Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sweatpants Across Europa: The End

A decade ago, I applied for a work visa in Britain and used it to work and travel for several months. This is that story.  To begin at the beginning, go here. 


Far from the world of urban Europe there is a wilderness area in Minnesota called the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Many people have been to the Boundary Waters once or more in their lives for a vacation, although a vacation in the BWCA is no walk in the park. The Boundary Waters is full of mosquitoes, outdoor latrines, long portages, and strange animal sounds in the middle of the night. It is the type of place you go if you are either an outdoor junkie or you have never been there before or you cannot remember how rough it was the last time you went. 

Foreign travel can feel the same way. It attracts a few enthusiasts who enjoy every moment, but for most people it is a mix of uncomfortable adjustment and often painful discovery, to be enjoyed only when the struggles of the last trip have eased from memory.

On our return home, Karie and I both knew it would be a while before we would leave again. We had been struggling and adjusting non-stop for months on end. We needed a vacation from our vacation, or at least a return to normalcy. It was great to be back in a land full of sweatpants.

However, traveling gets in one’s blood. It is stressful, expensive, and challenging. It is also thrilling, eye-opening, and highly addictive. Despite an ever-growing family, work, bills to pay, and dark news about world events everywhere, we still manage to get out and explore every once in a while. Though I am a homebody who does not like car travel and passionately dislikes flying, I have loved every trip I have ever taken. I would not trade a single one of them for an extra few dollars or another completed home project.

Fortunately, the world is growing smaller every day. Opportunities to explore new nooks are opening as we speak. So take them. Despite what the news tells you, you are not hated. You will be safe. You will be welcomed. You will meet wonderful people and see amazing sites and your life will never be the same afterwards. If you have an open mind, a touch of fearlessness, and are willing to be the only person in the room wearing a drawstring, then a mode of transportation and some time are all that separate you from your own collection of bizarro tales. Sweatpants Across…