the u. states | oregon | ashland 
well, i didn’t go to borneo. let me just get that out of the way first. what was supposed to be a 2 day layover in oregon on my way to southeast asia turned into a 2 month visit.
in the week before i was to leave i suffered through an abnormally long 3.5 hour border crossing from nicaragua to costa rica [my experience has never lasted more than an hour], food poisoning, being trapped in the lax airport [pre-security] for 10 hours with only a bag of chips and a hot chocolate, followed by two days of intense flu-like symptoms.
all was set – plane ticket purchased, a couple grand in vaccinations paid for, documentaries watched about the dangers i might encounter in the rain forest – and i was on my way to the airport. literally – i was in the car driving to the airport when an email came through about my medical clearance paperwork not being completed. after many emails back and forth to the program coordinators in london, it was finally settled that i would still head to borneo – even without the completed form.
arriving at the airport, i hopped out to speak with the airline about why i was not able to check in online. assuming it was because i had no return flight scheduled [as this sometimes creates issues], i was prepared to purchase a ticket onward to australia after the project was complete. alas, a simple fix was not in the cards for me.
all the information i’d found regarding obtaining a chinese visa for transit through the country as a result of a layover had not been accurate. multiple websites indicated an automatic 72-hour transit visa was granted upon arrival in shanghai. at the check-in counter i was informed that their system required a visa number before i could check in to the flight. so i called and spoke with a representative in the international customer service department. he was under the same impression that i would get a transit visa on arrival. however, the check-in counter computer could not be overridden. it was further discovered that if my layover was 24 hours or less, this would not be an issue. my layover was 25 hours and five minutes.
…so, i did not go to borneo.
as i was more or less experienced by this point in my travels with the spontaneous combustion of plans, i knew what the next step was – a complete rewrite. unfortunately, for me, i was going to be in a wintry environment while this took place. i figured i could make something happen within a week or two allowing me to get back to the warmth of somewhere.
i love ashland, oregon. it’s one of my favorite towns in the world – partly because my brother and mom live there, but also because some of the most interesting members of my tribe are there. and every time i visit i meet more beautiful souls. but it is freaking cold in the winter.
the first week after my missed flight, i didn’t leave the house. i didn’t even tell anyone i was in town [which definitely came back to bite me in the ass…in a loving sorta way]. after the second week a couple friends discovered i was in town and pulled me out into civilization. all the while i was planning my departure; confident that it would be only a matter of days before i was off again. after three weeks, friends began joking that i was back for good – or at least would be around for three months. i did not find this amusing. it was early february and, in my experience, the coldest month of the year in ashland. after nearly six weeks, it was beginning to look like my friends were right – i would be stuck for three months or more.
i was so caught up in trying to leave, that i forgot to pay attention. throughout much of my journey over the last four and a half years, things have gone awry and off “plan”. at some point i began embracing it. i chose to avoid getting locked in to planning too far in advance. i’d learned that by not unrealistically committing to things too far in the future, i was able to be present and take advantage of opportunities as they arose.
a good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
i had learned to take the fork in the road. or so i thought. clearly this is a work in process for me [as are most things]. regardless, i shifted my thinking from finding ways to leave ashland as soon as possible, to understanding why i was in ashland in the first place.
for this reason, i love the universe. as soon as i shifted my perspective from avoidance to awareness, purpose started coming out of the woodwork. i met a friend who i can firmly say was one of a few reasons i ended up in ashland for 10 weeks instead of 2 days. he is a unique, light-filled individual, currently surveying a fork in the road before choosing a direction. we had a great time talking and discussing philosophies of existence and other randomness. other reasons included being around for my mother pre-surgery, getting to experience my brother’s new project [more on that to come], growing closer to some of my tribe, and some fantastic work opportunities.
one of those new work connections helped me refocus on my australian voyage by sharing tips from a family member who was visiting from down under. now that it had been brought back into the forefront, i started looking into going to australia and within a matter of days had worked out when i was leaving and where i was going first.