This trip could not have come at a worse time. I was sixteen years old and at the end of my sophomore year. Simultaneously, I had been practicing taekwondo for nine years. The month before I was supposed to depart on my Aegean Adventure, my black belt testing was moved to occur while I was in Greece. I would have to cancel my trip and the money that I worked so hard for would be for nothing. I talked this over with my teacher, who was directing the trip; He looked upset when he told me it was too late to back out but assured me that everything would work out. I also discussed this disposition with my master at my taekwondo school. He sighed as he told me there was nothing he could do about the date change and I could take it next year. The problem was the head master, who conducted the black belt tests came to my school only twice a year. I arrived at home disheartened and went in my room, closed the door, and laid down on my bed with the lights off. Contemplated my options in peace but was still frustrated. I went downstairs to see this month’s travel magazine on my kitchen table and flipped through it to come across the article that changed my mind. The article was titled something like, “Greece: Something you really don’t want to miss.” I cannot recall the actual title but I remember re-reading this exposition several times. I went back to my head master and told him I would be taking the test when I returned from my trip. My test will still be there in a couple months, but the opportunity for this adventure would not last. That night I was so excited and packed my luggage well in advance. A few days went by and I was finally in Greece! I could not really concentrate on these ancient sites because my mind was still on my test. My teacher told me to let go and enjoy your few days in this place of abundance of history and culture. After some time, our cruise was porting at this unknown island.
Moments later, I was looking down in awe upon the most outstanding place my eyes have ever seen. Never would I have imagined riding a foul smelling donkey up inside of an ancient volcano, while following a foreign elderly man who spoke no English to the most breathtaking site would feel this accomplishing. To think just a week ago I was sitting in a school desk in New Jersey blew my mind. This heavenly paradise was the island of Santorini, nestled alongside of the mainland, Greece. All my worries about life back home suddenly vanished. The sea breeze warmed my face as I stared at the white water washed architectures, which all had perfect waterfront views. I hopped off my donkey and started to wander into quaint little shops, filled with original artwork and handmade authentic apparel, bordering the path to the top. The walkways seemed to be getting narrow as I walked forward. To my discomfort, I had accidently been separated from my group. Attempting to locate my friends and teacher, I strolled through small cafes and pastry shops with not a worry in my soul. The true essence of travel is to get lost in unfamiliar places, which allows you to experience new sites and grow as a person. To my distain earlier, this trip could not have come at a better time! This island will forever be my mental getaway.
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