In Search Of: Inspiration

If you’ve stopped by, you probably noticed my outdated and semi-abandoned blog. I’ve sorely neglected my little slice of cyber real estate.

Why disregard something that made me happy? I lost my inspiration and I just haven’t been able to find it.

inspire

If we could press the rewind button on life for a moment…In April, I returned from Kilimanjaro where I obtained the number one missing stamp in my passport. I was eager to share my adventures. I was so eager to share my adventures I made arrangements to do some guest writing. I wrote two excellent stories –totally biased but they were GOOD- about preparing for Kilimanjaro and what’s like to climb the highest free standing mountain in Africa. I submitted them, eager for some affirmation of the work, eager to know when they would be published and how many photos were needed to accompany the each story.

I waited. I waited some more. I followed-up. And then I waited…and waited…and honestly, I’m still waiting nine months later.

Okay, I’m not literally waiting any more. I totally gave up.

At first my ‘never accept no for answer’ mentality kicked. I looked around for other opportunities. Nothing seemed like the fit or the bloggers said they weren’t interested in guest content.

While I was looking around for other opportunities, I started to notice how much sponsored content exists in world of travel. Honestly, I think it’s everywhere. We just tend to notice things more when it’s a topic or subject we are passionate about. The one that sent me off into the deep end was a travel post about avocados. Yes, the Avocado Board of Mexico wanted you to share your favorite travel stories over recipes that include avocados.

I really try to abide by a philosophy where I respect another person’s feelings, right to earn a living and have their own views, even if I might personally disagree. And on this, I disagreed. I couldn’t see the passion, the joy, or frankly the connection to travel. That ‘take no prisoners’ mentality that was just at my fingertips suddenly slipped. Now it was an arms length away and moving further as the days passed.

Then, life happened. First, there were family health woes. Stressful, but everyone survived and is great. Then there was work. It just wasn’t materializing the way clients committed. Then, my amazing canine companion passed away. He came into my life when he was three and we had some fantastic adventures. Caring for him in his twilight years was an ongoing joy and total pain in the ass. But saying goodbye was horrible. I’m still very sad and feel ridiculous sharing with people. And, in case you were wondering, losing someone (human or animal companion) does wonders when it comes to inspiring your writing. That’s sarcasm, by the way. The hits kept coming, too, that but those stories aren’t mine to share yet. Suffice to say, I had to step up to the plate big time in a caretaker capacity.

knock
Is that you knocking, inspiration?

After months of waiting for the something… hello?…inspiration fairy?…I still have nothing. And in the interim all the little things that were just annoying are suddenly 10-foot high hurdles: I hate the design of my blog, why can’t I find a design that matches the vision in my head? How do you write about travel when you are marooned in one location? Can you be credible? How do you write when it’s your own experience, not paid content? I don’t have the answer but it’s easy to see how sometimes, the mind is a terrible thing to be alone with.

This probably begs the question: why exactly am I hear being all ‘woe is me’?

In January I swapped my annual goals for Three Words. (The idea came from Chris Brogan and you can read about it 3 Words.) Goals were still too scary and overwhelming. But three words to guide me seemed a little more my speed this year. One of my words is write.

I’m still figuring out how to make this work when I feel lackluster and uninspired. I don’t have the answer. But, if you stuck with me this long, maybe you’ll stick around to see what’s next?

 

In Search of Inspiration

I’ve been looking for inspiration lately about what my next series of travel posts should focus on. Looking for inspiration is hard. It’s like waiting for water to boil, it never happens when you really, really, really want it to. Short of being struck by lightning, i decided to stop waiting and just start writing.

I noticed that my social circle, and bloggers i enjoy reading, seem to be buzzing about South Africa and safari’s more generally. Taking a safari was one of the best experiences i have ever had. Beyond that, visiting South Africa was one of the best experiences, like top three, i have ever had. It will take me several attempts to articulate what was so epic about the experience. For now, it boils down to something a local told me: Once Africa gets in your blood, it will never leave.

The "back" of South Africa's famous Table Mountain features a smaller range called the 12 Apostles
The “back” of South Africa’s famous Table Mountain features a smaller range of peaks called the 12 Apostles

Getting to South Africa can be a drag. It’s a loooong flight. When i visited, there were not a lot of International flight options, especially if you were departing from the U.S. Today, there are significantly more routes. But what i did, and what i strongly recommend, is that you break up your flight. I booked VirginAtlanic from JFK New York to London, got off and spent the day wandering around. I’ve been to London a few times and know how to navigate the Tube. This made getting into the city easy. At the end of the day, i went back to Heathrow and 11 +/- hours later, i was in Jo’berg.

Since i spent most of my time on Safari, lodging was not a huge challenge. In Cape Town, i stayed at the Sheraton next to the convention center. The hotel had great amenities and was free to me (cashed in points). The drawback was, after dark the surrounding streets were considered unsafe. The hotel did provide free taxi or water boat services to the Waterfront area which was a great “work around.” 

The Cape Town waterfront with the stunning Table Mountain in the backgroun
The Cape Town waterfront with the stunning Table Mountain in the background

The exchange rate in South Africa is almost always favorable to tourists. You can spend a little or spend more and still enjoy yourself taking in the sites, the food and shopping. And, if you end up spending a lot on wine or furniture (believe me, it happens), ship it home via boat. It takes longer but its much more efficient. 

If you are planning a trip to SA, you can get information from South Africa’s tourism site  and Lonely Planet. For Safari information, i strongly recommend  And Beyond Africa. I promise to elaborate why in future posts. For now, check-it out. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.