Lava, lingo, literature and light – “experiences before I die” progress

experiences before I die - reading Hemingway on the Florida Keys

The first few months of 2015 have been pretty eventful. I spent two months travelling in Nicaragua, lapping up its spirit and diversity. I negotiated countless chicken buses, and fended off several questions about my solo travel status. I found new contract and freelance work back in the UK. And I met someone I thought I’d connected with, only to see fate have other ideas.

Overall, 2015 has given me a tonne of happy memories.

Many are because I’ve achieved some of my 25 (more) things I’m going to experience before I die. I committed these to paper back in December, and – woo, yay and woo again – progress has been made!

A lava lava action – I climbed a volcano

Nicaragua is home to 19 (count ‘em) volcanoes, so it would have been quite hard NOT to see any whilst I was there. Whilst visiting Volcán Masaya can be done pretty much by driving up to the crater – health and safety laws are a tad different in this part of the world; Volcán Telica near León gave me the chance to hike to the summit and peer into the bubbling lava in the crater below.

Plus, those volcanoes make for some pretty dramatic sunsets. Sigh.

experiences before I did: Volcan Telica crater - volcano Nicaragua
Yup, that is the smoking crater. At Volcan Telica in Nicaragua.

For more, read my post on visiting Nicaragua’s volcanoes without breaking (too much) of a sweat.

Learning the lingo – I became (more) fluent in another language

Ok, so fluent would be a huuuuuugely stretching description of my Spanish language “talents”, but two weeks in language school, followed by independent travel in Nicaragua, helped enormously. At least I can now make a passable attempt at the past tense.

Plus I had a drunken conversation in Spanish at 3am the other Sunday morning after a loooooot of vodka. That counts, right?

For the rest of 2015, going to Spanish Meetup groups will continue. Plus I’m aiming for a trip somewhere Latin America-esque later in the year. There’s still work to do on this one, folks, still work to do…

Classic literature – I read Hemingway on the Florida Keys

Hemingway passed me by at school, so as part of my occasional, “I must read some modern classics” phase (DH Lawrence was a step too far), I decided Hemingway was a must.

And what better place to buy a Hemingway novel than at his former home in Key West, on the Florida Keys?


I read the compelling and descriptively narrated, “The Old Man and the Sea” whilst watching the sunset over the Keys with a glass of wine. A general feeling of “this is the life” ensued.

Letting in the light – I learnt to take photos of moving water

Turns out you use the camera’s “TV” setting and turn the number down a notch. Who knew? I’m gonna pretend this has something to do with “light” (no clue!), cos that’s the only “l” word I could think of for this post title 🙂

The “TV” tip, from a photographer guru, worked a treat on a trip to beautiful Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire, and I’ve been putting in into practice since.

I’ve since joined a couple of photography groups on Meetup, so more opportunities to practice (and learn more from other guru types) should ensue…

More experiences before I die

Lava, lingo, literature and light – achieving these four things from my “25 experiences” list has meant I’ve seen incredible sights, embraced a style of learning I usually shy away from, read something I wouldn’t usually have picked up (and loved it), and met some unforgettable people along the way.

Embracing the “do-er” in me has not only given me those wonderful memories, but reinforced in me my famed sense of pride.

And, with several more of my 25 experiences yet to achieve, I know there’ll be many more proud moments and happy memories to follow …

What are you most proud of so far in 2015? Why did it make you feel that way?
Julie Sykes of The Gap Year Edit


Hi, I'm Julie, a York (UK)-based travel blogger and comfort-zone pusher. Join me as I bring you pics and musings from my mildly adventurous travels around the globe. My mission is to hear you say, "I"m so glad I did it!" instead of, "I wish I could, BUT ..."

Use the links here and in my posts to buy at no extra cost to you. I’ll receive a small commission, which helps keep this website running. Thank you for your support 🙂

Follow me on social media

2 Responses

  1. What a great blog, really enjoyed reading it, you are so talented, can’t wait to read your Lisbon blog! X

Comments or questions? Share them here 🙂

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.