And in truth the only ship there is
Is the ship we are all on
Burning the world as we go.
Posts tagged ‘reasons for travel’
I have been back in the states for a little over a month now. In some ways, my life has slowed down a lot. I go to the same place for work every day, I see my old friends. I just got my car back. I do 'normal' life things -- like get my car inspected. But at the same time, I am still in flux. Still very much in transition - sleeping on an air mattress with my sleeping bag as a blanket. Still unsure of where I will go beyond July 27th. Still unsure of what I want.
I am used to being stared at. Being a lone female traveling in Asia solicits stares like you wouldn’t believe. There is no way for me to not stand out. I look different. Or when you are negotiating a busy street in Kathmandu with your friend and you are both carrying big backpacks. You get stared at. Or when you are the only white person, not to mention woman, on a bus in a rural area in India. You get stared at.
I am pretty used to it at this point.
At first it bothered me. Made me feel self-conscious and very aware of my actions. But then I started to smile when they stared. Or I said hello (or whatever the culturally appropriate greeting was). But mostly I started to smile at the stare-ers. And usually, it caught them off guard. But, for the most part, I got a smile back. Sometimes that smile started a conversation, sometimes it got me offers for food, got me a cup of chai, sometimes it got me invites to join their family. But most frequently, I got a smile back.
South America is different. Here, I get stared at, though I don’t think I look all that different (especially when I get asked if I am Argentine or Spanish). Here, I get stared at, though I dress fairly conservatively (especially compared to the teenage girls). Here, I get stared at, and I don’t get a smile in return.
I have been surprised. I do not find the people here (so far in Bolivia and Argentina) to be all that warm and friendly. They do not return smiles, instead, quickly averting their eyes (‘what, me? No, I wasn’t looking at you. no, not me.’). Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, my smiles fall on cold faces.
And it is hard. It is hard to not take it personally. It is hard to still feel open. It is hard to feel compassionate and warmth towards the people here. It is hard to keep smiling.
One of my goals on this journey was to open myself up to the world – to not let fear stop me from new experiences and new people. To build bridges and not walls, something I sometimes struggle with. I have been forced to build bridges along the way – to trust strangers and new friends. To make allies where I can and to smile at strangers. To laugh at myself and believe in the inherent goodness of others.
South America is testing me. It is hard to remain open, to want to build bridges, to keep my guard down (and not build walls) and not cocoon myself. The looks I get sometimes, the unfriendly, cold stares — sometimes I feel myself retreating back in — and I want to fight it, but at the same time, I want to protect myself. Sometimes all I want is to go back to where I look different from everyone else – because at least there I got smiles.
and that is not to say that there were not cold looks in asia and there are people here who smile….
So, perhaps this is my test – to learn to stay open to the world, even if they are not open to me…. to remember that it is about me and how I present myself to the world – not about how others react to me.
Sometimes it is hard not being ‘home’, though the longer I am away, the more I think about what makes up a home. Like other travelers, turtles that we are, we carry everything we need on our backs – moving from place to place, able to make that our home. Whether it is the dirty hostel or the place I have treated myself to in La Paz (clean, quiet AND friendly – whoa!), I am able to make a bed my home city after city.
But sometimes, I miss ‘home’. And maybe it is not home, as in a place, exactly – but it is being there for the important things. Like a friend’s pregnancy, a new baby or a death in the family.
So, today, in my new home (for a few days) of La Paz, I will raise a drink for the father of my mentor who passed away this past week. I have been thoroughly blessed in my life to have a series of amazing, kind, thoughtful and awesome mentors who have helped shape my life – both personally and professionally. My mentor’s father, who I met at least a half dozen times, was also kind, thoughtful, and funny. I always enjoyed meeting up with him.
Being a turtle, carrying my life on my back, allows me to see the world, learn from its people and experience what is our there. which, my mentor helped me be ready for. But, being a turtle, I am far away from the people I love.
I am thinking of you all.
Every once in awhile, I have a crisis of faith, of wondering what am I doing, being on permanent vacation (is that really what I am doing — being on vacation for 9 months?!)? What am I doing – but going from coffee shop to restaurant to reading my books to eating food? To not having a purpose? To just sight-seeing day after day?
Today is one of those days…
It is raining today. which makes it harder to figure out what to do. Do I sit in my room and read? Do I try and go to a festival that is at a temple somewhere near-ish? Do I just keep eating and spending money as I wander from place to place?
I like having purpose (for evidence, see the past five years of my life) — and sometimes I just am not sure what my purpose is right now… as you might imagine, I am not one of those people who are really good at just sitting on the beach! So, maybe that is my purpose – to learn to just sit. To be here, without a purpose and wait for that purpose to come to me. Or for me to find it. Or to figure out that purpose can mean lots of different things — that it is not all about goals and checkpoints.
