9 things I did for the first time in 2015

Hurray, lists! Since the end of a year is also the time to look back upon the days and months and weeks before the new one, I’m looking back onto all the things I did for the first time this year. – Not the first time this year, but the things I did the first time ever which happens to be in this year. You get my point. – Because life is taking steps forward and all that. Leaping into the unknown and experiencing adrenaline rushes and being adventurous. And I like lists.

1. I quit my job to go traveling.

One of my best decisions ever. Yes, I’m unemployed now and no, I don’t get any money from the government so far. Yes, I don’t have a lot of money right now and yes, I had to move back to my parents’ place. But I don’t regret quitting a job to do something I’ve been dreaming of for years. And to be honest, the experience was worth every euro I spent. – Or every dollar I spent too much on a taxi, even when I haggled down the price. Asshole giving me not enough change back, and I couldn’t prove it wasn’t enough. Still pissed off for that. – 

First camping spot in Sweden. Pretty idyllic.

2. I went camping with a stranger in Sweden.

Well, people I just met or I don’t know very well are considered strangers to me. So when I met J. through couchsurfing and he offered me a 5-day trip to Sweden, with tent and car included, I hesitated. Because of the timing, because of the money. – Which money? I needed food back at home anyway and Ryanair makes flying incredibly cheap – But when that voice in my head couldn’t stop yelling ‘I wanna go to Sweden, I wanna go to Sweden, I wanna go to Sweden, I wanna go to Sweden,…’, the whole fucking night after the offer, I knew what to do. Book that return ticket and go. Again, I don’t regret anything, that trip was awesome. – Though a little bit too cold for my liking. – You can read about my trip to Sweden here and about J.’s trip and more right here. Because life is one big adventure, no?

3. I started a blog.

I shit you not. What else have you been reading the whole time?

Market in San Juan Chamula, Mexico.

4. I went on a 5-month solo trip through the Americas.

South-America is still on the bucket list, but so far I can say I’ve been to North and Central-America. On my own. For five months. I kind of knew it wouldn’t be a problem for me. Ever since I was a kid, I loved going on trips. And I was always the one that wasn’t homesick and didn’t want to go home. Not that I don’t have a good home, it’s more that I love being away. Discover new places, see new things, experience new thrills and eat different foods. Explore, breathe, live. Exactly what I did those past five months. Had the time of my life. Or, as one of my travel friends described it in a message, five months of the best time ever.

5. I ate real Mexican food. 

Europe has great food. Belgium has even better food. But oh boy, did I enjoy eating in Mexico… I don’t know if you know, but you can find food from all over the world in Belgium. Except decent Mexican food. – If you don’t agree because you know a place where they have the most delicious Mexican food you’ve ever had, in Belgium, please tell me. I’ll owe you a lifelong gratitude. – So, when I visited Mexico, I was delighted. The food was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. A little bit too spicy from time to time, but delicious. I’m drooling again by only thinking about it.

View  from the Ilamatepec volcano in El Salvador, surrounded by clouds.

6. I climbed a volcano. Twice.

Not twice the same one. But after living a whole life without seeing a volcano once, climbing two volcanoes is a big step. I think. No? One in El Salvador, with a nice greenish-blueish sulfur-crater lake to admire, and one in Léon, to slide down on a wooden board afterwards. Both the climbs include a magnificent view of green surroundings, lakes and other volcanoes in the famous ‘Ring of fire’. Oh, I saw lava glowing and gliding down Fuego in Guatemala as well, also twin volcanoes forming Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua and I had a nightly swim in the hot springs encircling the Arenal volcano in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Volcanoes aplenty.

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Snorkeling around Isla de Pelicano in the archipelago de San Blas, Panama.

7. I snorkeled in the Caribbean.

Yep, I didn’t snorkel before. Nor did I go to the Caribbean. A bit of a two for one experience. What an environment. Crystal clear water, white sand beaches, corals and fish that aren’t afraid of touching you. I spent hours in the water. Watching fish swim by. Breathing in and out calmly, especially after my panic attack in Bocas del Toro. – Water can be a bit claustrophobic for me, and my first snorkel experience wasn’t a success. Luckily, San Blas proved me wrong not to snorkel. – Making sure my boobs didn’t touch the sea urchins on the seabed. Trying not to get drifted away by the stream. Feeling like a mermaid in her natural habitat. – Hair underwater = flowing into eyesight = mermaidlike – Getting water into your goggles. Again and again. Being in the water the whole day and still don’t feel like leaving. Wake up on an almost deserted island and snorkel again. Heavenly.

The famous bedroom. Tarantula not included.

8. I woke up with a tarantula in my bedroom.

For everything’s a first time, as there is for waking up with a tarantula about a meter away from your bed. As seeing dolphins jumping out of the water when your boat speeds by. Or watching poisonous snakes in their nightly habitat. Or a sloth smiling at you when you take his picture. As seeing those cockroaches racing the street at dusk. Having ants in the shower and white-nosed coati’s at your feet. Howler monkeys screaming their lungs out and grabbing bananas from your hand. Starfish sunbathing underwater. A porcupine in the trees and a deer crossing the road in a flash.

9. I went white water rafting in Costa Rica.

I never rafted in a tropical environment. I never rafted in a rainforest. Hell, I never even rafted before. It was great. Honestly, sometimes I’m missing out on a lot of things in my life. I was afraid of loosing my lenses. – I’m blind without them. – I was afraid of falling off the raft. I was afraid of hitting my head on a rock and die. Instead, I got the most amazing experience, feeling great while huge waves leave you soaking wet and you feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins. Butterflies dot the sky above you and you’re surrounded by green. It feels like you stepped out of civilization, at least for an hour of 4. It is awesome. And yes, I fell off the raft. But I didn’t die.

Now I’m curious. I had a year full of adventures, but what did you do for the first time ever this year? 


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Anke Roosendans

illustrator / travel addict / architecture lover / crazy about mid-century modern design

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