Chapter 1: Prologue: Leonora The Traveler
It was dark. Without the vibrant hues lighting up my eyes, the world was worse than dull. There was nothing, neither black nor white. All I could see was deeply knitted darkness.
If anyone were to ask me what it felt like to be here, I'd have a simple description: As lonely as the depths of the abyss.
The cold icy breeze blew into the back of my neck making my parched lips quiver. I tried to open my eyes but to no avail. Move my hands but they refused to co-operate. All my limbs trembled, weakness and pain had eaten them from the inside out. The only thing that had been working for me was my hearing. Aside from the blowing wind, I could hear the rattling of metal, striking the ground.
Is this the underworld? Alas, the snowstorm has spelled my end? Or was I buried underground? But what the hell am I hearing?
How did it come to this? I wonder. Well, I know how it started, right at the very beginning.
Hi, I am Leonora. Just call me Leo for short – a free-spirited sojourner.
A boring lady who loved to run from place to place with a big smile on her face. I am a potful of laughter and fun. Or at least that's what I thought of myself. The year-long journeys and adventures had led me to become a bundle of grins and beams.
I was far from the smug, cold, lonely, and unhappy corporate pickle that I was a couple of years ago. Yeah, that's what my colleagues tell me. Not that I was expecting them to like me.
The new experience I found during my airplane escapades changed me for good.
With my own two eyes, I was able to see the magnificent beauty of this blue planet. The secret withheld. The hidden wonders. The sceneries deemed exclusive for those who seek... and pay big bucks.
The exquisiteness of nature and the sculptures of time.
The breathtaking scene of creation. The brilliant sights humbled my heart.
I never had thought that a little internet ad would show me a hobby of a lifetime. A lifelong pursuit that had made me willing to spend all my time, hard work, and money.
Who would have thought? A simple promo from an airline would run the gears of everything…
My ventures to the unknown.
I started my travels in Oceania; I discovered the marvelousness of the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Ocean Road in Australia. The Waitomo caves of New Zealand.
What did I feel after finishing my first trip?
It was damn great!
Unexplainable happiness bubbled within me with every step that I took towards the unknown. I felt satisfied. It was a thrill that I never experienced within the compounds of my house nor my office. Something that the large bustling cities couldn't provide nor offer.
Peace and exquisiteness.
The first journey that I took was like a drug. A small dose and you're hook. It was addicting. Thus, I became thirstier and hungrier for more adventure.
One day, I discovered myself sitting on my favorite red couch. My favorite spot where I just let my thoughts run wild. In my hand laid a blue inked ball pen and a short green notebook. I was supposed to finish a research report today. Yet, I found myself writing about the places I want to go, scouring the internet for new marvels to visit.
The little green notebook was quite a messy list. It was full of tinkers and erasures. As I surfed the internet, I held the small green booklet in my arms. A grin breaking out on my face as I tried to seek new places to visit. Touching my usually stiff face, I felt the edges of my mouth curling up.
It had glee as its flavor.
I picked up the pen again, letting it hop on the smooth paper surface. My tickly hands wrote two words. One on the top of the page. And another below the page.
"Bucket List on the topmost part."
"How much? On the bottom part. "
You thought it was laid-back and cheap?
Making ends meet was hard! I tell you! It was challenging! I even had to spend some days in hunger after eating only sandwiches and cheap fruits every day for a whole month. Still, I was happy. I had to give up my chocolate cravings. Heck, that was hell! It was a worthy sacrifice that I decided to make. After all, I chose the priciest travel plans. If I am going to do it anyway, I plan to travel with a bang.
Every buck I was able to save made me excited.
After all, I knew where it was going.
Scrimping money, all in the name of my newfound hobby! So what else is the next step? Buy the friggin' air ticket, book the hotel, search for the best buys, and prepare the backpack.
In a matter of months – another adventure had begun.
I witnessed and waltzed through the breathtaking view of the tropical islands in Southeast Asia: such as Coron, Bali, Palawan, Boracay, Hsipaw, Jaco Island, and hidden islands.
In East and Central Asia, I toured through the beautiful Jeju Island. Drank tea as I watched the cherry blossom season in cultural Japan. I watched the pink flowers drifting along with the light whispers of the wind. Freer than a dove, the petals went where they're blown – following where fate sends them.
I also conquered the wonders of China. The Yellow Mountain, Precipitous Pillars, the Li River, the Alpines of Jiuzhaigou, and the iconic Great Wall. I was in awe after witnessing the architectural wonders in bustling India, such as the Taj Mahal and Delhi. I grasped that traveling was far better than reading those history books and feature magazines.
My adventurous spirit carried me to the wonders of the deserts in the Middle East. I saw the rise of the gulf's futuristic cities. The unique mixture of the ancient heritages as I jump from one country to another. The Holy City of Jerusalem, the Estafan, the Petra, the historical Dead Sea, and many more.
I truly felt the thrill of ingenuousness rising from the bottom of my heart as I experienced the bliss of adventure. My face mugged with grins. I never laughed as much in my whole life.
It was a type of happiness I didn't find at work. Not even when I made a big project successful can compare.
In Europe, I held my breath after seeing the picturesque nature of this continent. The Swiss Alps, the Cliffs of Moher, the Kirkjufell, the Giant's Causeway, the Caucasus Mountains, and the palaces of various European royals.
I could feel the ancient European ambiance seeping into my bones. The flashes of history passing through my wide pupils. I felt like I went back to the past, especially during my stay in old cultural cities. Some road and streets had their own stories of romance, tragedy, and comedy.
My journey didn't' stop there. I also saw the untouched wilderness of Africa, bringing me to another incredible adventure that would change my views. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Africa, the Victoria Falls, the Avenue of the Baobabs, the Egyptian Pyramids, the Hoggar Mountains, the Namaqualand, and many more. The unique flavor of life kept me in wonder.
I then reached the untamed riches of the Latin American Continent. My heart galloped after seeing different wonders such as the Macchu Picchu, the Iguazu Falls, the Easter Island, the Perito Moreno Glacier, Cano Cristales, the Fernando de Noronha, and of course, the Amazon.
Then, I finally reached the continent of North America. My voyages took me to the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, the Yosemite National Park, Hawaii, Death Valley, and the Rocky Mountains.
I had seen and experienced a lot. But the thing that stuck on me was the food. I realized that I would be able to picture the image of the place I visit based on their menu. Each place had its own specialty, speaking volumes about its history and heritage. To speak and understand a culture is… to taste their local cuisine.
Different cultures have different tastes.
I was filled and fulfilled.
I also learned one thing.
Do not fully believe what you read or hear in the news and media. See for yourself! Just don't go to the warzones. Only a stupid man will do so. There was once a man who sought such a thrill. And thrill was what he got.
He became a captive for three years and lived off eating bugs. I wonder if he still wants to experience another electrifying adventure once he arrived home. Though it's good that he managed to escape and tell the tale.
The journey that I took had finally reached its end. It ended simply because I had already spent almost all of my saved up money. It took me ten years to reach this point. It took away most of my savings, but…it was worth it. During my travels, I found out a lot about the meaning of life through my experience. I had searched the depth of my soul.
A good life is not confined and marred by blurred thoughts of comfort. It's found not as we roll in our comfort zone. You'll see it in those dark unknown lands. The foreign soil where you'll be able to discover yourself.
The life that I sought is not only for me.
The art of adventure is free for everyone.
My new novel The Villainess Has Fallen is out! I hope you'll like it. Anyway, please give me some votes to win the contest.
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