I stood overlooking Machu Picchu at the top of the world. I saw the fog rolled back and the past revealed. I watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat and the Taj Mahal and climbed the Eiffel Tower.
I saw the remnants of civilisation buried at Easter Island, was shuffled around the enigma of Stonehenge and kicked Hadrian’s Wall. I saw the pyramids and the Sphinx and rode a donkey while guarded by boys with scary guns.
I climbed to the Acropolis and the Parthenon and sat writing my journal at Delphi before wandering through the preserved cemetery of Pompeii and the restored city of Ephesus. I took a bus through the Balkans and stood on the beach at Split and the mountains overlooking Dubrovnik and wandered at the beauty in the heart of human chaos.
I ate breakfast soup for 20 baht at Kanchanaburi and scooped Tagine with sopping bread in the Sahara desert. I ate guinea pig in Peru and cake and cake and cake in Hungary and Vienna. I rode camels in India and elephants in Thailand and only later wondered if I should have. I camped with the Berbers and shopped at the night markets in Luang Prabang and sailed in the polluted waters of Halong Bay.
I did karaoke drinking cheap Thai whisky in a dive somewhere near Chang Rai and danced to Come On, Eileen at London’s Walkabout. I had a DJ in a strange bar in the south of Ireland insist on playing Downunder ten times when he found out where I was from and was forced to participate in a magic show on a ferry to Wales. Wibbly! Wobbly!
I did Hogmanay and drank hot chocolate In Bruges and ate wurst in the Christmas market in Munchen. Took a train through the majestic beauty of Switzerland and skied in Andorra.
I lived in a four-bedroom house with 10 South Africans, shared beds with strangers and even survived a night in a Greek youth hostel that was bug central. I stayed in a gorgeous room in the Intercontinental in Singapore and drank martinis in the exquisite cocktail bar with hiking boots on. I got upgraded to business class coming out of the Amazonian jungle and sat in the lounge covered in DEET and sunscreen with clothes (and a body) that hadn’t been washed in four days. I fell down a mountain in Borneo and had to walk 10km down the Headhunter’s Trail covered in bruises before I could get a soft bed.
I had food poisoning on an Egyptian train with a broken toilet and “Bali belly” in the Indian desert with only a hole in the ground and one roll of toilet paper.
I got marched off a train in Macedonia with a semi-automatic in my face and nearly didn’t make it through a mountainous Montenegrin checkpoint at midnight in the middle of winter, snowing.
I negotiated a hair cut in Kosovo and a shower in a pension in Morocco with sign language and somehow got both. I got lost in a medina and took the wrong tram in Bratislava and both times got shown kindness and consideration and random acts of generosity from total strangers.
I saw the sun set over Santorini, gazed at the beauty of Cappadocia and sailed through the geological and biological wonder that is the extraordinary Galapagos.
But most of all, I stood shivering on a ship to the end of the world. I saw the majestic wonder of the pristine seventh continent. I moved silently and respectfully through giant tabular icebergs and floated past seals and penguins surviving in the most remote parts of Earth.
And as I came back into Ushuaia I almost cried at the sheer beauty of everything.
This is love.
I love this world.