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I have liked Matador Network for some time now. I found the site a little over a year ago, looking for more bloggy, personal viewpoint-type stuff ahead of a trip to Southeast Asia. Lonely Planet was, and remains, my authoritative reference for places to sleep and transport links, but I was looking for something else at the time. Beyond the technical details of how to travel to where I was going, I wanted to get that sense of travel before actually getting on the plane. The sense of wonderment at being a tiny little part of a decidedly large and interesting planet. So that was how I ended up, wide-eyed, reading through dozens of pieces of writing from what I came to realise were a whole bunch more people out there in the world driven by the same fundamental desire.

So yeah, I had a bit of a crush on the quirky, heartfelt, occasionally hippie travel site.

As this blog grew, and with it the blogging bug, I would return to that site with increasing frequency over the months. In retrospect, what I enjoyed most in the writing was what I enjoy most in the blogs I follow as well. It’s that feeling of heart. More than the polished gloss of the exotic travel mags, Matador was about people for whom travel was but one core part of a larger idea of the world and where they belong in it. One where being matters, where exploring is as much about inner discovery as it is about learning about things outside yourself. For an admitted travel romantic, it was easy to become hooked.

So yeah, I had a bit of a crush on the quirky, heartfelt, occasionally hippie travel site.

So when an email appeared out of the blue in my inbox from one of the Matador editors, titled simply ‘Matador internship?’, my little heart missed a beat. Unlike many stories in Real Lifetm, this one actually had a warm and fuzzy ending.After an excited-but-trying-so-hard-not-to-show-it reply on my part and a few subsequent emails, I am now an intern at Matador. Sort of the travel equivalent of the kid who found the gold ticket in his Wonka bar.

Not even a month ago, waiting to board my homeward flight in Cairo, I had found myself wondering about the year ahead. If you had asked me last January if I would have traveled East Africa with only a bum and a backpack, I would have laughed. If you had asked me the January before whether I would have spent the end of that year throwing fire poi for kids in Inhambane, I would have laughed only slightly less. Looking back, further and further, the years have only become stranger and stranger. And for it, better and better. This one is barely a month old and I can’t imagine it getting much better.