The emotion of laughter/fear. Can’t beat it.

This was for Susan, who told me to ‘do something crazy’ in New Zealand.  Better Thailand than never!  (Sweet Jesus, that snake totally wants to eat the camera.)

This, friends, is a suction cup SMOOCH.

Absolute joy.

This moment was total zen.  They were SO beautiful.  I couldn’t tear myself away.

I wouldn’t let anyone in the cages with the big cats. Maybe someday I’ll regret this – but that day is not today.  Nothing worse than seeing your kid, or your niece, eaten by a tiger.  I would assume.  What?  I’m not a REAL superhero.  Children are my cryptonite.

We make some crazy choices while on vacation.  There’s something about being in a place you know you’re never going to be again, doing something you may never do again, being offered to eat something you hope to god you’re never going to eat again,  that makes one whip off that homemade sweater of security, and put on the scarlet red cape of daring.

Or maybe it’s just me?  I do love the color scarlet.

Thailand was a great place for me to try out my superhero costume, especially in the realm of animals. Understand that even some dogs and cats, peoples’ pets, that I know well, cause a rising of slight fear in me.  I try not to feel that way, I really do, but I’m not a person who always “gets” animals.  I wish I was.  I like the idea of them very much.  They seem like perfectly nice other-species-like souls.  I just like them very much standing over there.

Ugh.  I know.  I’m a terrible person. Don’t sent hate mail.

I assumed I also didn’t like so much when they have the ability to suffocate, stomp on or gnarl me to death.  Yet.  Here I am, in pictures for proof, tangoing with something slightly bigger than a garter snake, loving up on elephants the size of my brother’s Suburban and whapping the noses of those year-old tigers (because the trainer made me! “I told you, Miss, do NOT let them bite you!” he scolded.)

I was given the choice to not do these things, of course.  We all are.  All the time.  But vacation is not the time to play it safe.

Vacation makes me stay up too late (hello Night Market, Bangkok, Thailand), put myself in dangerous situations (hello, terrifying side street, San Fransisco, California) and eat way too much of something that might help clog my arteries in another few decades (hello, everyplace I’ve ever visited.)

But it’s also what puts me on a boat (that I know is going to make me sick for half a day afterward) that takes me out to swim with 300 dolphins in Kaikoura, New Zealand.  And also what makes me climb thousands of stairs so I can see the inside of an erupted volcano on Jeju Island.  Amazing, astounding things.

And these,  THESE are the reasons I should always travel just as much as is humanly possible.

Because I’ve learned that I don’t fear things quite as much as I thought I did.

Because reality is not what I learned in books.

Because I am small and the world is big, and it does me good to remember that.

Because the red cape is begging for wear.