Tag

transport

slow travel
Adventure, Africa, Europe

Johnny Cash and Slow Travel

8:15 a.m. Self-Service Restaurant “Mediterraneo.” Grandi Navi Veloci ferry from Tangier to Barcelona.

I look up from my breakfast—a somewhat sad assortment of boxed orange juice, cold croissant and drinkable cappuccino—and observe the other diners. Some are in groups or pairs. Many are young Moroccan families. Many are alone.

Of this last group, few are doing anything (checking phones, or even reading). They’re just sitting there, drinking coffee, looking around. For some reason it reminds me of Johnny Cash’s famous response when asked for his definition of paradise:

“This morning, with her, having coffee.”

I’m not even a particular Johnny Cash fan, but something about that phrase—or more, the slowness it implies—fits this mood.

People choose to travel by ferry (around thirty hours from Tangier to Barcelona, rather than two or three by plane) for many reasons. The slightly cheaper cost. The relative ease and comfort of sleeper cabins and lots of space to roam. The vaguely romantic allure of faded, Titanic-style old world luxury.

And—I suspect—some people choose it for the slowness.

Sitting in a deck chair for hours watching the boat’s trailing wake. Pacing the endless red-carpeted hallways, hands skimming smudged brass banisters, stepping inside and outside and inside again with no special aim.

Sitting there, drinking coffee, looking around.

Because there’s nothing better to do. Because the boat will get there—slowly—and we have time. Because, just like Johnny Cash, we recognize that the smallest moments contain the whole universe—if we slow down enough to dwell there for a while.

For me, that is the essence of slow travel: dwelling in a moment while everything shifts around us, knowing that we’re on our way.

Another reason to take the ferry: They have puppies!!! (If you’re lucky…)
Continue reading
Related posts
What is Transformational Travel, Really?
October 23, 2018
The Floating Pirate Community you always wanted to Join is Real… & it has a Name
September 23, 2018
Don’t Ask me where I’m From, Ask me where Home Is
September 6, 2018
Adventure, Europe

Zen & the Motorcycle Passenger

Sorrento Coast,  Italy

(Mom, you’ll want to skip this one.)
The headlights of oncoming cars are a blur as we race down the center line of the autostrada (highway) from Sorrento to Napoli. I settle into the peculiar flow of this navigating traffic as we weave in and out.
Yellow lines, black sky, breathe in, breathe out.
Yellow lights, black tires, breathe in, breathe out.
Accelerate, brake. In. Out.
It’s just me (passenger-monkey) and my friend (driver-pilot). Fear hopped off this train hours ago, and I’ll tell you why.
***
È stata una giornata bellissima. It was a gorgeous day. Perfect. My friend met me with his vintage motorcycle at the Salerno train station (a half-hour train ride from Napoli), and we (along with seemingly every Italian ever on this last weekend of summer) set off for the Amalfi Coast.
The fresh wind in my face balanced the hot sun as we followed hairpin turns opening onto one dazzlingly beautiful vista after another. The hum (or, more accurately, roar) of the engine blended with the waves and the wind, and conversation was sparse. The sky turned to dusty rose, orange, teal as we rounded past Amalfi and up the Sorrentino coast at sunset.
I must have contemplated my death a hundred times that day.
I usually do when I travel as a motorcycle passenger, and I don’t think it’s morbid. There is a quality of zen to this process of that renders it uniquely compelling for me.
There’s the, “oh shit, this is dangerous” moment, followed by the, “there’s nothing I can do to change my vulnerability in this situation” realization, culminating in (temporary) total surrender to the inalterable fact of my own mortality.
Then a sudden acceleration and, “oh shit,” and we begin again. As the minutes or hours blur on, I slowly stop picturing the many gruesome ways in which this could end badly, my pulse slows, and my shoulders relax. Once that last ripple of fear smooths out, I ender a space of zen acceptance—it’s pretty blissful there.
If you’re thinking I sound nuts, allow me to ask you a question:
How often, in your day-to-day life, do you contemplate your own mortality?
If you’re a healthy, well-enough-off human, I’m guessing it’s not all that often. And yet, we are all mortal; we are all helplessly vulnerable to myriad risks. We all walk a fine line between life and death all the time.
We are all on a precipice.
***
That yellow double line of a Napoletano highway, framed by black sky and black asphalt, is only a metaphor, no more and no less terrifying than the reality we all face. Every day.
The magic of this motorcycle zen is not the “added risk.” Rather, it (and surely a thousand other activities) forces me to reckon with the transience always enveloping me—always enveloping us—and to breathe in, breathe out, and enjoy the view.
***

I took a video so you could catch a view, too!

