After all the planning, preparation and steady pressure of this year we are finally in Mumbai. But I need to fill in a few details before I can move on: some of you we have not seen in a while and so missed the development of the plan.
Back in January the seed was sown and a question was forming somewhere out there in the mists. In its earliest shape it looked like ‘we wanted to see what the world could offer us and what we could offer the world in return’. And in many ways it has stayed within that framework. We love to travel but wanted to do it with a lot more purpose. Aimless drifting is all well and good in one’s teens and twenties but is not such a good ‘look’ later in life – although there are always times . . .
In terms of what we could offer we had a good mix of skills. Katie with her medical background could be useful in all sorts of situations. Not only a dab hand with a bandage and a sure shot with a needle, she has almost boundless levels of compassion and empathy. My tour operations career has led to a good understanding of how to organise tours, get the group to click as a whole and deliver what I’ve always hoped was an authentic and memorable experience. Throw in good problem solving and decision making plus an ability to mend a puncture in under 3-minutes and together we have a sure fire recipe for success.
Volunteering in some capacity was high on our list and if we combined that with travel then we had something to work with that ticked mny of our boxes. A few ‘summits’ throwing ideas to and fro and we had the plan roughed out. Four months in India starting with a month on a spiritual retreat in a community of people who have had leprosy where we would work as well as meditating (www.anandwan.in & http://www.sanghaseva.org). Then we would head northwest to Rajastahn where we would look for voluntary work with a tourism focus – a possibility of helping to organise camel safaris in the dessert exists!
Our air ticket then takes us via Australia to New Caledonia – New Zealand – The Cook Islands – French Polynesia – America – and finally back to England in July 2015. Other volunteering opportunites will be explored along the way. We have also been accepted as members of SERVAS (www.servas.org) and hope to stay with host familes in various place along the way. Then depending on the success of this first round we hope to explore some longer term volunteer projects.