In order to understand the significance of this particular adventure, I’ve started with a little background story. It’s quite personal but ultimately led to this trip and where I am today.
Let’s rewind to the year 2013. I was working full-time in a leadership position at a call centre. I had been in the company for 2 years already. I had so many ideas about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go within the company and in the industry. I had a career plan. That plan came to a complete halt. To be honest, I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment I hit the wall. My mind wanders to the months between April-October 2013 – the dark days. I buried myself in work, staying back at the office almost every day, completely lost in the world of that industry. I knew nothing else. That job was my life. But I was extremely unhappy and I felt so lost. I also went to hospital for a jaw operation and had a stint of being bedridden. It was during my recovery phase that I thought a lot about what I was doing with my life and what I was going to go back to once the initial stage of recovery was over. I was investing my time in something I wasn’t passionate about anymore. I forgot what I was working for and what I was working towards. It reached a point where I was complaining about work every day. It made me severely anxious and I knew I had to make changes for the better. I started off by leaving work on time and stopped staying back unless it was absolutely necessary. I also joined an outdoor fitness organisation. That membership was one of the best investments I ever made. I was getting my mind and body back to a healthier state. But then I took it a little further. All those steps I took to improve my life didn’t change how I felt about my professional career. So after a great deal of consideration, I resigned. This is where the adventure began.
In order to gain some perspective I travelled around North, Central and South America, including the Caribbean Islands between May-July 2014. I started with my cousin and a friend and then ventured off on my own. Our first stop was Peru. It was a nine-day whirlwind of discovering the city of Lima, flying over the Nazca Lines (unfortunately due to motion sickness I was curled up in my seat with my eyes closed), wandering through the cobbled streets of Cusco, strolling around the incredible Sacred Valley and Ollyantaytambo and of course, exploring the magnificent Machu Picchu. We were constantly on the move, seeing new people and places every minute, eating copious amounts of food and drinking plenty of Inca Cola and Pisco Sour because it was all so delicious! Machu Picchu is one of the greatest places I have ever visited in my entire life. I was in absolute awe exploring the ruins and hiking up to the Sun Gate, which offered us a mind-blowing view. We also climbed Huayna Picchu. It was physically challenging but tremendously rewarding. I remember standing on the tip of that mountain, feeling completely free!
I also went on my first ever cruise. It was on the Royal Caribbean Cruise – Oasis of the Seas. It started in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and docked at Nassau in The Bahamas as well as the islands of St Thomas and St Maarten before arriving again in Fort Lauderdale. The Royal Caribbean Cruise – Oasis of the Seas is a gigantic ship with an abundance of restaurants, activities and entertainment. A running track circled the parameter of the ship so I ran around that every morning to stay active. The cast of Hairspray – The Musical were performing, which I had the privilege of attending. It was delightful! I flew over the ship with a flying fox, went indoor rock-climbing on the ship (I was actually super uncoordinated during the climb), had my hair braided in the Bahamas, chilled on the beach at each island, danced the night away at the nightclubs (it’s where I learnt the Cupid Shuffle!) and again, ate scrumptious meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The ship did not provide free WIFI but that was a blessing in disguise. It was the first time and closest thing I had to a ‘digital detox’ and disconnecting from the rest of world was exactly what I needed. I also made friends with the coolest people a girl could meet on a cruise. I was always in great company and they added to my epic experience ON A BOAT!
I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the FIFA World Cup in Brazil that year. Oh, was I in for a treat! I was super lucky to score tickets a few months prior, which led me to see England VS Uruguay in Sao Paulo. The atmosphere was unlike any sporting event I had ever attended. Visualise a sea of colours representing the competing countries, everyone chanting as one, showing their undying loyalty and support, football superstars on the bright green pitch, passionately representing their country. It was so surreal.
The match was in Sao Paulo but the party was in Rio. I love Rio! Again, luck was on our side because through friends we met a local Brazilian who gave us a personal tour of Rio. He took us to see Christ The Reedemer, Sugarloaf Mountain (from a distance), Tijuca Forest and the base of the Favela. Separately, we went to see the colourful Escadaria Selaron. When we visited Christ The Redeemer, Australian football legend Harry Kewell was there! I was embarrassingly star-struck; he probably thought I was a crazy fan girl. It was a super quick moment – I said hello, rambled on about Melbourne City FC (a soccer club from A-League, which is Australia’s soccer league) then snapped a photo. He was lovely the whole time.
So by day we were sightseeing or chilling at Ipanema beach. By night, everyone was at Copacabana Beach, where the World Cup matches were being broadcast on a massive screen. Music was playing, and food and drinks were available everywhere. The whole world came to Rio to watch football and party. Most people were seen wearing their nation’s colours; from locals to tourists (no doubt I was rocking green and gold!). I met people from all over the world when I was in Rio. I pinch myself sometimes because it almost feels like a dream. The experience was unreal. I had an absolute blast!
My dream came true when I stepped foot in the most exciting city of the world – New York City! I distinctly remember walking out of Penn Station and seeing Madison Square Garden with my own eyes. My jaw never left the ground. I spent seven days in NYC, which you can read all about in my upcoming blog post: A week in New York City!
There is actually a lot more to this trip. I also went to Havana in Cuba, Cancun in Mexico, Toronto, Niagara Falls and Montreal in Canada, and Miami, Chicago, Boston and the West Coast of USA. When I returned to Australia, I left the following status on social media:
“Before I left Australia, someone told me that travel is the best education. Quitting my job to embark on The Adventures of Angie was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life! Sure, I’m jobless and broke right now but I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen so many wonderful places, and had the absolute pleasure of meeting a lot of beautiful people from all walks of life. It wasn’t just a holiday. It was like a rebirth! I know there’s more of the world to see. But I’m always going to look back and remember this particular experience. It was unforgettable and irreplaceable.”
The Adventures of Angie playlist:
- Good Life – Inner City
- Now or Never – Kendrick Lamar Feat. Mary J Blige
- A Mile Away – Breakbot Feat. Irfane
- Closer – Goapele
- Wanderlust (Pharrell Williams remix) – The Weeknd
- On A Boat – The Lonely Island
- Cupid Shuffle – Cupid
- Show Me – Kid Ink Feat. Chris Brown
- Mrs Officer – Lil Wayne Feat. Bobby Valentino
- Love Never Felt So Good – Michael Jackson Feat. Justin Timberlake