In previous years I have thought long and hard about what I could give up for Lent that might help me better myself in some way. I have come up with some truly bizarre ideas such as giving up procrastination, giving up the use of non-words (such as erm, err and ‘like’) and giving up being late for things.
I now know that it’s nearly impossible for me to give any of that up. A few years ago my sister once said to me, “Sarah, you are an ideas person; you are not a completer-finisher!” Liz is spot on. Therefore this year I plan to give up giving up and aggressively pursue some of my personal goals.
One of these goals is that I aim to be paid only by doing things that I truly enjoy. Obviously a big hobby of mine is travel – last week I completed my first On Board Courier mission to New York and I’m on standby for more. In the meantime I am working part time with a florist (I am learning loads already!) and I am propagating my own plants at home with a view to designing and creating some living art. I’m still running my little jewellery business (Darby London for anyone interested) however im currently in limbo what with waiting for my new online shop – very exciting!) My other official current income is via agencies for promotions and tv extra type roles.
So across all my very flexible jobs, I somehow seem to be winging it quite well, without being too tied down to anything (a desk in particular) and my fear of commitment is not being tested too greatly which is perfect for me right now. No two days are the same and I am currently really happy and excited for the endless possibilities that could come.
I know a lot of people who could not live the way I do, and there are days when things seem so tough, but the highs most certainly do justify the lows. This year I aim to make sure that The Darby Diaries will be mostly full of highs.
I would love to hear about anyone else’s ideas on Lent and whether you have decided to give anything up… or not?!
Of course I have some fantastic shots of my short time in snowy Sofia and Manhattan. And I plan to reveal these later in the week! Although your current treat is in the header shot of Sofia’s modest and wonderful ‘Mount Vitosha’, which was my fun way of linking up my travels to the story that follows beneath.
But for now I want to share something that bothered me greatly while I was away and at the same time I feel like reaching out to anyone who has spent as much money and as many days of their life trying to paint a skin coloured balaclava on their face as I have.
When I was a little girl I quickly learned that going through Mum’s girly things while she was downstairs in the kitchen was one of the most exciting things I could do with my day. Everything looked super shiny and smelled like princesses and unicorns. One day I came across this boring-looking grey pot. I found this one pretty hard to open by myself so I caved and went down to ask her what it was. She didn’t even bother asking me how I found it (Mums already know everything) and she told me it was to put on boils and spots to make them better. I asked her what she meant and she pointed to a cut on her face. Ouch.
Until I reached 18 I had not a single zit on my face. I had escaped the curse. Until one day around this time, I suddenly grew a painful and unwanted second head right in the middle of my forehead. It was pretty much right between the eyebrows and the size of a crouton and I popped it and it went all over the mirror. I didn’t go out for a week.
Luckily I didn’t suffer too much more until I turned 24 and out of nowhere developed a rash on my chin, which seemed to be getting worse and spreading up my jawline. When the doctor told me it was acne, I was pretty shocked. I was prescribed some Clyndamycin solution and it went away. A year later it came back (I had grown resistant to the lotion) and I was upgraded to antibiotics. I took these for a further four years until my stomach could no longer handle them. After this point it was a case of putting up with the problem. I must say, however, that in recent years I have often been told that I look much younger than my age. I attribute my youthful looks to my teenage skin. Every cloud… Funnily enough since I went all hardcore on travelling, the general problem seems to have significantly improved. My inner happiness did wonders for my health.
However during my trip to the Big Apple, my past came back to haunt me. This was a hard, bruising, under the skin devil which I shall name Treasure Island. You may find this name strange but a girl has simply got to believe that even their worst enemy can be a great source of richness, an inner power, a teaching, a test, a challenge. The things that make us fight back and kick arse are the very things that show the world what we are made of. OK so a couple of spots is no big deal but I’m just trying to do one of those cliché metaphors that everyone loves….
The 32 year old teenager in me picked away furiously and inevitably created a war zone, which was very hard to conceal that morning as the centre of the eruption was oozing it’s lava causing concealer to slide off to the sides, only accentuating my problem.
