I have always loved to travel and I feel most alive when I am in a foreign country with no idea what is about to happen next. To occasionally have the opportunity to live day by day and soak up new experiences, the complete opposite of the 9-5 routine, is my idea of heaven!
When I finished University, I did the admittedly cliché gap year of going to Australia, New Zealand and Thailand along the backpacker route. Yet with hindsight, I am so pleased that I did it because the Australian work visa was readily available to do just that. Australia and New Zealand were just like a warmer UK so there was no culture shock element, and Thailand was already set up for traveling with most people able to speak basic English (“same same but different”). As a 21 year-old, it was the perfect taster which involved little planning, not a huge amount of saving but it gave me an amazing experience and many memories. Being so young, I had no fear and embraced everything on offer including bungee jumping off what was then the second highest point in the world and a tandem parachute jump, both in New Zealand. Trust me, as a thirty-something woman now, I look back at both experiences with complete horror especially as I could not recently handle a walk along the tree-tops in Kew Gardens because of my new-found vertigo! For me the best part was to live and work in Melbourne for around 8 months – it truly is the greatest way to experience what life is really like in any country, despite Australia being an “easy” option.
As anyone who travels knows, there were good times and bad times, lonely times and amazing moments of being with total strangers (some for months, but others for just a passing 24 hours here or there), stressful times (I managed to lose my Passport twice and slept in Bangkok airport one night) and once-in-a-lifetime moments such as being one of the first in the world to welcome the millennium in Sydney.
Inevitably, it had to come to an end so I came back home and went straight into working life. Travels continued but in the form of holidays around my annual leave. Seattle, New York, Ireland, Norway, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, Czech Republic, Andorra, Switzerland, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia (a return to both for two separate weddings!). Being a Londoner, I never take for granted that we have Europe on our doorstep and numerous airports to take us to pretty much anywhere in the world so I feel privileged to have visited so many places. As I watched my friends around me get married and settle down with children over the last ten years, the itch for something more began again but I have always been a little wary of traveling alone. Why is it that the older you get, the fearlessness of youth fades? Having been through a difficult 5 years in my personal life, one Saturday morning in 2013, the urge became too much so I got up and booked a last minute trip to Mexico. Two of my passions aside from travel are food and photography and I heard about a Mexican food tour run by Intrepid which felt like it had my name written all over it. I kept telling myself that even if I didn’t get on with a single person in my group, the worst that could happen would be that I would eat amazing food, take beautiful photos and come back home after 10 days off work. And it turned out to be one of the best holidays of my life! I completely fell in love with Mexico (the food, the colours, the vibrancy and unpretentious nature of the country and the people). I was incredibly lucky with my group and had the most passionate Mexican tour guide, and I am still in touch with them all.
So muchas gracias to Mexico for making me feel alive again and giving me the courage to put travel at the top of my agenda. Having completed the 10 years’ service in my company required to apply for a sabbatical, and with no serious commitments in my personal life, I have decided now is the time to get out there and see the world again. I knew I had to return to Mexico but I am also going to see Latin America starting in Chile and ending in Brazil. So with 23 Spanish lessons under my belt, in 18 days’ time, I will be setting off for another once-in-a-lifetime adventure – this time to somewhere not so easy (hence the Español lessons) but I am determined to enjoy every moment of my three months away. So this is the story of how www.medianoche.co.uk was born (meaning midnight in Spanish), essentially, a combination of my main passions in life: travel, photography, food and writing. Hopefully, this is the start of many more adventures to come.