The planning completed, it was time to execute. We woke at 4:15 am for our flight out of Tucson to LA, LA to Tokyo, and 31 hours later arrived in Kuala Lumpur. We had been mauled by the TSA, fought through swarming masses of travel-crazed, oblivious-to-their-surroundings people, and sat in seats meant for people the size of 3-year-olds for hours on end. The short-term reward; Severe and painful jet lag.
Ok, so why do we do it? Why do we want to travel the world? Why not stay at home in our comfortable surroundings and enjoy our hard earned retirement? I’m writing this because I’m really not sure, because I’m tired, and yes, very cranky. I need to see it defined on paper so I can feel that the pain is worth the reward of the journey.
But what is the reward? Is the reward about the sights, like the magnificent Altiplano in Bolivia, or is it about the immersion into other cultures like the Sherpa of Nepal, albeit for only a brief time, or how about new foods, smells, sounds? All may be good candidates to justify the excruciating agony that is travel today.
But, if that is all there is to it I might just hang it up and sit in the comfort of my nice house. It’s just not enough. In thinking about what I remember the most from various trips, what meant the most to me, it was how I dealt with all the issues that arose, the excitement of communicating with people that didn’t speak a word of my language but which usually resulted in much laughter, eating, drinking, and general merriment. I remember walking across the market towards the Flan Lady for my daily dose of flan in Tarija, Bolivia. She’d spot me, smile a wonderful smile, and start preparing my flan. We’d arrive at her little stand and she’d hand me a small plastic cup filled with flan. We would attempt small talk, using our limited Spanish, I’d pay her the 25 cents for my flan. As we’d depart she’d say: “see you tomorrow?”. “Si” we’d respond. She’d smile. What did I learn? What did I gain from our little encounter? That a simple life can still be a happy life, that there is a difference between want and need. That what makes life is human interaction. A kind moment shared.
So, bottom line: I guess we do it, travel that is, for personal growth. Wisdom acquired through sharing time with someone ‘different’. Yep, that’s why, and well worth the pain of the journey. I can’t share that gift with you via this blog, but I can share some photos of what we’ve seen. Enjoy!
Hike, Drink, Live, Laugh
The Vino Hikers
P.S. My most proud accomplishment after doing this ‘adventure’ travel stuff: No bed bugs!