In 2016, I gave up my apartment. I gave away almost everything I owned. I put the rest in storage and reduced my life to two duffel bags.
On December 31st, I flew to Mexico City and spent my first new years away from home. Away from friends and family. Away from everything I’d ever known.
In month one, I went on a side trip to Cuba and pissed off everyone I traveled with.
In month two, I took an ill-advised road trip through Colombia and, at one point, genuinely feared for my life.
In month three, I got into a drunk screaming match with someone over a game of tejo, causing a rift in a friendship that would take months to repair.
In month four, I said something terrible to someone in anger and alienated myself from many people in my Meraki tribe.
In month five, I froze my ass off in a cabin in the Argentine Sierras.
I month six, I had to dip into my savings while trying to afford life in Buenos Aires. I paid over $800 in bribes to get a laptop out of customs.
In month seven, I had an incident at work that was so catastrophic I thought I was going to be fired.
In month eight, I suffered multiple fractures of the distal humerus–I shattered my elbow.
In month nine, I had two plates and seventeen screws surgically implanted in my arm.
In month ten, I had my heart broken.
In month eleven, I went on a weekend bender so bad I don’t remember half of it.
And in month twelve, I had to say goodbye to so many people that had become my family over the previous 11 months.
2017 was arguably the worst year of my life.
In month one, I had the most amazing meal of my life at Quintonil. I visited Cuba and got to experience its majestic beauty along with the darkness of its past. I helped make someone cry in the best way. I ate ants and crickets. I drank on a bus.
In month two, I road-tripped to Barranquilla for Carnival and dove into the sights and sounds of a Latin American festival. I got to see and experience the diverse landscape that is Colombia; mountains, jungles, deserts, and beaches. I met dozens of people from other Remote Year groups and made some lifelong friends. I got sprayed in the face with foam. I got drunk at a pool party. I drank on a bus.
In month three, I went on a jungle hike. I spent a weekend in Cartagena. I partied on a boat. I climbed over 700 steps to one of the most incredible vistas I’veever seen atop Guatape. I rode on top of a hippie van. I drank on a bus.
In month four, I hiked Machu Picchu. I surfed down a sand dune. I saw the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. I stood on a man-made island constructed of nothing but reeds. I ate more ceviche in 28 days than many people will in their entire lifetime, and it was all amazing. I saw a canyon twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. I saw condors up close. I ate guinea pig and alpaca. I drank on a bus.
In month five, I solidified a friendship that will last undoubtedly last for the rest of my life. I drank amazing wines. I hiked through the Sierras. I learned new knife skills. I was taken in by a local family for an evening. I ate empanadas. I drank on a bus.
In month six, I danced on a rooftop. I enjoyed a wine tour in Mendoza. I took a ferry to another country just for the passport stamp. I snuck into a abandoned bullfighting arena, and it was awe-inspiring. I touched snow in June. I drank on a bus.
In month seven, I drove four hours one-way just to find bratwurst for July 4th. I road tripped through Germany, Austria, and Italy. I watched the sun set over the backdrop of Prague from a hilltop beer garden. I had a love affair with Becherovka. I saw castles. I drank beer. Lots and lots of beer. I drank on a bus.
In month eight, I explored a multi-millennia-old castle. I kayaked. I danced in the rain. I jumped into a river. I finally watched game of thrones, and I stood where Khaleesi stood. I partied on another boat! I was reminded about the spirit of remote year when everyone from different groups came together to help me when I needed it most. I drank on a bus.
In month nine, I found a new surrogate family. I made all new friends. I was taken in by good people. I felt loved. I made a triumphant return to my Meraki family and I felt whole again. I drank on a bus.
In month ten, I witnessed someone I love find her happiness. I discovered the wonders of Asia. I changed my mind about a great many things. I ate durian. I made new friends. I dined in the dark. I rotated atop one of the tallest buildings in the world. I drank on a bus.
In month eleven, I saw lanterns float across the sky by the thousands. I ate all the khao soi. I ate lots of Mexican food, believe it or not. I ate many toasties. I never drank a small Chang. I partied on another boat! I took over an island (it wasn’t an island). I made more new friends. I went to a creativity workshop. I had duck for Thanksgiving dinner. I was an accomplice in stealing a golf cart. I drank on a bus.
In month twelve, I cried. I laughed. I reminisced. I walked through random doors and found amazing hole-in-the-wall bars. I ate sushi. I ate gyoza. I drank free beer. I finally went to the workspace. I helped publish a yearbook. I celebrated Christmas with fifty of the best friends anyone could ever hope to have. I played with deer. I saw cosmic Buddha. I saw Mount Fuji with my own two eyes. I rang in a new year. I drank on a bus.
2017 was undeniably the best year of my life, and I am forever grateful to everyone who shaped me, molded me, kicked me, and pushed me to make this all possible, from my parents on forward.
Countries – 17
Cities – 36
Flights taken – 36
Flights missed – 6
Buses – 12
Ferries – 2
Party Boats – 4
Rental Cars – 3
Beds – 42
I probably shouldn’t be allowed on buses.