Now – that little grey pot that I found in Mums cupboard was the magic itself, Sudocrem. Thankyou Mother, for the gift of problem and solution. When we used to live together at Firbank (I have lots of great stories yet to come on that magical household), my good friend Sophie and I would sit in the living room for hours in the evenings with white faces. We were porcelain Goddesses. This is a completely normal thing for any girl to do every week, so get involved. This was usually our first port of call during a crisis. Unfortunately being on my travels last week and packing so light, I had no such remedy, or friend, to hand. So I had to ride this one out. I sent a selfie to my good friend Emma, who has also suffered a similar battle. She had no solution and only empathy to offer at this time, which was all that I could have asked for. I was in New York in Mid Town, alone, and needed confidence. Well that was pretty much what happened in the end, I grew a pair and wrapped a scarf round my face. It was snowing anyway.
I’ll now get to the bit you’re all waiting for, and so for one time only, I present to you Treasure Island. Please can I just mention that this photo does in NO WAY do Treasure Island any justice at all…
Happy Monday Y’all.
It always makes me smile when the plane glides back onto tarmac and everyone starts clapping the pilot for not killing us all!
And almost everybody here talks to me in Bulgarian, which further encourages me to fantasise about my mysterious heritage. Me, my mum, her mum, and her mum, were all slightly darker featured! I’ve felt like I blended in to quite a few European countries in the past though. If only I did actually know the language here…
Name: Maxime Kaci
Time on road: 3 years
Funds: saving, work abroad & busking
What initially inspired you to travel?
I think it all started when I was about eleven years old. My Dad came home from a two month backpacking trip in Southeast Asia with a scary beard and a backpack full of exotic presents. I couldn’t help but be intrigued and amazed by his adventures.
So he promised me on that day if I did well at school and learned English, he would take me with him. Five years later I graduated from high school and he took me to El Salvador for a two week surfing trip where he taught me all his travel tricks, and gave me the travel bug.
What kind of tricks did your Dad teach you?
Simple stuff like taking super care of your passport, and how important it is to have all your money stashed in different places. Put some in your jean pocket in your bag, some in your pharmacy bag, some on you, some in a shoe… just in case something happens, you will always have a bit of cash on you.
But the most important lesson was to smile and say hello to people; to be social and polite.
Oh! And how to negotiate for prices (haggle, no?!).
But the other tricks I won’t reveal… for they are my family secrets!
How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?
I think at first I left to get away; to get away from all those questions that usually worries young people. “What will I do for work?”… “Should I study more?”… “How am I gonna be happy working every day?”
So I left in search of adventure, fun, friendship and excitement.
But after years of travelling and learning from new experiences I could definitely feel a shift in inspiration. I felt like I learned what I had to learn from traveling and socialising, and that it was time to travel with a different purpose. So now I am travelling with the idea of reaching financial freedom.
I feel that with financial freedom, I will be able to travel anywhere, live anywhere, learn anything without having to worry about income.
What has been your most memorable experience whilst travelling abroad?
I kinda travel with the cheap flights, so when I realised I could fly to Europe much cheaper if I arrived in Norway, I decided that the best way to get back to the south of France (home), was to do a Euro trip from Oslo to Marseille, and hitch hike a big part of the way.
Hitch hiking really is a great way to travel. It’s exciting, a bit scary, but the people who usually pick you up turn out to be kind and loving people! Even the scary looking ones! Three years ago a guy in Turkey picked up me and my friend Ryan in his car. He was a big guy with a mean face, and a soldier tattooed on his arm!
When he ask us in bad English if we wanted to stay at a place with him, we didn’t feel so comfortable… but said yes! Eventually he brought us to his apartment where his entire family was waiting. Babies… grandparents… the neighbour even joined us later, and they welcomed us like Kings… fed us until we nearly exploded. He gave us comfortable places to sleep, a great breakfast, and he even dropped us to the next town!
That would have never happened if we had travelled in a coach filled with other tourists.
What has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?
I think the most difficult part about travelling, is leaving people behind.
First you have to leave your family and friends at home. Then you create a new family and new friends on the road, and you will have to leave them as well. And there’s that weird feeling of leaving multiple homes behind. Buddhists believe that attachment is one of the biggest sources of suffering. Fortunately you get used to it, and I think it becomes a strength.
You basically become really good at saying goodbye.
Where are you right now?
