Let's Become Explorers...
I have always been one for traveling but was it initially exploring or to delay the inevitable intrusion of the real world into my life? Those people taking gap years are they really exploring? Is that not what we dream and talk about when we book that ticket to fly across the world to different continents? It’s a year away from a real job; a year away from conformity, a year of actual freedom. Does this matter? Whatever it was, it was an important part of the journey and got me to this moment, place and these thoughts..
At 18, when I first hit the road, I saw work as a waste of time with little reward. A monotonous machine that stopped me doing what I wanted. Little did I know that a job could give me fulfilment, a purpose, home, friends and the money to support the lifestyle I want.
Travel provides me with new cultures, flavours; climate; and a different view from the window. But I have come to realise that just being somewhere different doesn’t make you an explorer. In order to wear that t-shirt, you need to have encounters with locals, get behind the facade, walk down the back alleys and engage in the reality with your own eyes. Set a foot outside your comfort zone, step away from the guidebook, package tour, the hotel, and find an experience which is natural to the environment your in.
That map you can buy where you have to prove you’re a world traveler by erasing all the countries you’ve visited irrespective of how long you were there or where exactly you were: what does it really show? It makes a three-day hotel stay in New York, look like you’ve driven Route 66 and listened to the blues in Louisiana.
I now realise that the true exploration comes from “slow travel”. Exploring as opposed to traveling is a question of quality against quantity.
Sitting here in the mountains of Argentina, thinking of experiences and examples of great value, it always comes back to the times when I gave a place time and from that followed deeper connections.
- Most recently living with the Chilean don “Jorge” in the mountains of the Elqui Valley. Morning coffee and simple chats over food, putting the world to rights in my broken Spanish. Heading out to paint his new shop and spending the day chatting with locals.
- With my friends in Thailand, exploring hidden parts of the country, heading out to local festivals. Going to the market to collect ingredients and making curry paste with @yui mama, and then sitting around a feasting on delicious home cooked food.
- Crey Fishing in Sweden with family. Getting up at 4am, the stillness of the lake and anticipating the ritual to come.
These are experiences of the explorer but not necessarily the traveler, who might see only those accepted “landmarks” scratched off that map.
Do we really need to travel to get these experiences?
Avenues for exploration are everywhere. Let’s become explorers....Bx