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“I could have sworn I was in Tunisia, but wait around: It is snowing and those are church bells and — oh, suitable. I’m in Russia now.”
These discussions had been on a regular basis taking place in my head by the ninth month of my yearlong journey all-around the globe as the 52 Places Traveler. By then, I experienced stopped getting amazed when I woke up not understanding in which I was. I would enable my head capture up as it took in the cues all over my lodge room or through the window and retraced the actions that brought me there. Then, I would take in breakfast, consume way too considerably espresso and get to work.
Each and every day was distinct, and most of the time I would wake up with out the slightest thought where by I would be or what I would be executing by the afternoon. It was one particular of the a lot of elements that made this — touring to all the sites on the Situations Travel desk’s 52 Areas to Go in 2019 checklist — a dream task, a split from regimen and the emotion that each individual day was diverse: a photo voltaic eclipse a person day, a helicopter ride to a remote penguin colony the following.
But that consistent unmooring was also 1 of the job’s largest challenges, figuring out how not to totally float away with almost nothing tying me down. I discovered myself craving tiny tastes of regime and normalcy. There were my day-to-day phone phone calls to my companion back house lots of situations, I was only vaguely informed of the working day of the week, but I usually understood what time it was in New York. There was the delightfully nerdy “Dungeons and Dragons” podcast that I employed to pay attention to whilst washing dishes and performing the laundry now I did so whilst filing bills and organizing photos.
And then there were the postcards.
About the class of the calendar year, I despatched 145 postcards from the 51 places I frequented (I never made it to the 52nd, Iran, since of security considerations). I sent them to aged pals whose addresses crammed a pocket-sizing notebook I stored in my backpack. I sent them to new friends I designed together the way: 1 postcard that I sent from New Zealand to Olkhon Island in Siberia is both even now in transit or, additional likely, obtained misplaced someplace together the way. I despatched a handful to full strangers, born out of mini contests I ran on my Instagram. But the most vital of them were being the types I sent residence: 1 from each place on the list, resolved to my associate and, wherever probable, despatched from a local write-up workplace.
It turned a ritual I seemed forward to, heading off into a large metropolis or a modest city, searching for a postcard. You could possibly be stunned how complicated they can from time to time be to find. In La Serena, Chile, I used a entire afternoon on the hunt — bouncing in between bookstores and souvenir outlets until finally I last but not least came throughout a younger guy in a flea current market who was providing some of his have images. He looked shocked when I asked if any had been postcards but then, soon after digging through a haphazard pile of manila folders, he pulled out a small stack of them. There was none of the extravagant lettering of more established destinations (“Greetings from Las Vegas!”) just scattered pictures of dead trees, peeling doors and empty streets, all expertly capturing the ethereal excellent of the region’s wintertime light. They have been excellent.
Not as soon as did I create a postcard while standing in a publish office environment. Aspect of my ritual was putting the continuous deadlines apart and getting somewhere to sit down, think and have a second just for myself.
On the lookout over the assortment of postcards — 48 of them 3 (Golfo Paradiso, Hong Kong and Los Angeles) didn’t make it — I can remember where by I was, mentally and bodily, whilst creating every single one. By the fire in a countryside bar in Norway with a glass of citrusy conventional kveik beer beneath an immaculately manicured tree, shed in a feudal-period park in the Japanese metropolis of Takamatsu on the front porch of the farmhouse where by I stayed on Orcas Island, listening to the competing discussions of ducks, geese and turkeys.
Viewing the postcards together, the recollections arrive flooding back all at at the time. It is disorienting and overpowering but also exhilarating — just like those “where am I?” mornings. It is, in other terms, a location on encapsulation of the yr.
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