 
Continue reading
Related posts
The Floating Pirate Community you always wanted to Join is Real… & it has a Name
September 23, 2018
No One is Talking about God (Poetry)
August 22, 2018
Wanderlusters: Running Away Doesn’t Work. (But Run Anyway!)
July 11, 2018
Adventure, Europe

This Is Why We Walk—Maybe

spain, camino, walk

Ancient Practice in the Modern Landscape

 

Sixteen kilometers of open road. No turns. No twists.
The trees are thick on either side, and I’m grateful for the shade they provide. The road tilts up, then drops down again. Relentless.
It is my third-to-last day on the Camino del Norte. My legs are already tired, my feet already sore. I have walked already ten kilometers when I begin this section of road.
Normally, there are trails, or a dirt edge to walk on at the least. Not today.
The occasional car speeds past. They will arrive at the end of the road in minutes.
The road is hard. Straight. Empty.
Relentless.

***

I’ve said it before: traditions have a way of reviving themselves.

We as humans are wired for ritual. We seek it, gravitate toward it and cling to it, and when we don’t find it the world suffers.

It has been theorized that there is a cross-cultural link between lack of ritual and conflict. Or, to put it positively, ritual is a necessary component of conflict resolution. That’s a longer discussion I’d love to have with you personally.

If this gravitation is (as theorized) a response to a lack of ritual in modern society, the wild success of trends like yoga and meditation would arguably be the same. I believe that tendency to seek meaning through practice has everything to do with the recent resurgence of interest in the Camino—and other pilgrimage.

The juxtaposition of this ancient journey with the modern landscape through which it now passes fascinated me from start to finish.

What does it mean to walk a centuries-old trail alongside a six-lane highway? Beside a railroad track? Through a buzzing city like Bilbao?

How does the addition of asphalt, smartphones, gortex and wifi change the experience? Enhance it? Devalue it?

If you change everything—the trappings, the clothing, often the landscape, the food, the language, the Road itself—but keep the journey, is it still the same Camino?

I’m inclined to say yes—in spirit.

If you take a human body, give it artificial limbs, blood transfusions, organ transplants—replace everything, say—do you still have the same person?

Your answer may depend on whether or not you believe in a consciousness, a soul, a Self (call it what you will) that is greater than the sum of all its parts.

If you change every piece of the Camino, from the culture around it and the people walking it to the very structure and environment of the journey, what remains the same?

In my opinion, it is the spirit of the journey. It is the seeking, the act of walking, that has somehow drawn us across history to follow the same path.

And you can lament the omnipresence of wifi or cell service, you can dismiss the validity of smartphone navigation, you can wax poetic about the good old days when pilgrims carried nothing but a skein of water and the cloaks on their backs…but to what end?

This is our world.

There is asphalt that wears down our joints. There are trains that travel many times faster than our feet. There is social media and multiculturalism and sturdy trekking gear.

One thing has not changed.

Us.

We still walk on two feet (when we choose).

We still require food and water to survive—for now.

We still seek—relentlessly—to create meaning in our lives.

That is why, I believe, an ancient rite like the Camino de Santiago still makes sense. In spite of this modern world and modern landscape. Maybe because of it.

It is not just possible, but perhaps necessary to walk the same paths we have walked for centuries. Maybe that connection is the ritual we’re seeking.<

What do you think?

Continue reading
Related posts
The Floating Pirate Community you always wanted to Join is Real… & it has a Name
September 23, 2018
No One is Talking about God (Poetry)
August 22, 2018
Wanderlusters: Running Away Doesn’t Work. (But Run Anyway!)
July 11, 2018
Africa

10 Hours in Nairobi (Airport!)

Final Destination: Jinja, Uganda—the mouth of the Nile

Tuesday, 12 April, 2016—Nairobi, Kenya

The New York Times may have all the tips for how to spend your 36-hour weekend in Nairobi, but you only need 10 hours to enjoy all the delights of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport!

