El viaje empieza – the journey commences…

7 Jun

There comes a time in every modern life when it is necessary to blog. In fact aren´t some experiences just bloggable (definition on blogossary “able to be posted to a blog or worthy of being posted to a blog”)? Do you have the experience to have it or to blog about it later? Is that why youth hostels are full to bursting with people on laptops recording their every move for later while, well, not moving..is this travel in the modern world? Has the age of computers improved or worsened our travel experience? Does it help to read someone´s blog before venturing into the unknown or do we take on, consciously or unconsciously, their feelings, their likes, dislikes, even before we arrive..does this affect even how we approach the travel planning? Armed with all these worries I managed to resist blogging for about 8 weeks (my first draft was 6 weeks but the last 2 weeks have just disappeared somehow!) of my travel. After all I had escaped the world of the office, the world of computers, of recording, of diaries, of dates, of meetings, of lunches at a keyboard filled with the crumbs of yet another dry sandwich. I was travelling to see, to smell, to taste, to experience, to enrich my life, who needs to record any of this? Is memory not enough? Would my eyes and ears not take this all in and would I not be able to regurgitate it at a moment´s notice if asked what I had got out of my travels? Do I need to? Who needs yet another record of a traveller following the same route, ticking the same lonely planet boxes, updating facebook status with yet another must see attraction “done”. Was it the ticking off that was fun or was it doing? Had the modern age made it possible to travel from the comfort of your own home? Should we see beauty with the eyes or through the camera lens? Should the tempo of travel be dictated by how long it takes to get that huge camera out of the bag and capture the image which meantime has moved on as life does? Or should it be captured in the mind’s eye?

Is there any challenge left in travel? After all the book tells you where to go, where to stay once you arrive, where to eat, what to eat, what to think about what you have just eaten or where you are eating it, what to listen to, what to see, what to photograph.

So how do you inject that challenge back into travel? Is it by trying to go places no other tourists go to? Or is it more about the people you meet on the journey rather than the things you see. Does the cool guy who runs the hostel and feeds you piscola (Wikipedia definition:- a Chilean cocktail of pisco and cola, my definition hard liquor designed to get you hammered) mean more than the biggest glacier, the highest waterfall or the longest trek? Does the policeman who you hitch a lift with and who insists on taking you for an empanada (basically a pastie but much tastier) stick more in the memory than the local marketplace or museum? These are all the things I have been asking myself these last few weeks. Probably like most things there are no right answers.  Everyone travels differently and it depends on the facts and circumstances as we would say at home.  Where should the balance lie between travelling fast and seeing less and travelling less, experiencing more.

So with all these thoughts in mind I have embarked on the, to be honest scary task of doing a blog of my travels.  The blog is for me mainly, to capture how I feel so when I look back I have maybe captured a smidgen of the feeling of the first time I saw things, of the first time I experienced things, of the laughter, of the moments, of the glances but most of all of the people I meet along the way.

Before I set out on the task of the blog, like so much of life, it is important to set out objectives for the travel.  After all, who wants to wander without aim or purpose.  On the other hand, I don’t want so many objectives that the travel is yet another chore or task.  So here we go, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timetabled objectives for the time in South America (currently set at 4 months):-  to learn Spanish (or castellano as they call it here) and to learn to dance.  And one last objective which is probably not specific, not measurable, which I am not able to test whether it is achievable, not realistic perhaps and not timetabled.  This last one is to travel slow, see more.  The approach to travel these days seems to be to travel fast see more (or less? or more things but in less detail).  As part of this objective I will see but may not always manage to get off the beaten track.  I will observe without speaking.  I will listen.  I will try to be open-minded.  I will try to learn about others.  I will try to be open-minded.  I may not, of course, achieve any of these things but I will certainly have fun trying!

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