We’d been packing for two weeks, shoving everything we owned into an 8x10’ storage unit in Cocoa Beach. The last few days were hectic, playing gigs, judging surf contests, setting up at the local downtown Cocoa Beach Friday Fest to sell jewelry, and doing the last minute packing of many, many random misplaced items. On the last evening of packing, after a hard day in the sun, out of town, judging a surf contest, here we were, scrambling to get everything cleaned up and packed away. By sunset, I knew it wasn’t going to be possible.

Brandon had been shaping surfboards and doing ding repair in a small set-up in the back yard, and it needed a lot of work to be completely cleaned up and looking like it had never existed. I took charge of the interior of the house over the course of our packing up until that last day. There was so much left to do. Only being able to carry small loads in Brandon’s truck, it was a real trick carefully loading it as full as we could get it without doing it in a way that everything would fly right out the back. At one point while taking a load to the unit, I noticed the top of my standing jewelry chest fling open and I could just hear the dollar signs flying out the back of the truck. …pshhh. I wish.

By midnight it became apparent that we weren’t going to bed. We needed to leave to go to the airport in Orlando by 4:30 am, which meant we needed to be packed, ready, and waking up by no later than 4 am. That was only four hours away. We started grabbing everything, throwing it in whatever we could find, and eliminating trips to the storage unit by putting loads of things like furniture, artwork and miscellaneous things out by the road.

I’d been back in the states from my previous solo travels for two years, which was far too long, as far as I was concerned. But I did start a music career, find a husband and marry all in that length of time, so there were at least some highlights. Getting Brandon moving and amped to travel was a bit of a challenge, but I eventually succeeded. Being home for that length of time really takes you out of reality though.

When I first began my travels, years ago, I became enlightened by reality. It was a new reality to me, that the world was really a different place than I’d expected. It wasn’t a place in my imagination anymore. It was real, and I’d experienced enough of it to see things the way they really were; the way they should be. I discovered that life was about so much more than having everything you need to make life as convenient as possible. It was about more than working everyday for money and staying on a routine. It wasn’t about dressing to a certain standard, or even living to a certain standard. It was about experience, adventure, and being real. I became a real person, doing what instincts told me to do, not what morals or customs told me to do. I became happier, more knowledgable, more aware of the world around me, and more skeptical of the media.

As I put artwork and furniture by the empty road at 3 am, I realized that I had grown attached to my belongings, and didn’t want to see them get put to the side of the road for the garbage truck to pick up in a few hours. I loved the things I’d collected and it was hard to abandon them in that way. But I knew deep down that I only felt that way because I’d become civilized again. Being civilized is something I like to do every once in a while, but it’s not my mindset.

By sunrise we’d made it to the airport and were standing at the kiosk to check in. The kiosk denied me so the attendant came to check us in. “Where is your return flight?” “We don’t have a return flight from Nicaragua”, I said. “We’re leaving the country by bus.” “Mam, you must have a return flight from Nicaragua or you can’t fly.” Perfect. The traveling curse still hasn’t left me even after a two year break. It never fails. I always have trouble leaving, I always have trouble accessing my money, and I always get stranded in foreign countries with no money. It’s a curse. She explained to me a way that I could reserve a flight with an airline like American Airlines, and get a confirmation number to use, and if the flight isn’t paid for in 24 hours, it’s simply canceled. So I was off to search for American Airlines, which I learned was in terminal A instead of B, so I just called them and took care of it. When I arrived back with the confirmation number, everything was good, and the attendant decided not to charge the overweight fee on our bag, so we had smiles on our faces when we finally boarded the plane at 7 am. Even on the short flight from Orlando to Ft. Lauderdale, we were so exhausted we managed to get a few minutes of sleep. From Ft. Lauderdale, we flew to Managua, Nicaragua, where we’d be for the next few months to start off a string of new traveling adventures together.