I was never one for the travelling. I had too much that I wanted to accomplish and I thought that in order to do what I wanted to do I had to stay in the same place. Head down, Get to work. Good boy.
Erin, on the other hand, had been planning a trip around the world since she was eighteen. After a particularly stressful year, she convinced me that it was time to take a break and see what else was out there.
Turns out there’s a lot out there.
So before we head out on the road again, we thought it would be nice to take a look back at all the things we gained from our last trip and try to pry out some of the reasons why we travel. Just so we’re clear, when I refer to ‘we’ in this article, I literally mean Erin and myself – I’m no anthropological beard-stroker (though I’m working on the beard part) and I don’t profess to understand the deeper reasons why human beings move around. I just know what I like.
To Realise What’s Important
We were in the Andaman Islands looking for a cheap place to stay. We had been to a number of beach shacks, but none of them had really felt like home until we walked into the ones at Pristine Beach Resort and found ourselves getting giddy because there were protruding nails that we could hook wet towels on to and a set of small wooden shelves.
Yeah, forget your fluffy white towels. Keep your little bars of soap and hot running water. This shack’s got NAILS. That PROTRUDE. Where we can HANG SHIT.
We tend to travel on a pretty tight budget, and it really takes us back to basics. When your entire day is consumed by figuring out where you’re going to eat and sleep, little bonuses that you might take for granted back home like air conditioning in your taxi or freshly squeezed orange juice on your doorstep suddenly become immense luxuries and reasons in and of themselves to celebrate.
When tiny things like this make you happy, you end up being a lot happier a lot more often.
Nothing quite prepares you for the sight of an old lady in flip flops carrying a huge bag of firewood overtaking you as you huff and puff your way up a steep mountain track. The resultant feeling is a heady mixture of respectful awe and hysterical shame which, combined with the high altitude, combines to create an experience that you’re not likely to forget.
The thing is, stuff like this happens every day on the road.
We love Bhuj (in Gujurat, India), but trying to explain why we love it is often very difficult. There are no huge tourist sights that draw in the crowds like the Taj Mahal. It’s not a big, dynamic, insane city like Mumbai (though we love that, too). It’s just a small, Indian town where people are just getting on with their lives.
I think we love it because there is something magical about stepping out of the path of an oncoming moped driven by a twelve year old, pure determination on his face, carrying his mother on the back (who was, of course, respectfully sitting side-saddle) then, moments later, seeing a cow step out into a junction and hold up all the traffic as it hungrily rips open a dropped bag of tomatoes with a shake of its great cow head before proceeding to languidly devour the freshly liberated contents.
It’s such a perfectly choreographed sequence that you can’t help but think that the world is putting on a show just for you. Of course, it’s not. People are weird, but you get used to the weirdness of your own people. Getting out and seeing the wonderful weirdness of others reminds you how charming humanity can be.
This is the only time I’ll allow myself to speak on behalf of the entire human race, but we are amazing.
From the erudite and hospitable Thomas, and the proud, friendly locals that he introduced us to on his wonderful walks around the Keralan village, to our San Franciscan friends who put us up and showed us the best of their great city, we met and shared some amazing experiences with some incredible people.
Tired of living in a city? Hop on a train and head to the beach. Don’t like this beach? Try the next one up the coast. Prefer the first one? Go straight back. We may sacrifice a lot of creature comforts (although ‘sacrifice’ might be the wrong word – see realise what’s important, above), but we gain the ability to indulge our every nomadic whim.
We love that we can see things through to their natural conclusion – that the well learned divisions of time no longer have any meaning. When you’re not just living for the weekends, you end up doing a lot more living.
Our number one experience of our last trip was a homestay in Kerala. Originally, we had booked two nights to stay with the delightful Thomas and his family, but it was so exquisitely peaceful that we signed up for an additional three and ended up having some of the greatest experiences of our life so far. Had we been on a schedule, we would have missed it all.
When you’ve got no place to go, you can just be. And it just doesn’t get better than that.
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