Quietly asleep inside the large tent, this platoon of soldiers had yet to face any real danger out in the deserts of Kuwait. It was just a few hours before dawn when our restful quiet was shattered by the loud popping sound of gun fire. My friend lying in the cot next to mine, oblivious to her surroundings, had heard the sound and was talking in her sleep. “Mmmmmm, Popcorn.”
Pop, Pop, Pop. More gun fire.
“Wait a minute,” she said groggily. “That’s not popcorn!” she exclaimed as she bolted upright in her cot.
Instantly the tent turned into utter chaos as we tried to comprehend what was going on. I fumbled underneath my cot to find my boots. The darkness was brightened by several flashlights turning on around me. The other men and women in my tent were also scrambling to get dressed. I heard yelling from outside, “EVERYONE STAY INSIDE, GET DOWN, GET DOWN!”
I rushed to put on my flak vest, Kevlar helmet, and the vest that holds my ammunition. Since I always slept with my machine gun next to be, I grabbed it from under my sleeping bag then loaded the ammo. As I knelt inside by the tent door, I heard more yelling. With my weapon ready, I stepped out of the tent into complete darkness.
That was Kuwait in 2003. How did I get from there to writing a travel blog?
Well, I’m not in the military anymore and I really haven’t had any adventures since then. I finished my time in the army, I went to school and now I make games; video games and mobile games. I recently changed to a less-stressful and better paying job as well as moving to an apartment that cut my work commute from 2+ hours round-trip to about 15 minutes round-trip. After those changes, I was the most peaceful and stress-free I’d been in years but I’d been getting bored. Somehow the idea popped into my head, I need to take a trip. Somewhere new and far away. I’d had my eye on The Village Experience for a while and late one night I wrote myself a sticky note. “Start planning Village Experience trip”. The next day I was restless all day, which trip? What if I don’t have enough vacation time saved up at work? Is it even safe? I don’t have enough money right now. There were several trips listed. I decided on a trip to Kenya and quickly put down my deposit to reserve my spot.
The trip isn’t until March but since making that decision, I’ve been happy.
Maybe being happy is normal for some people, but not for me. Years and years go by and I’d describe my happiness level as just ok…not bad. “Happy” is what I see in photos of other people. I can’t remember the last time I could call myself happy. But now I can. It’s that feeling when I think of a trip and an experience that is within reach and I smile to myself just at the thought of knowing that it will be real.
The past few weeks I have been living in a daze, daydreaming of traveling. Envisioning where I’d like to go, places to live, what type of work I would do in another country. Somewhere in between starting to learn Swahili and buying plane tickets, I realized I want more of this. More of this feeling. I don’t want it to end. I know that a page has turned and a new chapter in my life has started. And I’m thrilled to get to share it and I hope that it might inspire someone else to chase this feeling.
Follow my blog (see lower right corner of website) and come on this journey with me!If you’d like to receive more travel tips, you can subscribe to the mailing list below or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter.