The day Jon and I pulled out of the Springs in our moving van was the day Katie Decker departed out of Denver, thanks to British Airlines, to make her way to Spain. Luckily I caught her just in time before she left to chat about her new adventure (and to ball my eyes out while saying goodbye to my big sister).
K : Okay, okay, here we are. Cheers to the New Year!
A : Yes, Cheers! Alright Katie, so where are you going?
K : I'm going to SPAIN! To Europa! Haha. I am specifically going to Mijas, Spain. It is on the southern coast, Costa Del Sol. I'm right on the Mediterranean Sea, and it's this quaint little village on a mountainside ten minutes from the beach! It's really beautiful.
A : GAH I'm so jealous...
K : It's actually what they like to call "the hidden gem" of España.
A : So why are you going?
K : I'm going... to get uncomfortable. And to experience culture outside of what I'm comfortable and familiar with. I really hope, through this program that I'm doing, to develop more of a vision and idea for what I am called for after.
A : What do you mean by "called for"?
K : Called 'to' after. So, kind of my purpose. I have an idea of what I like to do, what I'm good at, what makes me come alive, but I really want to figure out how I can take all of that and impact people and the world for Jesus. I'm very strategic in how I live my life, and so I like to maximize what I do. I have a limited amount of time and skill and energy, and I really want to use that the best I can, you know?
A : And what about traveling is going to help you find that sense of purpose do you think?
K : Well, I think the whole thing about traveling is that it takes you into a new environment, so that you have to let go of control and comfortability and everything that you knew, and kind of adapt and respond in ways that really stretch you and challenge you. It opens up your eyes a little bit wider. I really like that about travel. And everyone always says that it gives you "world perspective". Thats a cliche, but I really think that it is really profound because you get so many new and different perspectives that you probably may not have thought of is you stayed living your own life with no one else to influence you. I like to have people influence and push me and sharpen me.
A : Yeah, definitely. It seems like there is a great sense of adventure in you.
K : Yes, I'm so excited for adventure!
For her interview, Katie creatively put together a number of "travel attire" ensembles for me to photograph. These are some of her favorite outfits to wear on her world-wide adventures.
A : So When did you first feel the flame of adventure and travel in your life?
K : It's funny because I feel like I've always felt this way. Even when I was a little girl, I was never afraid to try things and to go outside by myself, giving my mom a heart attack running around all by myself. Even as a kid in my own imaginative world I would always want to go somewhere new, I never wanted to stay in one spot. I really think also our parents put that in us too. I mean my first trip overseas was when I was, what, 11 months old? And we went to South America and lived in a tent for a couple weeks? I mean it was crazy. We just always grew up learning how to interact with different cultures and traveling and know how to get around and such, so that was fun.
A : Oh yeah for sure. Besides that one time when you were 11 months, what other places have you been?
K : Well since our dad grew up in South America, we would always try to go down every couple years, so I've been down there to Bolivia and Brazil with the family. I did an Asia trip with my dad to China, Singapore and Thailand. I've been to parts of Europe before like Germany, England, Wales, the UK. Oh and I've been to the Middle East, to Turkey and Israel.
A : Which place was your favorite, and which was most memorable?
K : Hmm... I think my favorite was the UK, because it's kind of what I've always imagined Ireland to be like and it's my dream to go there. I also really love the people, I love the quiet lives they live, the close communities they have. It's gorgeous too. Even the pace, it's slower. they have tea time. And the CASTLES! Oh my gosh.
A : I know, that was fun to see together!
K : Yeah , right! And it's definitely all about who you're with. I think my most memorable trip was to the Middle East, because Jesus has never been as real to me as He was on that trip. Seeing the places He literally walked on this earth, and imagining how He lived His life. I mean, He was a real man! It makes Him feel really close and more real. We read these Bible stories and we think it's some fantastical land somewhere else, but going to the actual places and reading through the stories while sitting where they happened... it's just mind blowing. It gives your faith more deeper roots, and a harder ground to stand on. It was amazing.
A : It sure seems like it! Katie, why do you want to see the world? I mean I know you kind of answered this one, but... humor me.
K : Haha, well it's kind of like how I approach what God has for me. In the Bible it says to desire spiritual gifts, and to want all of them. I want all of the world that He has to give to me too! Memories, experiences, people that you might meet. I have this theory that since we are all made in the image of God, and yet all unique, not one is the same as the other. I believe that each person you encounter has a different piece of God to show you, to reflect, to embody. And I want to encounter all of that!
A : Dang, that's a great answer! Ha. So then, what are your travel goals?
K : Oh geez, that's a big question! I guess I want to take advantage of every day. I not care about sleeping as much, or rest, but to really push myself. I'm kind of an introvert, I reeaally like sleep, haha. But I want to give up those things to make the most of where I'm at. And even this program I'm doing I think is gonna test my faith and require a lot of vulnerability, and I wanna give that my all. I want to learn and be teachable, and I hope to come out of this program with new friends and connections, memories, some sweet pictures haha. Practically speaking, I want to come out of this with more of an idea of who "Katie" is meant to be in this world.
