Tag Archives: Travel. Competitive Traveller

The competitive traveller – Part 2

30 Nov

The last few weeks I’ve not done much blogging.

Why’s that?

Well I’ve realised that I’ve actually fallen into my own competitive traveller categories and in particular the competitive numerical traveller and the competitive local experience traveller. I’ve been travelling a bit faster. I never really move too fast me. Always feel that if I move too fast I miss out on stuff so tend to slow it down, breathe and enjoy where I am. But the last few weeks have seen me crossing from Colombia into Ecuador, doing couch surfing for the first time and having a wonderful “competitive local experience” while on the Quilitoa route – I mean who wouldn’t walk into a shop and ask a local family if you can spend the night with them rather than with the snooty Dutch pair who run the over-priced and under atmospheric hostel in Isinlivi?

I’ve met “competitive animal spotters” in the Galapagos Islands, become a “competitive foreign language speaker” and a competitive budget traveller (cue turning up on Isla Isabella in the Galapagos only to be told that I was trapped there owing to the census with a budget of about 10 dollars a day in one of the most expensive places I’ve ever been).

And now it’s time for me to become a competitive blogger again….

As I travel the competitive travellers just seem to swarm around me like flies. I try to swat them off but not before I’ve listened to their incredulous tales…

Competitive group travellers

This lot travel as a pack. Commonly Australian. You’ll know them as they will take over the whole hostel you’re staying in and know each other inside out.

They come in groups of 10 or more.

They will regale you with stories of “this one time in a hostel in Taganga we just, like, took over the whole place man and had this wild party”. They may be wearing a “Loki” (a chain of party hostels) t-shirt and will generally only stay in places which are “party hostels” (ie horrid, noisy and with little chance of sleep for us lesser mortals).

They may still have on an arm band from their last party hostel, after all these travellers drink and take so many other substances that they need to wear a band around their wrist so they can be taken home when lost and unconscious. You can’t expect them to remember where they’re staying. They are simply too busy having fun.

All stories start with “this one time when we were all in….”. You can try to take part in their stories but let’s face it if you weren’t there you’re not part of the group and can’t really share their tales.

They may also regale you with stories of competitive drinking and competitive drug taking “this one time I took so much blah blah blah I didn’t wake up for 3 days and then it was in another village, man”.   The others in the group will, of course, laugh at this….but really it’s just all, dull, dull, dull.

These guys speak a little Spanish. Not too much. They know the words for “copious amounts of alcohol” and “where is the nearest party hostel”. They don’t need much else after all in their “group” they all speak English.

Competitive language travellers

These guys are so smart you’ll want to start your life from scratch and take a leaf out of their book. They can speak so many languages and so fluently that’ll you’ll feel constantly thick in their company. They claim to just “pick up” the lingo as they go. They claim not to have studied any of these languages at a language school or some other sad place. But when you cross examine them in more detail you’ll probably find that these guys are “secret studiers” and probably a grammar book or phrase book will fall out of their bag which they’ll claim they’re carrying for a friend, a likely story me thinks.

Of course, they won’t only speak “normal” languages like Spanish or French or something like that which most schools subject their pupils to.

No, these guys will speak Quichua, and when you say do you mean Quechua they will look at you with derision in their eyes and say “not Quechua, Quichua, the indigenous language of Ecuador stupid….pani imanalla” (which translates as “how are you in Quichua?”)

These guys can’t only speak the local language but every language of every one wherever they are. You’ll probably know this guy as the one who doesn’t waste his time speaking to you in English. English is for losers after all….try learning Hungarian he will say..

Competitive music instrument travellers

You’ll recognise this one from about a mile away….she’s the one struggling off the bus not only carrying a rucksack packed full to the brim with crap (she’s definitely not a competitive gear traveller, those guys would make mincemeat of her rucksack (well 2 rucksacks actually and the funny shaped box which is hard on the outside but ever so difficult to carry).

Of course later in the hostel…bad luck to any of you guys who end up in the same hostel as this one…out will come the funny shaped box…you’ll feel obliged to ask what it is…but of course it won’t be some normal instrument like a guitar, it’ll be an indigenous musical instrument whose name you don’t know…she’ll then describe for you its origins, the number of strings it has (as if you care) and how frighteningly difficult it is to tune and to play. She’ll say the name of the instrument so quickly “charango” for example that you’ll think it’s a triangle she’s playing. You’ll ask her how difficult can a triangle be to play and she look at you scornfully…and repeat it’s a “charango”. She’ll then show you it. You’ll be trying hard not to like it, after all what a bloody stupid thing to travel with…but you’ll have to admit that it is super cute…and when she plays it does sound quite nice though one too many of those Bolivian folk songs could give you a headache.

This one speaks a bit of Spanish and knows the word for “rhythm” and “chords” in Spanish which to be honest is pretty useless unless she happens to bump into another Spanish speaking charango player…unlikely…only tourists buy stupid things like these…

Competitive long travellers

You’ll start the conversation with “how long have you been travelling then”…you might not want to hear the answer but it’s a good conversation starter. The answer, delivered nonchalantly, “15 years, you?”. You don’t really know where to start with a conversation with this guy. So sometimes it’s better to just stop there and move on….with “dash I’ve left my dinner cooking in the kitchen, man, better go”…after all 15 years of travel stories is enough to put anyone off travelling for life….

Right better go just now…in the middle of a local experience here in Quito…more competitive travellers soon though….

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