2015 year in review: from India to Croatia and beyond

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A year ago, during Christmas time, I was having a long, bumpy ride to Kerala. I rode an elephant, swam in the Arabic sea and used to start my mornings with a cup of chai. As I‘m writing this post, I sit in my childhood room back in Lithuania, the sky is grey, it‘s raining and cold outside. What a contrast! The days are running like crazy to the end and it‘s time to sum up what happened to me in 2015. I spent 9 out of 12 months abroad and added 6 new countries to my travel list.        

India

January was my last month as a teacher. I never wanted to be one, but I have to admit that it was one the coolest things I did. My main activity was teaching basketball, apart from some additional tasks. Most of the time I was walking in shorts and all sweaty. „Why are you playing alone?“, – asked one little fellow, when I was practising in the basketball court. „Because, I like it“, – I answered cheerfully. That‘s how I spent me free time at school.

It was quite sentimental to leave the school, I attached to the kids, but a little traveller that sits somewhere deep inside my head was already looking forward to get back on the road.

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DSC_0891Long nights in the buses and trains, thousands of curious eyes always following every move you make, scams, heat, dusty roads and many more – it all fits under the banners of my travels in India. Hampi, Auroville, Rishikesh, Varanasi, Agra, Jothpur, Jaisalmer, Aurangabad, Goa and Mumbai – 2 months of wandering all around India. I swam in th Indian ocean and Ganga river, hiked in the Himalayas, visited Thar desert, dozens of temples, fortresses, drank gallons of chai, ate dhal fry everywhere I could and now everything is just gigabytes in a hardware and my head. There were some hard moments, when I thought that I will never come back to India,  but now I‘m dying to hit the road again and explore other parts of the country. It was no doubt the most memorable trip in 2015.

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Nepal

After well organized chaos in India, Nepal appeared to be so calm and peaceful. I spent few days in Kathmandu and headed to Annapurna Circuit. I remember one rainy, cold and windy evening in some mountain hut. Local Nepalese family invited to sit next to the stove with them to get warm, while they were making me dinner. No electricity, twilight and those hospitable people that almost didn‘t speak any English – that is one my brightest memories from Himalayas.

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Unfortunately, mountain gods weren‘t very kind to me: it was too much snow to go further and I had to turn back at 3500 m not finishing the whole Annapurna Circuit. It was a big disappointment, but on the other hand the trek was really rewarding with astonishing scenery and I can‘t really complain. So 17 days in the mountains and 180 km. My second longest trek so far.

Lithuania

After 7 months in Asia, coming back to Lithuania seemed as an exciting idea. Not. I was feeling depressed quite often and didn’t have any plans, what to do with my life. I wanted to spend my time at home meaningfully, so I volunteered with children with disabilities. It was really tough to believe that we are living in the best of the possible worlds, then I saw those innocent children doomed to suffer.

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I also travelled a bit in Lithuania, especially by bicycle. I enjoyed the soft spring weather, the greenery we have and calmness. In order to see your country in different perspective, you have to leave it for some time.

I solved “what-to-do-with-my-life” problem very simply – left again.

The Balkans

I spent more than 5 months in the Balkans, 4 of them in Croatia, where I volunteered in small village in the Eastern part of the country. I was always surrounded by people there, did a lot of physical work and in the end I understood that I’m done with volunteering, at least for some time. Probably, because my time wasn’t very meaningful there.

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But I also spent two weeks in the refugee camp and it was one of the best experiences in 2015. I was pleased to meet a lot of volunteers from all over the world who did care. I’m shocked to read all those negative articles in media about asylum seekers. I wonder, what all those haters would say, if they need to spend 2 months walking by foot, risking their lives to cross the sea or being sent from one train to another by European governments, when everything you had is left behind.

I also visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Slovenia. Bosnia is my favourite. I love that mix of cultures that you can find there and it’s much more unique compared with other countries I’ve visited in the region

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And again Lithuania…

I think I’ve finally learnt how to come back. My mood is not swinging so badly as it was after coming back from India, even though most of the days aren’t very exciting. I’m still struggling to find my place in this big puzzle, but I try to follow my 6th sense. Sometimes adventures are waiting on the front porch, you just have to remain open to all the possibilities. The most important part is the people. They sneak into your life, tame you and change the direction of your journey. I don’t know what 2016 will bring to me, but whatever it might be, I feel calm and confident to face it.