Where am I
OK, I’m all over the shop this week. I’ve been sick for ten days and what I had planned to get done, in the last two weeks before the trip, I’m now racing to finish. I’m trying not to do the headless chicken thing (Squirrel) but there’s so many thoughts/tasks racing round my head at once. I hear you calm down, calm down.
Too on the nose there?
So obviously the thing to do is take some time out, write a brief blog post, using time I don’t have, as therapy for the panic I’m beginning to feel. Well I’m committed now aren’t I…
The lure of the new, the unseen.
I love travelling, it’s exciting and a little daunting at the same time.
There’s always the big stuff to marvel at, the sights that we’ve all seen in pictures but want to experience for ourselves, the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building or Christ the Redeemer (the statue, not the religious experience…unless you are that way inclined in which case that’s a double play). And those will be standout memories.
But (and yes I know I shouldn’t start a sentence with it) then there’s the everyday, the mundane, which it never is when you’re away. Take getting some breakfast, pretty basic and not too hard right? But you’re not on your own turf, so where do you go? You steer clear of KFC and Mickey Ds as that’s not the experience you want. You want to do what do the locals do: a standup espresso in Italia, a dunked croissant en France, pastelitos in Florida (!) so you seek this out. And you order, deftly negotiating whatever language you’re presented with like the polyglot you are. Or if you’re me, you gain welcome by causing chaos and mirth with vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar faux pas that would have brought down the Versailles treaty. My most confusing experience was when asking for a coffee in Spain I was served a beer. Now I’m no master of accents like Officer Crabtree but even I can differentiate Cafe and Cerveza/ I think the waiter clocked me as British and plumped for serving to the stereotype. Which, I’ve just realised, means I’ve been a victim of racial profiling…although when the only upshot is beer instead of coffee perhaps I’ll not make a fuss!
Moving on. What I’m trying to say is that even the small things you take for granted have a slightly different inflection or nuance while abroad. Every interaction has the chance of being something like never before, it’s a cultural lucky dip – will you get a beer instead of a coffee or perhaps a compliment at your incredible accent (yes that happened to me in Italy but I think it was soft soap while they tried for a sale)…either way I liked it! There is always something new to experience though: whether figuring out the money, the buses, the food, the language, the customs (is thumbs up offensive where I’m going – yes it very much appears to be), etc. These all flesh out the experience beyond the bones of the trip up Sugarloaf mountain or seeing the Mona Lisa.
This is perhaps the bigger part of the buzz of travelling, passing into and through the unknown. Discovery of the new things and places, big events, small experiences, a little self discovery too…my flair (!) for languages, that I like coffee (preferably italian), or that (homily alert) there’s always something new if you care to look. All of these things give travel it’s adrenalin edge for me.
Leaving me where?
Well with all that in mind, I’m looking forward to new vistas, new foods and mangling some Portuguese. Pretty much where I started, excited and with butterflies about not knowing what the next three weeks holds. Just that I need to push or test myself everyday, some tests are just a little bigger than others.