It’s going to be a long day, so wear comfortable shoes. The following is only a sample itinerary—feel free to craft your own.
5:50 a.m. Early bird gets the worm and all that. Arrive at Nairobi airport from whatever your previous port of embarkment may be. Drink in the fresh morning air (but please, not the water) and stumble toward your connecting flight. 
(Note: This is best enjoyed on minimal rest, so try not to sleep too much on your red eye.)
7:15 a.m. Pole pole (slowly), friends. Delays are normal, especially with Kenya Airways. The Avanti Cafe on the ground floor has reasonably priced tea and friendly and sympathetic staff. (They’ve heard your story before; don’t bother.)
Savor your mediocre latte and partake of the only free wifi in NBO. Don’t miss the sights: Watching disgruntled tourists aimlessly milling about in growing impatience is one of the unique pleasures of the airport experience.
8:15 a.m. Board your flight and prepare for take-off. Don’t worry, your day’s not over that quickly—we’re just going for a quick aerial tour of the beautiful city of Nairobi.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the view on your 10-minute cruise above Kenya. “Technical issues” are just an official way of saying, “please don’t leave yet, Nairobi airport has so much more to offer.” 
9:35 a.m. Make good use of an hour on the ground before deplaning, and get to know your fellow adventurers. Enjoy a stale, rubbery apology croissant, courtesy of the airline, too. You’ll need your fuel; we still have 6 hours to go! You may also like to observe the unloading of your luggage, which was heading toward your final destination just minutes before.
10:50 a.m. Experience extreme disorganization first-hand. Join the pack, and wander confusedly from gate to gate, really getting to know the twists and turns of the Nairobi airport. Intimate knowledge like this is rare for the average tourist; you may even have time to peruse the least authentic curio shops in all of Kenya.
11:25 a.m. Head to Table 49 for a classic airport dining experience. As you sample your chocolate-cardboard muffin and piping hot tea, you may appreciate the opportunity to practice your Italian, French, Swahili or German language skills with some of the other diners—this is an international airport, after all.
12:10 p.m. Wave goodbye to some of your new friends as they head to the next (now fully booked) flight, then get to know some of the airline staff as they place you on the next one—5 hours later.

12:45 p.m. Why not head back to the unsurpassed Avanti Cafe for another visit? After all, no one has given you any free water, and you’re probably thirsty. Browse through Facebook, and daydream about arriving at your destination before dark.

1:25 p.m. Stroll upstairs to Table 49 for another complimentary meal. Totally edible chicken, rice and spinach, and a bottle of water to boot! Enjoy getting to know the remaining stranded passengers from the morning, and observe the effect that sleep deprivation may have on your conversational skills (hint: they improve).
2:55 p.m. Meander down those gray, expressionless airport terminal hallways one last time before you have to leave. Join the desperate crowd at gate 15, and since you’re early, why not finish up your conversations with your new friends.
3:50 p.m. Get on that plane, friends, it’s time to fly. Cross your fingers that your checked baggage makes it on with you, and settle in for a nap—you’ll need it. Safari njema (safe travels)!

***
In complete seriousness, as desperately long and painfully disorganized as my unplanned, extended layover in Nairobi was, I don’t think I’ve ever had as many conversations, in as many languages, with as many strangers, in one day. We were all looking out for each other, united in common misfortune and misery—which, miserable as it was, was also pretty cool.
And, it’s always better to laugh. Running on 3 hours of sleep and very disappointed to be spending my day off in an airport—instead of with friends in Uganda—I quickly found the entire situation completely absurd, and I had to laugh.
You have to laugh.
Frustration is useless, especially in airports, and a bit of humor can make a bleak day far more bearable.

So, enjoy your next visit to the Nairobi Airport, and let me know if you want any more tips—I’m probably an expert now.

***

Update: In Jinja, Uganda now, visiting some friends I haven’t seen since a year ago in Kenya, and enjoying some much-needed R and R. My checked luggage, if you were wondering, miraculously made it here, too!