A : Very good, very good. Would you ever date anyone you met overseas on any of your travels?
K : Haha! you can't ask that question! Ha. We will see. that's not part of the plan, but we will see.
A : Would you ever marry anyone you met overseas? And/or move to their hometown?
K : That question isn't even on your list is it! But I mean, yeah. Haha yes. If that's the person that I say I Do to then yes. I would adapt to their culture and live with them there.
A : On a less uncomfortable note, what is your ideal trip?
K : Definitely getting a group of people together that I really love, that I know will adventure with me. Not too big though, not over 10 people, that gets a little crazy. Maybe 5-6 people. Going somewhere new that none of us has been to before, so that it's all a surprise.
A : Warm or cold?
K : Warm, obviously! With some type of history, or architecture or beach haha. Or food! But doing it like the locals do it, not like a typical american tourist you know. You gotta get the good spots, the hole-in-the-walls, the hidden gems. And I think to really experience a place you have to be there longer than 2 weeks. So that's the minimum time.
Dancing In The Moonlight
A : Where would you like to go most?
K : Ireland!
A : Oh, right, or course haha. Why?
K : I don't know, I've never been there but I feel like I'm in love with it already.
A : Yeah, this has been a dream of yours for so long I feel like.
K : Yeah, for like my whole life! For some reason I've always been so fascinated with it. I've done a bunch of research, like a nerd...
A : Nerds are the best kinds of people!
K : Yeah! haha. I just love their history. I feel like that country symbolizes overcoming to me. They've had such a crazy story of famine and division and plague, terrible things happened to them. But still to this day the people of Ireland have such patriotism and love for their country and who they are and their heritage. I mean, come on, let's not forget about the accent! haha I love it. Just beautiful country, I love green and water. All the good stuff.
A : Mmmm yes so good. How does culture affect you?
K : For me, it gets me excited. It's like eating a food you've never had before. Where yeah, you could have been ok with all the yummy stuff you've been eating your whole life so far, but now there's another taste you've never had before, a new experience!
A : Yeah totally! It's like you've been eating olive oil this whole time, and then you try truffle oil and you're life, my life is changed.
K : Exactly. I mean sometimes it scares me too haha. I got culture shock really bad one time when I was in Hong Kong. It was bad. I was like in my room for days, and so tired. I think it was just a lot to take in at once. It's so different where you can't accept or adapt to it, and it becomes too overwhelming for you. But usually I love it.
A : How does the places you've been affect you life now?
K : I think a lot of them has made me appreciate what I already have. I mean, in America we live in wealth. We are really rich here. It makes me feel really blessed, and makes me want to not take for granted what I do have. Then I also think it helps me realize I can do things differently too. Its also given me deeper compassion. It helps me understand people who are different from me, and realizing that it's a good thing to be different. We can sharpen each other and learn from each other.
Easy, Breezy, Beautiful...
A: What is one item that you can't travel without?
K : An over-the-shoulder purse. Because I don't like carrying a backpack around, they always hurt my shoulders. I also like to be a bit stylish too! So with an over-the-shoulder bag, it hangs right above my hip so I can always see it and its harder to steal. It also is a cute accessory that you can wear and doesn't get in the way when you sit down. And, it forces you to only bring essentials! So you carry lighter.
A : Where is home?
K : You know, right now, I don't know. That's kind of up in the air currently.
A : You've just come from Chicago, yes? Temporarily living there with Julia, our cousin.
K : Right.
A : And before that you were here, in Colorado Springs. So when you come back from Spain, where are you going to be?
K : Yeah, I don't know yet. I guess that's part of what I'm going to figure out.
A : Ooh, exciting! What is your favorite part about yourself?
K : Just one thing? Haha. Well I like that I always want to grow, that I have a willing heart. I like that about myself because I feel like that is what I value in other people. I feel like that means that I can always be growing and can be confronted if I need to be but I can also be ok with where I'm at at the same time.
A : What is a cool cultural ritual that you have observed from your travels that you really like?
K : I have to think about this one. Okay, I haven't experienced this yet, but I really like what I've heard about Spanish Tapas. They're kind of like smaller hors d'oeuvres plates for a meal. But the whole point of it is that you take longer to eat your meal, which is better for your digestive system and it creates more room for conversation. So your taking smaller bites and talking more. The meals they say go on for hours sometimes, and I'm really excited to experience that.
A : What is your favorite means of transportation?
K : I actually really like subway trains! The Tube in London... its so fun! I like going fast and I like figuring my way around on the different trains, it's fun.
A : What is your favorite international job? If you could have a job anywhere, what would it be?
K : I think it would be sweet to plan events all around the world. So, it wouldn't have to be based overseas. But I'd just love to do weddings, parties, conventions, any kind of event all over the place.
A : So cool! So, this concludes our interview. Do you have any last words of wisdom for the young traveler?
K : I think just do it! If you have even the smallest desire to go, do it now and do it quick while you can. You won't regret it. And journal while you travel! So you can have an account of all the little and big things that happen to you along the way. Oh wait! Also, start being an adventurer wherever you are today. There's so much to see and experience all around you.