In every place I've been, I always have one particularly vivid memory that stays with me; it's never what I would expect; it's always a tiny surprising moment of awe and delight at being part of humanity. They're the moments that make me never regret the trip.
There was the graduation celebration at Charles Lwanga Teacher’s College in Zambia; a boy’s name was called for his diploma, his dad stood up and shouted, “That’s my boy!” with so much pride and love in his happy voice. Later that evening, as I walked back to my room, I looked up and saw the brightest stars I had ever seen and heard the echoes of a group of students singing a cappella through campus.
There was my week alone in Paris and stepping out of my Hostel door with no destination and just unintentionally stumbling across La Basilique du Sacre Coeur. It was the first beautiful cathedral in Europe I went in, and although I wouldn’t describe myself as religious, the stained glass and lit candles did feel like sacred hope.
There was my first night in Italy. I was so excited to try gelato that we walked to the nearest shop promptly upon dropping off our bags. We walked out of Aaron’s parents’ rented hilltop villa and turned a corner and saw all of Florence lit up. It was just one of those moments when I couldn’t believe I was there (needless to say, my boyfriend did in fact make fun of me for literally crying because something was so beautiful because who is that cheesy?).
There was a special night in Leavenworth, Washington – an unexpected stop on our way home from Seattle. We found a small cabin with a jacuzzi on the patio; we got in in our underwear and shared perfect solitude under the stars. It was that night when Aaron and I first dreamed of moving to South America together – a spontaneous idea that became reality within a year. We both shared a “why not?” outlook that made me so excited for our future together.
And what I love most about these moments is that I wasn’t searching for them. They weren’t on a to-do list or a bucket list. They just surprised me, and that was their magic. That's what I love about traveling; you'll be surprised if you just buy a ticket.