Driving from Cape Town, South Africa to Victoria Falls, Zambia in a borrowed Toyota Land Cruiser (yes, we met the owner in a bar) was a crazy adventure.
Sleeping in our tents listening to the sound of content lion purrs after a kill, hyena's stalking the area yipping at each other and hippos crunching at the grass just a few yards from us was an experience unlike any other.
Flying over the Okavango Delta - one of those locations where National Geographic films from the sky - on a sightseeing flight, followed by a drunken evening with the pilots in town was an awesome experience.
Dealing with major car issues leading to a complete break down in the tiny town of Mahalapye, Botswana absolutely sucked, but naturally lead to the incredible experiences had by all when we were adopted twice - by a dairy farmer/restaurant owner and by a game farm owner where we spent time relaxing and enjoying time in their company.
Yes, these are some of the crazy stories that I love to tell and tend to catch the attention of those within earshot.
However, when I find myself alone and daydreaming - or just thinking about my time abroad - what do I think about?
It tuns out I don't focus on these crazy adventures.
Instead my mind focuses on the mundane, yet beautiful, everyday moments.
Being smothered in motherly hugs and cuddles by my adoptive “nom” on her couch on a lazy Sunday afternoon, the air heavy with the spicy smell of delicious homemade Cape Malay curry.
The rough sand grinding against my feet as I run along the beach on my "normal post work run" near my home in Muizenberg at sunset, with the gail force wind whipping my face and only kite surfers to be found on the beach with me.
The delicious and smoky smell of meat - chicken, lamb, goat, almost anything - on the open braai’s (barbecues) lining the dusty streets of the townships we visited.
The ridiculous and yet lovely crowd stopping, gold-toothed smile, laugh and “Welcome to Cape Town!!!” with full body motions, from the one and only Carol at the front desk at Once in Cape Town where I worked and lived.
The building voices and laughter of my friends in all of their distinct and beautiful accents as we sat in one of the many restaurants where we shared a meal.
The chaos and exhaustion of planning, prepping, cooking, and recreating classic foodie treats from scratch - sometimes with the wrong ingredients - so my roommate and I could host American style holiday gatherings - think 4th of July (in the middle of winter), Thanksgiving (in the spring), Cinco de Mayo, Christmas (in the summer) and much more - to crowds of 25+ people.
The feeling of the cold rock against my body and slippery ladder rungs gripped tightly, as I hid my fear of heights bringing some of our guests on a hike up Lion’s Head to take in the stunning views at sunset.
Collapsing on the couch, with rooibos tea in hand, the sweet yet subtle smell a reminder that I am home - to spend some quality quiet time by myself or with one of the three guys who allowed me to use their space as my own to "get away" from it all.
It turns out it wasn't the crazy storybook moments that mattered the most, rather it was moments like these that touched my heart and left a permanent mark on my soul.
These small, repetitive, rarely notable moments are the ones I cherish most.
They are also the ones most difficult to share with others.
They are not moments I could Instagram easily or even categorize as something special - yet when it comes down to it, they are what sparks the most feeling.
In fact, I think for many of us it is small moments like these that we cherish.
Whether the smell of our grandfathers cologne or the way our moms' hand brushed our back as she hugged us day in and day out. Or the way our best friends made our bellies hurt from laughing as we lay in the grass during college. It is these moments that stick in our memories and stay with us through life.
So why don’t we value them more?
Often, it seems, we are instead looking for the next high - something that we can share with others. We look for excitement and new experiences.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore adventures and new experiences.
What I am suggesting however, is that rather than be looking for the next big adventure all the time we should also be paying attention to those small moments we experience in the present.
In the morning really taste your coffee and experience the flavor as it rolls over your tongue.
Appreciate the people you work with - their funny quirks and all.
Notice and appreciate the beautiful “smile lines” around your best friends glowing eyes as she grins.
Stop to smell the jasmine, orange blossoms, roses and other beautiful flowers that line the street on your evening run.
Appreciate the moments with your loved ones - the hugs, the warmth and the feeling of that person being close.
Because ultimately, life is fleeting and these become the moments we live for.
“Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
- Winnie the Pooh