The path to my early retirement and the spiritual awakening were waiting to happen. It started with my trip to Cuba in December of 2008. Visiting Cuba was my dream for as long as I can remember. Most of all, I really wanted to visit Cuba before it changes. I knew that US presidential elections that were about to conclude in fall of 2008 would bring the imminent change way too close. For many years I have suppressed my deep desire to travel but when US elections were around the corner, I realized it was a now or never situation. Time was against me, Cuba could change any day and if I were to experience it before big change, I had to act. The goal was to go before elections take place, which I never accomplished, however I still had at least a few extra months as even after winning elections in November, new US president would not be taking over the Oval Office until 2009. And even then, there were way too many seriously pressing issues which needed attention of new president so likelihood of a ban lift on travel to Cuba taking place this early was small. I still didn’t want to put the trip off any more than necessary and flew to Cuba at the beginning of December. It was amazing.
I only spent one week in Cuba, but it was my first trip after 7 years. I felt happy and uplifted like I haven’t in years upon years. I have forgotten how it feels to have an exciting day, to make whole day an adventure, to explore, to experience, to live. This had such powerful impact on me that come mid January 2009, I left for a weeklong trip to the Dominican Republic. This was even more extraordinary as I was in the traveling mood already so I made each day of my stay there richer with adventure.
These two trips within less than 2 months got me hooked on travel again. I still lived my corporate lifestyle, but took every opportunity I had to go to new places. Living in Alberta, Canada, I went for a brief two day trip to Jasper in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and started making arrangements for a big trip to a country I wished to visit my whole life – Iceland.
I left for Iceland at the beginning of June of 2009 and combined my trip with a one day stay in Toronto, Ontario where I have never been before. It was an amazing day as Kensington Market opened for the season that day so the area lived with many people, street performers, dancers, musicians, free hugs and everything else that makes you feel… awesome.
I spent amazing 10 days in Iceland and was blown away by sheer beauty of that country. It was 10 days of nonstop adventure and major spiritual uplift. The people I’ve met, the places I’ve seen, the things I’ve done – these were the best days of my life since… university. That’s right. It started coming to me that within last year I have done a lot of traveling and I haven’t felt that great for years. While I was traveling, I felt alive and happy.
I traveled to the Rocky Mountains two more times, this time making each trip last at least 3 days. I drove down the scenic highways across the mountains from Jasper to Banff the first time, making stops along the way and doing a lot of hiking to spend two awesome days in Banff afterwards. On my last trip to the Rockies I went all the way to Roger’s Pass in Canadian British Columbia where scenery is so eye popping I had my breath taken away nonstop. Again – I’ve done a lot of hiking and enjoyed every minute of it.
While trips to the Rocky Mountains were not trips abroad for me – being a Canadian – those were still trips during which I explored and had an adventure and it made me feel alive. So within less than a year – from December 2008 till July 2009 I have traveled to three foreign countries (Cuba, Dominican Republic and Iceland) and took three more local trips within my own country of Canada (Jasper National Park, Banff National Park and Roger’s Pass in Canadian Rocky Mountains). On top of that I have also visited Toronto which I truly loved and met some amazing people even though my stay was only brief. This travel reignited my dying Spark of Happiness which was nearly out due to corporate lifestyle I have succumbed to, but not entirely. Complete spiritual awakening after so much travel that re-ignited the spark was just a question of time and come July 2009, I was all there.