Out of my comfort zone. Destination : Mongolia

The last 4 months have been a beautiful chaos and despite reaching some low points and learning some crucial lessons, I was working towards something that today I am very proud of. 2 days from now I will be sat in a red combo van named Pat with Josh, Rob and Hamish, an Englishman and 2 Kiwis that are to become my little family for the next 6 -7 weeks. Together we form The Next Big Adventure ( so LOTR, I know) and we will take part in the Mongolia Charity Rally, a pan continental road trip from England to Mongolia that combines the exciting challenges of such a big trip with raising money for UK registered charity Go Help and donating our pretty Pat at our destination, to be converted into an emergency car. Negative reactions to this? I’ve heard them all and though it disheartened me at the time, I’ve had amazing support from people that encouraged me, believed in me and respected my choices.
Why? Because when Josh came up with the idea, I knew it’s the perfect opportunity to get out there in the world, overcome my fears and live a little more. The perfect chance to finally get a closer look into charity work and take small, but steady steps towards my future projects.  An amazing way to break any negative stereotypes on some of the countries we’re going through (20 of them in total) and, hopefully, a beautiful story I will tell my grandchildren again and again and again.
Am I scared? A little bit, but there’s much more excitement and butterflies and all types of happy feelings. I don’t know what to expect and I get slightly anxious at times with people telling me I’m crazy or that they’d never do it, however I do believe in kindness, bighearted people and making the world a better place one step at a time and that’s something no negative remarks will take away from me.
Prepared? 80%. The clothes and all personal items (missing a couple of things) are nicely organized on Larisa’s sofa, ready to be packed into my duffle bag (Larisa has kindly let me crash at hers for almost 2 weeks so I can save up on rent – You know you’re awesome! Thank you!) There’s a 2 page long check list, the van is having its last health check, mum is sending me daily messages with the countdown, a couple of Russian phrases learned and there’s a fundraising party we’re having at a local club, Orange Rooms, tomorrow night, hours before we leave Southampton to join the other teams in Brussels for the official launch of the event.

I’m annoyingly excited and I can’t apologize for it. I hope this trip, with its good and bad, will be a beautiful journey and will give me the common sense and the experience to grow as a person, as cliché as that might sound.

I will try to update my blog once in a while with stories from the road, but you could also check our official website http://www.thenextbigadventure.info and our Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/thenextbigadventure2015 if you’d like to follow my charity expedition.

To the next big adventure!

Love,

Malina.

p.s. Crossing the Transfagarasan highway first (one of the best roads in the world according to Top Gear), I’m taking the boys to my village in Romania, Epureni, and I cannot be happier. Looking forward to seeing my family and friends and introducing the boys to Romanian traditions (Get ready for the cherry vodka, boys!)

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France: Bordeaux – Bretagne

     I’m sat on a comfy sofa in an overwhelming country house in Bretagne, France. It’s early and everyone else is sleeping. Outside it’s raining, but somehow, it feels good.  (No, cycling in heavy rain to work was definitely not my favourite thing in the world).
     We left Bordeaux Saturday morning and few hours later, Bretagne welcomed us with breathtaking views, dream country houses and beautiful weather. We’re in St. Gildas de Rhuys, a quiet, yet charming village by the Atlantic and walking down its streets probably makes me look like I’m on something as I’m in continuous awe, grinning and giggling and dreaming.
8 am yesterday morning, we left to the Sunday market (happening every week in the village) and I didn’t want to leave the place. I got lost in the multitude of people buying fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, cheese, seafood, cakes, crepes, all local produce. Apart from the endless mouth watering food choice, which was the main ‘attraction’ of the market, one could also buy hippie jewelery, clothes, bags and all sorts of little things from cheap watches to the highly annoying loom bands.
Overlooking the market, a very busy coffee shop was hosting curious looks and warm smiles – locals, tourists, half asleep backpackers getting their daily drug dose to wake their eyes to the beauty around them. People on bikes with baskets overflowing of bread, cheese and flowers, super friendly (yet not annoying) local traders, lots of ‘Bonjour!’ and ‘Bonne journèe! ‘, all under the warmth of an ambitious sun trying to make its way through the clouds. After a relaxing week and a half in the Bordeaux region with my first ratatouille, sinful, delicious homemade wine, Dune do Pyla and Mami’s famous ‘soup’ (that actually gets you drunk), we ended the day by the ocean where the water was so calm. I stood there for a while and (beware! Cheesy, lame part coming) I felt truly happy. I forgot for a moment about everything else and just lost myself in the view. I’m living my dream and i’m extremely pleased that I get to see all these interesting places in the company of locals who would share funny childhood stories and tips and secrets about the food, the people or the best places to visit that haven’t been discovered yet by the many tourists. Learning so much about myself, trying to always escape my comfort zone (big girl here – went on adults rides in a water parc), I’m easily building the lifestyle that keeps me happy, with less worries, less drama, more smiling and being more grateful for everything I have.
Slight change of the subject, as a leaving present, my lovely GO family gave me a beautiful leather-bound notebook to write in about my adventures and because I haven’t got as much time to develop the millions of things in my head, the notebook is a massive list with pieces of my heart. In the same principle, my posts will sometimes include some random sentences at the end, stuff that I would like to write more about or just silly things I want to look back to in years time and make fun of my silly self.

The randoms

– Mami is 88 years old and one of the coolest grandmothers I have ever met. Also she dresses impeccably and makes the famous ‘soup’, aka the best cocktail ever. The recipe was a family secret.
– My new family is actually French. They moved to Switzerland a while ago and started their family and business there. Asked what they miss the most about France they replied: “Salted butter, pastry shops and markets”. No wonder they have a restaurant. It’s all about food with French people.
– I’m learning to knit. Friends and family, prepare yourselves!
– Tried learning to swim. Failed.
– Uncle Glen, (thanks for reading my blog) I saw two pretty campervans. None were as cool as the ‘Slug’.
– For those interested (English people in particular as I know house pricing in England is a bit of a joke, especially in the South), with £100k you can easily buy a 3 bed country house, decent garden, by the ocean. 😉
– It’s no myth: French people are very well dressed. Simple, yet very chic.
– I have started doing yoga and I love it. (Thank you, Bina!)
– I’m getting a little bit obsessed with herbal/fruity teas and oats.
– Nowadays, my name is ‘Aina’ or ‘iiiidhdbdbsbdhdgsbv’, as the little ones like to call me.
– I’m rocking the baby carrier. Dancing with a 5 month old has never been easier.

Hope you are as happy as I am!

Bisous!

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