It doesn’t start as a quest for answers or myth busting mission…but, incidentally…that’s always how it ends. Some people believe traveling is mind-opening. It’s not. It’s mind-EXPLODING. Bubbles are burst and opinions shattered. It can be frustrating, heartbreaking and deflating, but it is always rewarding.
After a while, you no longer just blindly believe. You talk less and listen more; you see less but observe more.
The biggest myth of all is that this process is confined alone to traveling. That’s bullshit. It is simply easier to turn a blind eye to reality when you are sitting in the comfort of your lounge, watching the world unfold before you, on a television screen. You can spend your whole life believing none of this will actually affect you.
The smaller your world, the bigger your part; as your boundaries extend, your empire diminishes. As long as you keep living in your comfort zone, you’ll never really question much: your life, your achievements and your opinions are paramount. Step out of your box, and what you grasp is just how insignificant we actually are, individually. Sooner or later you will begin to question humanity’s existence, achievements and opinions. Rather than feeling like the epicenter of a small universe, around whom everything orbits, you’re beamed to a peripheral platform millions of light-years away, looking down on Earth.
What you realize then, is how alike we all really are, no matter where we live. The way we express emotions may differ, but the emotions themselves do not.
‘E pluribus unum’ Unity in diversity
I’ve had to shed an awful amount of comfort, luxury and security to travel as I do; and I’d never claim that is the best and only way to experience the rawness of the world we live in. I do think it helps not to barricade yourself in a 5-star hotel and use only planes to get from A to B.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that there is a distinct difference between holidaying and overlanding.
Experiencing the infinite number of struggles, that result from traveling through a developing country on an anorexic budget, allows me the unique opportunity to discover the reality of the place I’m in and teaches me more about the culture and the people, then I could ever hope to learn from a guide book, or travel brochure. I’ve since learnt that the one continent you don’t want to get ‘stuck’ in is probably Europe; no way in hell would anyone stop on the autobahn to give you a hand and invite you over for a hot dinner. This, incidentally, is just what you can expect in the Arab world.
Moreover, it’s sharpened my instincts: within seconds of meeting someone I can tell how genuine they really are; whether they pose a threat or whether they are one of the myriad of guardian angels you encounter on your journey, usually at a time when you need a friendly hand the most.
Most importantly, it’s taught me how to be happy and satisfied with very few material possessions. My life may be undefined compared to most…but that’s just the way I like it.
A friend once told me that if she had my courage, she’d be sorely tempted to pack her bags and set off. As I said to her: the only prerequisites for this kind of travel my dear, is not courage, but endless curiosity, a generous sense of humor…and abundant insanity.
Enjoy our ride.
Hey Sista, I see your initial frustrations are well worth the effort!
I almost can’t wait for you to leave so I can read your posts…. almost…
Don’t forget to pack your webcam.