A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then … the glory … a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man’s importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories.”
In 2005, Andrea Enright was living a golden, idyllic freelancer’s lifestyle, her communications portfolio fattening ever with contracts from well-known clients that ranged from Boston Market to Planned Parenthood. She had already successfully escaped the proverbial grind … but something was still missing. Her husband, Michael Boudreaux, a tech maestro for DIRECTV, thought so too. After a bit of soul-searching, they blew out of Denver and joined the Peace Corps.
When their two years of service in Bulgaria came to a close, Andrea and Michael kept going. On a mission they call “Wanderlust or Bust” they continued across the globe, including Syria, Lebanon, and Kurdistan (yeah, that’s Northern Iraq), couchsurfing, blogging, videoing and volunteering as they went.
So where are you now and why?
Right now, we’re along the Red Sea in Dahab, Egypt, living in a shared flat above an Internet café ($10/day for a room and unlimited Internet). I’m rewriting a nearby hotel’s website in exchange for big discounts on food. This is a Shangri-la we though we’d never find. While we’ve been traveling this is more like vacation. Western food. Fast Internet. Sun with breeze. Cheap living. Lapping waves. Yet, we’re finding, even the beach is only pleasing for so long.
What’s the basic impetus behind the Wanderlust or Bust tour?
We wanted to see the world through our own eyes instead of a journalist’s. A main pillar of a well-explored life is grappling with what it is to be human–what our purpose is in this life. The news is a poor representation of human nature, and tends to paint our own as exceptional. But to understand the similarities and differences, you must see if for yourself. And as you explore the souls of others, you end up exploring your own. For us, to “know thyself” is very important.
In addition, travel awakens our senses–and this feels both raw and real. The colors are more vibrant and the grays are more depressing. Travel encourages us to practice “Right Attention”, a part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path which says to be consciously mindful of the way our foot feels in our shoe or how orange pulp tastes on our tongue.
Did you take any odd jobs along the way?
We have. In Fethyie, Turkey, we picked olives, weeded a citrus orchard and helped run a 19th century farmhouse of volunteers and guests for two weeks as part of WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms. (WWOOF). In exchange, we received free room and board and enough enlightenment to last us for years.
In Beirut, over six weeks, we built a new website for Inma Foundation, a Beirut-based NGO which supports the disadvantaged communities of Lebanon, primarily Palestinian refugees. They provided us with a flat, a small stipend and an irreplaceable experience in return.
In Israel, we stayed with a family of five in a small farming community or “moshav” which grew from the Zionist movement in the early 20th century. For a week, we pruned fruit trees, cooked meals, planted spices and helped with their organic store. They provided us with free room and board.
While I travel, I also work in other ways. I provide the Sofia Destination Guide and feature articles for the in-flight magazine of easyJet, a low-cost airline. In addition, for Austria-based Infowerk, (wherever I can find a studio,) I record voice narration for helicopter e-learning modules which are used in European military training units.
Do you feel like that glory that Steinbeck wrote about is something you’re chasing, or do you feel it drives and inspires you?
Both. In the spirit of the Buddhist Eightfold Path, which states that “suffering stems not from what happens to you but how you react to what happens to you” a glory is less about the actual experience, but your reaction to that experience. There are two kinds of glories:
First, the Glory comes when we imagine possibilities and then overcome obstacles to convert those possibilities to reality. For example, when we theorized based on research that Kurdish Iraq was safe enough to navigate, we had to overcome the deafening and guttural associations of “Iraq” and “danger”. In this case, it’s the conquering of the illogical fear which we Glory about, more than the specifics of what we saw and experienced upon arrival. Here it drives us forward.
Second, Glory is a temporary trance. It is about deep and deliberate appreciation of our enormous good fortune of being alive in this very moment. This is the stuff Hallmark is made of, but it doesn’t make it any less true. My Glories have been both cheesily predictable and surprisingly strange. Here, it inspires us.