***

Continue reading
Related posts
What is Transformational Travel, Really?
October 23, 2018
The Floating Pirate Community you always wanted to Join is Real… & it has a Name
September 23, 2018
Choose Power: A Dream-Inspired Thought Experiment
June 12, 2018
Africa

Minibus Freedom: On Risk and Reward

Stand-Up Paddleboarding (well, kneel-up paddleboarding) in Smitswinkel Bay.

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t…”
The sun beats down on my left arm, and the wind blows strong from the sea. I watch waves break and sparkle offshore as my minibus taxi races down the coastal road from Hout Bay to Cape Town.
The views are magnificent. Breathtaking. Spectacular.
Although, my fellow passengers seem desensitized to the sight, for which we pay 12 rand ($0.75) each.
South African music blasts from the speakers, a mix of African polyrhythmic beats, electronic pulse and gospel-like vocals. The driver skips tracks on the mix CD—yup, mix CD—as he holds a cell phone in the other hand, seemingly impervious to the perils of this endeavor.
These minibus taxis—cheaper and faster than a regular bus, and far cheaper than a cab—evoke a sense of freedom that their more staid (and safer) counterparts do not. Diverse rhythms, accents and languages swirling in my ear, unfettered ocean wind in my hair, shimmer of merciless heat in the air, my senses tingle, come alive to welcome the spectrum of experience on offer.
It is more than physical freedom, though that is part of it. (By now I know the fastest, car-less route to just about anywhere I want to go in Cape Town.) It is more than the speed and ease of movement, more than the volume of wind and music, and more than the independence of needing to rely on no one to go wherever I please.
No, if I am honest with myself—and you—there is another kind of freedom epitomized by these minibus journeys, which eclipses all the others.
It is the freedom of choosing my own risks.

Cape Town has huge populations of great white sharks in its waters, but that doesn’t
stop dozens of surfers, paddleboarders and swimmers from getting out there every day.
I’m not talking about risk-seeking behavior here. Rather, I believe most of us take most of our risks unconsciously. We drive our cars, smoke our cigarettes, drink our six packs of beer, eat our pesticide-laden food—that is, dance with our proverbial devils—all the while pretending, or perhaps believing, that our existence is safe. Secure. Unthreatened.
I have written about this before, but maybe never so explicitly.
I believe it is because we tend to ignore risk (or rather, complacently engage in it) where it is an accepted norm, that consciously, actively choosing our risks can inspire such a deep sense of freedom.
People ask me, how can you hitchhike, take the minibus taxis, travel alone, go out alone, [fill-in-the-blank] as a woman, a foreigner, a young person, a small person? Aren’t you scared?
Aren’t you scared when you cross the street, go to the mall, eat your food, send your children anywhere alone, smoke your cigarette, drive your car? How can you be a human being in this world—frail, feeble, mortal, vulnerable—day after day after day?
That is, essentially, the question you are asking me.
Better the devil we know. Better the risk we acknowledge.
There is risk everywhere. We are never safe. We are weak, mortal, vulnerable to the vagaries of the world every day of our lives.
Yet, we cross the street. We live anyway.
I know the risks I take, and I choose them willingly, because the benefits (ah, the benefits, story for another time) far outweight them.
The other side of the street; the end of the dance; the other side of risk?
It’s worth it.
On one level, my choices bring me joy, full-bodied experience, and inspiration

But if you wanted to get philosophical about it, each time I choose my own risks, I also acknowledge and make peace with my own mortality—and that is a powerful freedom, indeed.

Smitswinkel Bay.

***


Continue reading
Related posts
What is Transformational Travel, Really?
October 23, 2018
Don’t Ask me where I’m From, Ask me where Home Is
September 6, 2018
No One is Talking about God (Poetry)
August 22, 2018
stressful
Africa, Travel Advice

Why Travel Should Be Stressful

The journey from Diani Beach (South Coast, Kenya) to Kilifi (North Coast) by public transport is long, sweaty and chaotic. (Indeed, going just about anywhere in Kenya is all of these things.)

It involves a matatu(bus) to the main road, and another to almost-Mombasa. Each is filled to capacity, quite likely blaring rap music or Kenyan pop, and located only by navigating an insistent throng of taxi drivers, hangers-on of indeterminate employment and buses bound for every direction.

