of my wanderlust and the book leans into this metaphor throughout. Written in a diarised format, the scene is set for each chapter with a sometimes hilariously apt quote. It’s a journey in escapism and as much a lesson in how not to do it as anything else, although I genuinely believe there is something for everyone within its pages.

Part one takes me on a journey of adventure through South America ticking off the gringo trail while also deliberately forcing myself to explore the underbelly of the South American culture that I fell in love with. From carnival in Rio de Janeiro to almost drowning in Lake Titicaca, to coming so close to conquering Chachani, a 6000m mountain, my trip takes me through almost every country in the continent and often back again.

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The first phase of a long-term traveller’s mentality is unphilosophical. Being away for what seems like forever doesn’t seem real yet, so for now you just live like you’re on holiday. It’s only after about a month or so that a questioning phase begins. Holidays are defined by their brevity; a break from the norm, but what if that became the norm? It’s an odd transitional phenomenon, but a pivotal point in the traveller’s experience. Where is the apparently necessary dreariness in my life? Somehow life teaches you that it is not complete unless there is a degree of displeasure in doing something. Achievement is very important to me, but for now at least, experience seems to be a satisfactory substitute and besides there are plenty of less orthodox ways of feeling achievement while travelling.

Somewhere after the two month point you enter a new phase that can be thought of as the resolution of the search for justification and the acceptance of travelling as life, for as long as my mind can meaningfully grasp at least. When I think of what I’ve done in the last two months it seems futile to think of going home, being that I have five times what has gone left to come. I’m not saying that I don’t think of people at home because I really do and I’m not sure how well I would cope without the grounding rock of reassurance that the internet has become. All I mean is that I’ve rationalised the passage of time so I can accept this way of life as being the way things are for the considerable future and that is just fine with me. How am I ever going to go back to work? There is a school of thought that considered me lazy before I left! If I can be allowed to indulge the metaphor, I think that this year will be like the passage of a life in its own right; being thrown into the unknown, learning, experimentation, self-sufficiency, true experience, nostalgia, fighting the end.

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