|1||Algiers, Algeria||January 5, 2020|
|2||Timgad, Algeria||January 6, 2020|
|3||Constantine, Algeria||January 7, 2020|
|4||Taghit, Algeria||January 8, 2020|
|5||Timimoun, Algeria||January 9, 2020|
|6||Tlemcen, Algeria||January 11, 2020|
|7||Oran, Algeria||January 12, 2020|
|8||Casablanca, Morocco||January 14, 2020|
|9||Marrakech, Morocco||January 15, 2020|
|10||Agadir, Morocco||January 16, 2020|
|11||Laayoune, Western Sahara||January 18, 2020|
|12||Dakhla, Western Sahara||January 20, 2020|
|13||Nouadhibou, Mauritania||January 21, 2020|
|14||Choum, Mauritania||January 23, 2020|
|15||Chinguetti, Mauritania||January 24, 2020|
|16||Ouadane, Mauritania||January 25, 2020|
|17||Atar, Mauritania||January 25, 2020|
|18||Nouakchott, Mauritania||January 26, 2020|
Monsooners: Waka “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs” Taylor, Pier “Sneezy”, Kevin “Sleepy” Behnke, William “Dopey” Taylor, Tim “Bashful”, Martin “Happy”, Peter “Doc”, Crystal “Maktoub” Renteria
|1||Luanda, Angola||February 24, 2020|
|2||Praia do Sarico, Angola||February 25, 2020|
|3||Calandula, Angola||February 26, 2020|
|4||Pungo Andongo, Angola||February 28, 2020|
|5||Quicama, Angola||February 29, 2020|
|6||Namibe, Angola||March 1, 2020|
|7||Lubango, Angola||March 2, 2020|
|8||Cabinda, Angola||March 5, 2020|
|9||Yema, DRC||March 6, 2020|
|1||Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio||August 8, 2020|
|2||Chicago, Illinois||August 9, 2020|
|3||Sioux Falls, South Dakota||August 10, 2020|
|4||Mount Rushmore, South Dakota||August 11, 2020|
|5||Devils Tower, Wyoming||August 12, 2020|
|6||Jackson, Wyoming||August 13, 2020|
|7||Yellowstone, Wyoming||August 14, 2020|
|8||Glacier, Montana||August 15, 2020|
|9||North Cascades, Washington||August 17, 2020|
|10||Seattle, Washington||August 18, 2020|
|11||Port Angeles, Washington||August 19, 2020|
|12||Westport, Washington||August 20, 2020|
|13||Eureka, California||August 21, 2020|
|14||San Francisco, California||August 22, 2020|
|15||Los Angeles, California||August 23, 2020|
|16||New York, New York||August 28, 2020|
Monsooners: Mihaela “Old Faithful”, Brandon “Easy Rider” Bowar, Daniel “Chief Knucklehead” Reesman, Raubern “Walter Salles” Totanes, Noeleen “Little Miss Sunshine” Tong, Brynn “Aquawoman” Brew, Karen “Thelma” Asis, Evie “Magic Guitar” Joy, Sina “My Anti-buddy” May, Sampson “Charging Station” Lau, William “Dr. Wilderness” Chiang
Remarks: “I feel like I could tackle anything. Recharged. Feeling blessed. Don’t make me cry again 🥺” – Noeleen Tong
“I hope you know I did LOVE the trip. That I was having an amazing time. … I learned a lot- I’m sure more than I realize now, in this moment. But I’ve grown a lot. So thank you. I hope the remainder is amazing for all of you.” – Brynn Brew
“What can I say? I had the most wonderful time of my life. It has done so much for me than I expected. The fast paced nature of the trip was the best part for me. I saw so many places in such little time. I was not vacationing, I was Monsooning! I only joined for a week and it felt like I was gone for longer than that. So grateful for this experience, I’d do it again and again with Calvin.” – Karen Asis
“Not your mama’s vacation– as with all things in life, you get out what you put in. These trips will take you places you never thought you’d go, with people you never thought you’d meet. Calvin does an excellent job of handling the logistics so that you can make the most of your trip. But he won’t hold your hand! If you’re ready and willing to put yourself out there, with a full heart and an open mind, you will have an unforgettable experience.” – Daniel Reesman
“This trip doesn’t feel real. Feels like it was a long dream.
