I have now been traveling for 4 months continuously and want to take the time to reflect. I am at the stage where I am exhausted from the constant sightseeing, rushing to the train/bus station and sitting on long rides. I am looking forward to my week back in San Diego, where I can lead a “normal” life.
I want to take the time to thank everyone who has helped me along the way, for this trip could have never happened without everyone‘s support. They include my friends back in the U.S. who have collected my mail, stored my stuff and assisted me with errands. They of course include all the new CouchSurfing friends I have met along the way, who have so graciously opened their homes for me to stay, educated me about their countries and cultures and helped me with directions and language. And surprisingly, these “guardian angels” include strangers who trusted a foreigner like myself and “lent me a hand” when I was lost.
Some examples of people who have assisted me along the way include (by no means a complete list):
Roma and Victor from Ukraine who helped me navigate through the language (including Cyrillic) in order to obtain my bus and train tickets
Hill from the Netherlands who utilized his Russian to help me buy a train ticket in Moldova that would not cross through Trandniester (where I could have possibly been detained)
The Moldovan woman on the train from Chisinau, Moldova to Kiev, Ukraine who kindly offered me some of her baked chicken and hard boiled eggs
Stefan from Romania who informed me of interesting sights to see in Moldova and more importantly, hitched a ride for me from the Moldovan countryside to Chisinau so that I would not miss my train that night
A woman in Chisinau who guided me to my host’s place and even called him for me
The girl in Chisinau who spent 15 minutes asking around, trying to help me figure out the bus schedule to some villages
Anda, who took me to Autogara 2, a remote bus station in Brasov, Romania. I would have never found this place on my own
Nikolay, who took me to the remote train station in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. Again, I would have never found this place on my own
Bahadir, who took care of me in Istanbul while I was sick with travelers’ diarrhea
This trip, more than anything, has strongly encouraged me to “pay it forward” by helping anyone (whether they ask for it or not) when I get back to my “normal” life. I also want to pursue philanthropy, as there is no better satisfaction in life than helping those need it the most.