We're Val and BG. I'm Val, and he's BG. I'm 29+1 and he's 32, we got married five years ago, have been together for 12, and we look pretty cute together, if I do say so myself.
We met as naive, wide-eyed first-year students on the first day of Orientation Week in 1995. I was wearing my mandatory multicoloured beanie cap (with bonus propeller!) and he was wearing a mustard-yellow t-shirt. Somehow, attraction still prevailed. We dated all through the years at school, surviving the stresses of exams, professional school, and strict parenting.
After graduation, BG spent 12 weeks backpacking through Europe while I stayed behind and pined. I knitted him a giant-sized sweater to distract myself. He had a fantastic time seeing the Continent, and I was miserable. He sent me a postcard in every city and bought me a tacky souveneir in every shop he found. He even dragged a pair of "authentic" Dutch clogs back across the Atlantic Ocean in his backpack for me.
Eventually we moved to Toronto, and soon after that, we moved in together.
In September 2000 we went on a three-day canoe trip in Algonquin Park. It was drizzly and rainy, but when I went into his backpack to get him a warm sweater and wool socks, he snapped at me. He was terse and edgy the whole day that we paddled and set up camp. The skies finally cleared after a late dinner, and BG insisted we go down to the beach to "watch the stars", though now, cold and cranky, I just wanted to hit the hay.
I had never seen so many stars. The sky was full of a billion twinkling points of light and I was entranced. I was so engrossed that I didn't even notice BG slip away, and I barely noticed when he came back. He pointed up to the sky.
BG: "What's that up there?"
Idiot Val: "I don't know where you're pointing. Where are you pointing?"
BG: "Up there, to the right. What is that constellation called?"
Idiot Val: "There's nothing there. There are no stars there. What's wrong with you?"
BG: "Don't you think those stars kind of make a shape like a diamond?"
At this point he turns on his head-lamp and directs it towards his pinky finger, and on the tip of his pinky is sitting the most gorgeous emerald-cut diamond on a platinum band.
Then he turned his head towards me to ask the magic question, but at this point, he still has his head lamp on and managed to completely blind me. Chaos ensued, but he didn't drop the ring, and we eventually figured it all out.
It ended up being the best camping trip I've ever been on.
We were married on June 1, 2002.
Since we've been married we've been on a few trips. We started small, heading to resorts in Cuba and Jamaica. In 2003 we went to Mauritius, where we were safely coddled by family living there. In 2004 we took a road trip to Alberta and British Columbia and drove through the Rocky Mountains, camping and hiking along the way.
Our first major expedition was a tour of mainland China in 2005. We visited Shanghai and Beijing, rode on an overnight train, hiked on the Great Wall, saw the Terra Cotta Warriors, and ate far too many dumplings. In Japan we mooned over their automated toilets (no pun intended), were awestruck in Tokyo, and marvelled at the temples of Kyoto.
In 2006 we went on two excursions. Our first was a trip to the Galapagos Islands, where we experienced a diversity of wildlife we'd never seen before; we also visited Peru, where we hiked the Inca Trail and visited the ancient city of Machu Picchu. We also saw the famous Lake Titicaca; in Puno, a town at 3860m of elevation, BG had his first taste of altitude sickness, though we didn't know it at the time. We blamed bad food, or a bug, and after a few days he recovered. It was a good trip.
In October of 2006 we took another trip, this time, to Tanzania, where we spent a week on safari. We saw four of the Big Five (lions, leopards, elephants, Cape Buffalo) but sadly, no rhinos. It was awesome and humbling at the same time to be in the presence of such great beasts. On our second week away we trekked up the Rongai Route of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Roof of Africa, the highest peak on the continent at 5895m. On the third day of trekking, around 4000m, BG started to feel a little "off". By day 4, at 4700m, he was in misery. Still he made a heroic attempt for the summit, but was forced to turn back after four hours of slow and steady uphill trekking. It was a hard moment for us. He turned back down and I continued up, and reached the highest peak, Uhuru, at 9:00 am. I couldn't wait to get back down to him.
After we got back to sea level we couldn't move for two days.
The third week was spent on the island of Zanzibar, where we took a much-deserved rest. Here we lounged on white sand beaches, snorkeled along coral reefs, ate too much seafood, tasted exotic fruits, and regained our strength.
Coming home was hard. Three weeks might have been enough for some, but it was only the beginning for us. Every travel experience we've had so far has only made us want it even more. After months of saying, "I wish we could..." or "Maybe one day..." we decided to go for it.
And here we are.