A couple of days ago Eliot told me that he wanted to go home. He was suffering from a splitting headache a- complication from the Chiconguna virus he got from a mosquito bite and was at a low point. It was a very hot night and the neighbours were blasting salsa music in the street. This is Christmas and New Years time and Colombians love to party during any festivities. I tried comforting him and when that did not work I gave him one of the 30 atavan pills my doctor prescribed for those times when one of us needed to get to sleep fast. Problem solved. As he lay there out cold drooling onto his red beard it occurred to me that we never asked the question- why are we doing this? why are we leaving the comfort and security of Vancouver BC with its sushi bars, hot yoga and separated bike paths to backpack across 4 continents in 9 months?
Travel blogs say that travel makes you awesome. However, I think that is a bit of a stretch, in my mind awesome is something that makes your heart stop with admiration at the sheer wonder of existence, something like the Rocky Mountains or Lake Superior from the road between Wawa and Thunder Bay. Modern travelers are no Marco Polos or Jacques Cartier’s. Going to Machu Pichu by airplane and train does not make you awesome.
Travel does make you worldly, it can even make you sexier by putting you into a gene pool where you become exotic rather than common. Not that I am looking for that – I am married. This is for your readers out there- once you get out of your gene pool you may be surprised to find that you are suddenly an item. Beauty and sexiness are often constructs and can be manipulated by people that want to sell you stuff (insecurity sells). In many African countries thin is not in-zoftig is where it is at. When you travel the features that are common in your home territory can become exotic and also you become emboldened by being away from home and seemingly free from complications. I remember going to Denmark in my 20’s and being shocked to find out being short, dark, hairy and talkative made me an item in the bars of Copenhagen but that is a story for another post.
Back to the subject matter, I do have some goals that I have set for myself for this trip that I would like to list out now. At the end of the trip, I can then go back and see how I did, sort of like one of those feedback forms you get when you attend a course, buy something on amazon or call customer service. This is my way of being transparent and accountable ish.
1.) Learn- My main goal is that the experience of travel will be a learning experience. When you stay in the same place you tend to fall into routine that results in ennui. When you travel, you cannot go into auto pilot, you are constantly faced with new stimulus, you have to figure out where to go, what to eat, who to trust, how to communicate. Everything is new, everything is novel. I want to shake that 50 year old tree really hard, some branches may fall off but hopefully new ones will grow. I hope to have 9 months of intensive learning, including learning a new language, learning from first hand experience what life is like for people outside of the comfortable bubble of Vancouver/North American life. I also want to learn new skills including blog writing and harmonica (so far all I can play is frere jacques).
2) Slow Down- I operate at a very high speed and I need to slow down, to be more mindful and to think before I act or talk. I am hoping that the need to pay attention when you travel to details in order to survive (ok well in order to get by) will help me learn to slow down. To be more mindful. I know I will never attain the mindfulness of a buddhist monk, but I really hope to become less reactive than the poster child for adult hyperactivity ADD that I can sometimes be.
3) Relationships. I hope to improve and enhance my relationship with Eliot as we spend an intense 9 months together. I also hope to develop and enhance relationships with others and most importantly with myself. This will be a self discovery experience.
4) Meet cool new people.