Saturday, June 26, 2010
A Day in the Life of the Intrepid
Glenn and I are not strangers to adventure. Seven of the past 8 years we've spent our winters exploring the world, so you would think that we would be fairly seasoned travelers. We've had plenty of experience living out of a car, traveling through Western Australia, Madagascar, New Zealand, Peru, and a good part of the Western United States vamping (our word for van camping). But somehow this trip through Africa is vastly different. For starters, we are not going home after two or three months, as we usually do; we're out for the duration, however long it takes. Secondly, we're not on a destination action adventure, our kites were shipped home when we left South Africa and we don't have surfboards or bikes, the impetus for many of our past excursions. But the biggest contrast, for me, is that we are perpetually transient. With so much ground to cover, so many countries to see, we are continually on the move. Friends of ours, who are driving the Pan American Highway from Alaska to the tip of Chile, have described their life as nomadic, a very apt description: one without roots or a permanent home. But we do have a home, of sorts, it is just on wheels. What we don't have is permanence. Each day brings something new.
For those of you that know me, know that my life is fairly unconventional: I am not a mother nor am I focused on a career, chickens roam through the house without much notice, I can spend days on end perfecting a recipe or learning a new dish, solely focused on little more than the task at hand. I tend toward ϋber enthusiasm for the random cause or issues of the moment (which everyone around me is sure to hear about). I can't sit still and for the life of me cannot ever remember being bored. The fear of stagnation seems to fill my life completely and then some. So it shouldn't be hard living on the road…right? Where every day brings something new.
Without a mental task list bigger than the day is long I feel a bit out-of-sorts. Aside from feeding Glenn and myself, there is nothing pressing. No distractions. In a way I am forced to just be in the moment, experience the sights, sounds and smells of an unfamiliar, new environment…every day. No repeats.
This is hard.
But, I am learning.
What I've learned: I have learned that each day it becomes a little easier to let go of the familiar and embrace the unknown. I have learned that I can cook without an extensive library at my disposal…not by weight and measurement, but by feel and taste. I have learned to be aware of my surroundings. I look for footprints and even 'tracked' Glenn on his way to the loo. I have learned the value of a head of cabbage and a raw onion when fresh produce is no longer available. I have learned to love strangers as you do your girlfriends, because the former often becomes the later. I have learned that I am more of a houseplant than I would like to admit. I have learned to never take those languid afternoons with your friends for granted. I have learned that I really like to define things, so that the foreign becomes less so: I name birds, look up flora and want descriptions for places/people and animals. I have learned that picking up the phone to ring your Nana is a wonderful privilege. I have learned that I am addicted to FaceBook because it enables me to feel connected to those I love. I have learned that Glenn and I are wussies when it comes to strange noises in the dark (like the giant badger that just circled my chair). Without the internet, I have learned the value of a dictionary. I have learned that those afternoon runs/bike rides/snowboard and kite sessions are essential to my well being. I have learned to slow down and engage my 'other' senses. I have learned that nothing brings me more joy, or more frustration, than my husband. I have learned the same is true for him. I have learned to never take for granted someone else doing my laundry, ever again. I have learned to wash my own clothes in a bucket! I have learned to be more resourceful, a lesson I sorely needed. I have learned that people are more or less the same everywhere, if you love them, they will love you back.
With months left to go, I am looking forward to being forced out of my 'familiar' and into the ever changing landscape of life on the road. Maybe I'll even learn how to be still. Not likely, but this is life and in life, EVERYTHING is possible.
Missing you like crazy but loving every minute,