Traveling gets my energy flow rambling around looking for action. My senses yell at me “we’re awake, ready to roll.” What’s a girl to do? Get out there is the only way I have found to bring a little calm. And just a little because every one of my senses band together on high alert for smells, sounds, color, movement, and a sense of place.
Where are we going, when, how long will we be gone, what do we need to do, hurry up are all yelling in my ears. Yikes. Time to get busy.
I didn’t know I had this “affliction” until I was 20 years old and went to South America. Well first of all I worked all summer at Harrah’s casino in Nevada and dutifully (I was underage so there’s that) saved my money for a trip to South America with a high school friend. She was in love. I was up for an adventure. She stayed with him and I got on a bus.
Maybe you have seen or heard of those buses of long ago. Old. Maybe they made them old because I never saw a new one. Lots of color, fringe on the windows, when there were windows, and a shit load of humanity and livestock. Pigs and chickens mostly come to mind but also goats, calves, birds in cages, small furry animals of some type, snakes, iguanas and then there were the people. Lots of first nation people on those buses and then workers and herders and me. Nothing else was weird except me.
Me, who knew 6 words of Spanish and had them written on a piece of paper I pulled out every time the bus stopped. Everyone I sat next to would talk to me non-stop. I know entire histories and families and customs and habits from smiling and nodding and listening. Nope, couldn’t tell you a thing except they were wonderful.
I hung around with Peace Corps people, missionaries of all persuasions (I don’t get it), those nice Morman boys all dressed up in their pressed white shirts and slacks going around on their bicycles and inhaled a life so different I might as well have been on another planet.
Gone six months. My life was never the same. And I have been going ever since to get those same moments of joy and wonder everywhere.
Years ago, I realized I had given up expectations. They didn’t serve me at all for travel and adventure and being flexible and open to the unexpected. Boy, did that free me up a lot. Thank you very much.
I have traveled a lot with other people and even in groups and that has been fine and I will do that again. In fact, I am going on Safari in October and then to South Africa to meet up with a friend. Some places you need other people for the energy and the logistics of having a guide.
I used to be fine with roommates too, until I realized that many of them were needy and clingy and I ended up being a babysitter and tour guide. So I have weaned away from a roommate if on a group excursion and do a lot better by myself.
When I took the Siberian Express from St. Petersburg through Mongolia and into China, I used a service to purchase the train tickets and hotels at places I wanted to get off and explore. And I do that often, especially when traveling to places with languages that use different symbols. I’m fine with the romance languages. They meet you at the train station and give you all the tickets and information and often suggest places of interest.
I also find it easier for me to have the first night or two booked ahead so when I arrive a bit jet lagged or tired, I have some time to get my bearings and check things out. Most airports are connected to larger cities and I Then I get online and start looking for apartments or maybe I already have booked one through AirBnB or some other online service.
While I am walking around, I notice stores, restaurants, hubs of activity, parks and people, cars, streets, and energy levels. And I usually end up talking to someone who notices me staring at something and wants to help or comes out of their shop to see if they can help me. Yes you can!!! And so, language or not, we communicate, and I find out exactly what I want to know even if I didn’t know I wanted to know. How great is that?
Truthfully though, I have seen enough fabulous and wondrous and beautiful large cities and my heart yearns to get out of town and into the small villages and countryside and quieter side of life. I take a Hop On Hop Off tour of the large city and do some museums and walk along the rivers, have fabulous too expensive food and then leave.
And now I get to go on those buses and trains and ride second and third class and mix with the people and life and energy of those people. I ride horses and walk in the forests and fields and cut across property and talk with cows and hang out in churches and get invited to eat simple meals and laugh a lot. Life is good.
I’m reminded of that Frank Sinatra song “My Way” and I guess that could be my motto. Happy travels. Oh, one more thing. Be a traveler and not a tourist.
Photo credit: Kersti Niglas