I felt like we were in an alternate dimension; one where the pandemic is real but also distant — we traveled within the confines of the pandemic yet there were so many moments of what felt like freedom or some type of liberation from the confines of the virus even though the type of travel was because of the virus. I feel like the closest thing I could relate to is it felt like I was in a comic book and we would sometimes break the 4th wall. And now I’m crying again.” – Mihaela
“I am feeling pretty much better. And I take the illness after I travel as part and parcel of every journey. I’ve learned to use it as time to reflect on everything I’ve learned. It may sound strange, but I’m grateful for the pain and illness – I’ve learned far more from it than I have lost. At least, that’s what I believe.” – Brynn Brew
“Ineffable. This RV cross country road trip was beyond what I imagined traveling with Calvin. I’ve had my doubts of course, however he led the group with endless positive energy. I was able to see, experience, and enjoy much throughout. Even after much effort in planning everything for the trip, Calvin would give us the flexibility to change his plans at any time, to go with whatever we may feel for in the moment. To have shared the 11 days together with everyone, I feel like I could tackle anything, recharged. What a blessing! I will remember this for a very long time.” – Noeleen Tong
“Well I balled in the Uber so you can add me to the list. I’m going to miss you guys so much. <3” – Evie Joy
“Friends, before I do a proper recap of my journey with Monsoon Diaries I have to tell you that I ended the trip early. That, had I gone along as planned, I would be in San Francisco today, along with the rest of them. But, by the end of our ten-day journey across the USA by RV, I was exhausted beyond measure. I thought that a couple nights of recovery with my Godmother in Seattle would be enough rest to last me the rest of the trip.
But I woke up that second morning still tired. And when I got into the car to begin the trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, I barely had the energy to take pleasure in the beauty I was witnessing outside my window, let alone hold a conversation. So, after driving to the lookout in the Olympic Mountains National Park, I told Calvin I had decided to go home. After he asked what was on my mind, I just told him that very simply I was exhausted.
After a quiet pause, he just simply said “you have no more spoons”.
I can’t tell you what a relief it was to hear him say that — it is rare to have someone bring up the spoon analogy. I didn’t have to explain myself any further, because he got it.
The spoon theory was an article written several years ago by Christine Misanderino. In it, she tries to explain to a friend what it is like to live day-to-day with chronic illness. If you’ve never read it, you can check out the link in my profile. The spoon theory basically serves as a metaphor for fatigue and the mental or physical energy a person has available to perform everyday tasks of living. People with chronic illness just generally have less spoons.
Enter in the things that I don’t talk about here. I have lived with several auto-immune disorders for about a decade now. Many of my health problems served as a huge inspiration for me to go back to school. I don’t talk about them because I never wanted them to be an excuse. And to an outsider, it would be extremely difficult to perceive. I put myself through nursing school while working several jobs, become an ICU nurse, competed in triathlons and bike races, and traveled the world alone. I’ve climbed mountains in Morocco and gotten altitude sickness, had my first seizure on the streets of Mexico and, four years later had three of them my senior year of nursing school.
I diligently take 3 pills a day, every day, and have done so for years. I reign myself in, knowing that the energy I expend in one evening could prevent me from being clear-headed at work the next day. I have chronic infections that pop up when I’m stressed and overtired.
But I don’t talk about it. It’s not shame or fear of stigma, although I do pause to decide whether or not I want to check off the disability box on a job application. Because I don’t think of myself that way. Even when I kept getting new diagnoses, it was just a new thing I tucked under my belt. A new mystery for me to learn about myself, a new biology I had to learn, and, when looked at from that perspective, something to add to my medical book of knowledge. And when my patients look at me with fear or uncertainty and ask me how they will go on with whatever new illness that they have, I can press their hand and tell them, “I know that it’s scary, but it doesn’t have to run your life.”
Because I do know. And I ran myself right up against that wall and, once so got there, completely depleted, with no spoons left, there isn’t anything left to do but sit down and rest until they come back again. It’s with gratitude that I know my body so well and can say what I need.
Do I wish I could have finished the trip? Absolutely.
But never have I felt like I’ve been held back and I don’t feel that now. I got to see more of this beautiful country than I ever have before. I’ve met incredible people. I was joyously reunited with others. And I do believe, to the depths of my being, that I did finish the journey that I was meant to go on. That I poured everything I could into the experience and that I have received far more than I even realize now, in this moment.” – Brynn Brew
“No goodbyes please lol. I’m still hungover from all of you.” – Karen Asis
“And Calvin- truly, it was wonderful. Thinking about it now, I’m so glad. For all of it.” – Brynn Brew