But, please, don’t get me wrong — in the grand scheme of things – i feel tremendously blessed and lucky to be here — to witness the world and expand my horizons. But, sometimes when I get caught up in the details of every day life and miss the comfort of home and friends – it is those moments that i wonder what i am doing out here.
Or maybe it was just all the pictures and stories of turkey and thanksgiving food all over facebook that did me in….
I am trying to figure out if I should head out of Kochi, or if I should stay another day and go to the festival, or if I should go elsewhere in Kerala, or if I should go to Hampi, or if I should…. you see the problem? There are so many options… how do I pick the best one? or to not be paralyzed by the multitude of options and just do nothing?
I guess I will go drink a cup of chai and try and figure it all out. or maybe just read my book.
be well friends. thanks for being part of my pupose — to be able to share my thoughts and observations with you all.
hope you can avoid black friday! 🙂 i am doing my part and just shopping locally.
Why leave a job I love, salary, benefits, kids and co-workers that challenge me and keep me laughing? Why leave a community of friends and a living space that I adore? Why leave the safety of what I know and feel comfortable with?
I have never been one to choose the easiest path. When I was a senior in high school I moved to France to be an exchange student with only about two years of weak high school French under my belt. Twice I have moved across country to places where I knew only one or two people. And most recently, I moved to western Massachusetts to help open a school, not knowing anyone but the person who hired me.
But this feels different. Friends love to make fun of me and my endless list making. If nothing else, I am practical and pragmatic. I love making lists. I love planning for the future. But now, all I know is that I will be traveling for 9 months. I know there is no way to plan out all of the trip. I cannot foresee every change that will come my way, every bump in the road. Or what exciting adventures I will find out there!
This adventure is going to be a challenge. I anticipate that I will see and learn and grow in endless, countless ways. But really…. so why go? Here are my reasons – both big and small.
1. because it’s there. Like Mallory, I want to go for the sake of going – for the adventure. I want to see what’s out there. I want to climb and trek and hike all over the world.
2. I want to learn spanish.
3. I love my job, love my work – but there is a whole big world out there – ready for me. I don’t want to be that disgruntled teacher, going through the motions year after year. I hope to return after this year fresh and ready to jump back into the hard work of teaching.
4. There is so much cool stuff out there — I need to see it! Being a biology teacher, I am continuously in awe of the world and natural wonders. I cannot wait to see the Himalayas, the Andes, the beaches of Vietnam, Thai temples and Patagonia.
I leave in 3 months. There is so much to do in that time – bags to pack, shots and meds to be taken, bank accounts to be sorted out, sell my car, pack up my stuff. Sometimes it is a little overwhelming pulling together all the details. But then I think – oh yeah, in 6 months, I will be climbing Aconcagua. Or maybe, in 3.5 months I will be trekking in Nepal. And the stress and anxiety fades into the background just a little.
So, here are the details….
I leave on August 28th and fly to Nepal. There I will meet up with my good friend Lisa from college who lives there and my good friend Katherine will be arriving the next day. Katherine and I plan on trekking while in Nepal. Right now, we are deciding between the Annapurna Circuit or the 3-passes trek. Both sound amazing. Maybe we can do them both….
Katherine is in Nepal for 6 weeks and I do not have a set itinerary other than flying out of Delhi, India on December 18th. At some point, I will make my way to India. After spending a month there a few years ago, I know I want to go back and explore more – though hard to choose where! Varanasi, Calcutta, Rajasthan, Chandigarh…. the list goes on and on.
But, on Dec. 16th, I will fly to Thailand for a 5 day lay-over on my way to Vietnam. I know it is super short – but I bet I can eat a lot of really good thai food in those 5 days.
Then I arrive in Vietnam for 2 weeks. I plan on going to the Mekong Delta, Da Lat for the mountains, Nha Trang for the beaches, and Hoi An. New Year’s on the beach? sure, sounds good.
Jan. 6th I depart for Buenos Aires, Argentina. I arrive on the 7th to meet up with friends in order to attempt a climb of Aconcagua (one of the 7 summits). Between traveling to Mendoza for food, supplies and permits and then being on the mountain – our hope is to be back in Mendoza in late January/early February, drinking fabulous Argentinian wine, celebrating our successful and safe climb!
From there, I plan to head to Patagonia for some trekking and more climbing. And here is where the plans start to get a little up in the air…. I know that I want to travel north up the Andes, eventually to Peru. Somewhere in there I hope to volunteer and go to language school. And lots more climbing and trekking. And Salar de Uyuni. Huayhuash Circuit. Cordilla Real. The list goes on and on….
I don’t have a return ticket yet, though I will be making that decision sometime in the next few months. Most likely the end of May, beginning of June. My budget is tight for next year and I will need to return for work (school? Outward Bound? World Challenge?)
So, there you have it friends…. that is the plan.