Who am I? Well, first of all, some might think I have some confusion about this as I go by two completely different names - Sharon, given to me by my parents at birth, and Yasha, given to me by an Indian 'wise man', 'guru' or 'enlightened being' - depending on who is describing him. For me the relationship, and reasons for using this name are personal, and I don't usually go into it. Suffice to say that I love both of these names and answer happily to either. My friends and family choose which to use and I am happy to respond. To my parents I will always be Sharon and to my husband, Yasha.
I was born in South Australia and spent my first 33 years in that place. I was educated in Adelaide and became a high school maths teacher.
My first overseas travel experience was in 1978, when I went to visit my best friend who was studying in Nashville, Tennessee. I spent 6 wintry weeks in the USA, visiting Washington, New York, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as Nashville and Memphis. It was a very organised and safe trip for my first adventure alone, but something was awoken inside me that is still very much a part of me - some people refer to it as being bitten by the travel bug.
Once I stepped on that first plane, I couldn't stop. 1981 - a whistle stop tour of SE Asia during school holidays; 1984 - 'the trip to Europe' for 5 months when my first long service leave came due; then in 1987 I took my first steps along the path of travel as my life instead of a holiday. I sold everything and headed to India. I told my family I didn't know when I would be back and that I was probably going to live there... I was home again briefly in early 1988 for my dad's 60th birthday and then spent the next year and a half in India, Nepal, Thailand and Pakistan. In September 1989 I woke one morning in Northern Pakistan and knew it was time to go home.
The only problem was that I didn't know where home was - except that it was in Australia. I flew into Sydney and spent a few days dealing with culture shock in the security of my best friend's home. Then she drove me to Adelaide (domestic air strike!) where I surprised my family by my presence. After a short time there it was back to Sydney to meet up with a friend I'd met in Pakistan and we proceeded to travel in Australia - north to Byron Bay (my first visit there) and then west through the Riverland, back to Adelaide and then across the Nullarbor to Perth.
After he left I once again started to ask myself where home was. I spent some time in the south-west of Western Australia picking fruit, went back to Adelaide to visit my family and then headed up through the centre of Australia to Darwin. I had a sister living there and got a job and thought it might be a nice place to stay for a while. One and a half years later I was once again attacked by 'itchy feet'. This time I decided to travel to northern NSW - a place that had been drawing me since I was a teenager. In February 1992 I arrived and found a place to live. Finally I felt like I'd 'come home'...
In the 14 years since arriving I have done things in my life that I'd often said I wouldn't - I went back to teaching and really enjoyed it at times. I married Juergen - to facilitate his immigration. I became the owner of property. But I also started to travel again, having not been out of Australia since 1989. We travelled to Bali 4 or 5 times in almost as many years. We went to Germany right after we were married and a number of times since. I studied the German language and spent twice a semester in a German university in Oldenburg. As domestic air fares became cheaper, I started to increase the frequency of my visits to my family in Adelaide. I sometimes satisfied my need to get on a plane regularly simply by flying to Adelaide!
But there were still so many places on my list of desired destinations - South America probably at the top. When we seriously set about designing a house to build, I began to think that my life had truly started to go in another direction. I got involved happily in the process, and treated it as another new experience - but somewhere deep down was the unfulfilled desire to be out there exploring new places and experiencing new cultures. When Juergen suggested that maybe he would prefer to travel than to build a house, I responded enthusiastically. And despite the months of exhausting preparation, I think it is one of his better ideas :D