Today I just got home after another year on the road. I live in Hyeres, a small medieval town in the south of France. Its awesome being from a cool place, that you’re happy to come back to! And being back with family and friends is always a pleasure!
This past year I had decided to do a working holiday in New Zealand. The aim was to travel only using the money from playing guitar in the street. I spent 6 months there and it was incredible. The people are so nice. They will invite you into their house! I hitch hiked all around, and it’s never boring, so many incredible sceneries! You do feel like a hobbit there! (It really is a paradise for people who like to walk barefoot…)
I left in the summer, and headed for Bali for a month of surfing, and a family trip! It’s so nice seeing your family after six months, and to be able to travel together!
What survival advice would you give to be travelers in this place?
One good piece of advice to travel easily in France, is to try to make a small effort to speak the language. Just learning how to say hello, how are you, my name is, etc…
The French people are very proud of their language and will appreciate a foreigner trying to speak it. This applies to many other countries.
And even if the cheese smells really bad, just try it. You can always rinse it with wine…
If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be, and why?
For any new travelers who want a culture change, adventures, and fun for a first travel, I suggest Thailand.
Thailand is a great country, easy to travel in, easy to meet new people (local and fellow traveler), beautiful, and full of surprises.
I know it’s becoming a backpacker Disneyland, but I think it is a great introduction country for solo traveler. Plus if you enjoy yourself, from Thailand you can easily get into many other countries.
Where are you planning to visit next?
Next I’m going to California. I will be reunited with my friend and associate, Ryan. Together we will try to mix travel and business with the promotion of a new product which you can find at http://www.coloredison.com – the first completely wirelessly controlled 12V RGBW outdoor lighting system.
We will be traveling in a 1974 Volkswagen van, surfing the coast and using the lights in fun and creative ways.
Do you have any blogs, websites or any other form of social media you would like The Darby Diaries to share with our readers?
Ryan and I started a YouTube channel at the beginning of our travels where we try to inspire and entertain with our crazy shenanigans !
You can also find us on Instagram :
Name: Amanda Mason
Time on the Road (this trip or general outline): 1 year, currently 3 months into this trip
Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed): Have been saving for a few years
What initially inspired you to travel?
I got the ‘travellers bug’ at 19 years old when I first took off on my own and travelled around the USA! Once you have had the opportunity to see more of the world it becomes almost an obsession to see it all! I’ve since been travelling many times around various countries. Any time I can visit somewhere new I do! After recently being made redundant at work I grabbed the opportunity with both hands to get away again. I had been working very hard over the last few years, sacrificing various travel opportunities and I had very much ‘missed the open road’ as they say!
How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?
At the moment they haven’t really, I still want to see everything! I plan to visit every country possible, and then I really can say I’ve been around the world!
What has been your most memorable experience abroad?
Climbing to base camp of Mount Everest! Reaching 5380M was a shattering, body exhausting experience, but totally worth it. The views you can see as you climb through the Himalayas really are indescribably beautiful! Pictures do not do them justice.
What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?
I would also have to say the Everest base camp trek, as I was in the Himalayas during the earthquake. I saw so much destruction and devastation, it really does give you a whole new perspective on your own life and how lucky I really am! I felt and saw some heartbreaking sites. Unfortunately it’s not the sort of experience that I could even begin to put into words.
Where are you right now?
Currently at Don Det – part of the 4000 islands, Laos
Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this place?
The currency is very hard to convert mentally! Get the free currency converter app on your phone, it really helps and you don’t need wifi to use it.
If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?
India (West Coast – Goa and Kerala)
Let’s talk a bit about travelling solo in India as a female…
I travelled alone mostly in India, and it was amazing. It helps to have some basic self-defence knowledge as I took Krav Maga lessons before heading off on this journey. This gave me a bit more confidence in taking care of myself so I would definitely recommend taking a course if you are planning to travel alone! I found that in India it felt like being a minor celebrity; I got a lots of stares and many people wanted their photo taken with me, but if you can deal with that you’ll be okay!
It really is very beautiful in so many places in India, and it’s great if you are travelling on budget as it’s so cheap for accommodation and food!
Where do you plan to visit next?
Laos, Burma and Thailand will be the next few months of travel.
Thank you very much for your time Amanda and enjoy the rest of your adventures!
The Darby Diaries