Travel Well! And always remember that the world is basically a good place, full of honest and well-meaning people.
The reason I bring this point up today is that last week, Matt and I met a very distraught traveler. I´d been introduced to Sarah a few days earlier by some fellow acquaintences of hers. The next time I saw her, she was alone and kind of wandering the streets in crisis – her face all teary and she was sort of panicked. The friends of hers that I knew had moved on, leaving her all alone in an unfamiliar place. Travel often brings up all kinds of issues to deal with – fear, anxiety, isolation and sometimes just a general funk due to being constantly on the move that I call ´traveler´s blues´. Sarah was freaked out, alone and needed to be with other travelers.
If this happens to you when you are on the road . . . relax. Take a deep breath. Don´t put any pressure on yourself about having to do anything in particular. If you want to stay cuddled up in bed at the hostel for the entire day . . . then give yourself that luxury, no matter if you are leaving in two days or two months. Always, always, always be kind to yourself. Beautiful things await, great hikes are to be had, and gorgeous pictures to snap, but if too panicked to really enjoy any of it . . . then what´s the use?
And most of all . . . remember that the world and life itself is all in how you process it. If you think the world is shit and full of theives and dishonest people, then truly, you will attract only people who will try to take advantage. It is crucial to remember that while the world does have the occasional unscrupulous cab driver or tour guide, that a very large majority of people are helpful, friendly and kind. Remember that you are safe, and that the world will take care of you. Trust, but keep alert always.
So, Matt and I sat down on the cobblestone street with Sarah and listened to her cry. She was all inside her head, spinning in circles . . . upset about losing her camera, confused about obligations of being taken on ´tours´ that locals offered to her and yammering on and on about how she only had five days left in Peru and on one hand wanted to see ¨everything¨ yet was afraid to leave the hostel. Whoa.
I asked her if she´d eaten yet that morning. She had not. Eating is important – especially if you are in an emotional and confused state. We fed her. Then we insisted she come with us on our hike. We couldn´t leave her there, crying in the street and completely freaked out. She came with us on our hike, and consequently the beauty of the day got her out of her head. I have not seen her since and most likely never will again.
Remember that if you are feeling down while on the road, there really are plenty of other travelers you can join for a day or two. Ask around at local hostels or join a networking group such as couchsurfing.com. Take a few deep breaths, go on a short hike, or if you need to, just spend the whole day laying around in bed. But mostly, just remember that the world is a good place. Trust in that fact and you will find that your woes will eventually slip away . . .