A ferry packed end-to-end crosses into Mombasa proper—a sort-of island linked on most sides by bridges–and then, with luck, a coach bus may be waiting at the other side, saving an extra ride to the station. A man stands at the top of the ramp from the water shouting, “,Malindi-Kilifi-Malindi-Kilifi-Malindi-Kilifi,”without pause. In the crush of the crowd, one could hardly understand him.

And it’s not over yet. The bus will let off in Kilifi Town, a 15+ minute tuk tuk ride from the Creek, and the Distant Relatives Ecolodge.

We made this journey just over a month ago, and I have since settled into the easy tranquility of the lodge, the nearby beach and the comfortable isolation of the place. When I do go into town—relatively laid back when compared to Nairobi—I am thrown off by the sudden return to chaos, stares, noise and confusion.

Thinking back to that trip from Diani, as well as the much longer odyssey from Western Kenya, I recall the sweat trickling down my spine as I sat wedged between two ample-sized women in the back row of a matatu, the weight of my purse on my thighs an added layer of heat. I remember the stillness of the air on the coach bus waiting for traffic to clear, the noise of the speakers just above my head, the inescapable midday sun over the ferry and the coating of grime that covered my skin by the time we reached Kilifi. And that was only a few hours.

But that is, I believe, an essential part of travel.

Comfortably ensconced in the coastal paradise I currently call home, I feel a decided aversion to the unpleasant harassment and disorder of going into town. I contemplate another day of bus journeys, sweat-soaked clothing and dirt-covered hair with reluctance. I am loathe to invite back the arguments and anxiety that naturally accompany reams of buses, unfamiliar routes and missed stops.

But, if I left all that out of the equation, where would the challenge be?

Stress has always, always been an inconsequential—yet, paradoxically, fundamental—footnote to my travels. Bumbling through Italy with my family—utterly lost; wandering the streets of Istanbul with my best friend, utterly lost; scouring Kolkata for a guest house alone, utterly lost. Anxiously running to catch trains; bartering for taxis, tuk tuks, motorcycles, often walking instead in stubborn frustration; searching for addresses, waiting for rides or fruitlessly seeking a quiet corner to regroup—stress and adrenaline saturating my blood.

None of it is fun, and most of it gets pushed to the sidelines of our and rose-toned memories of voyages and adventures. But it is all travel.

That stress means I am stretching the limits of my comfort zone, crossing boundaries and pushing myself to be both stronger and more pliant. No, I don’t like it, and sometimes I allow it to get the best of me, but stress should be a (manageable, eventually forgettable) part of travel.

If travel isn’t just a little stressful at times, and all-out infuriating at others, then what is it? Because if it’s too easy, then it isn’t challenging; and if it isn’t challenging, then I’m not learning or growing as much as I could.

I’ll take sweat, stress and anxious searching over stagnation any day… When’s my next bus ride?

Continue reading
Related posts
Co-Living is More than a Buzzword—it’s a Lifestyle
February 12, 2019
What is Transformational Travel, Really?
October 23, 2018
The Floating Pirate Community you always wanted to Join is Real… & it has a Name
September 23, 2018
Africa

The Dhow

[The following is an adaptation of a piece I recently published at elephant journal, “Facing Fear in Handstand.” Or maybe the piece in elephant is an adaptation of this, as this is a near exact excerpt from my travel journal. Either way, enjoy!]

***

I swim to the Dhow—a traditional Arab/East African (/originally Chinese?!) sailing vessel—anchored in Kilifi Creek. I alternate between front and back crawl, and though it only takes a couple minutes, it feels much longer, as is always the case with swimming.

The Dhow (named musafir, Arabic for traveller) is unfinished. Three years in the making, the boat has a bit of work remaining. The deck boards wobble and gape in places.

The ship’s builder, a Frenchman with a feather in his dreads, is leaving when I arrive. I hoist myself up the rope ladder that dangles into the water, then he lets himself down into a waiting dingy.

Alone now, save for a snoozing workman at the bow, I make my way to a single plank of wood jutting out at the back of the boat and sit down. The four o’clock sun is still hot on my skin; it dries the seawater on my arms, leaving a salty film.

I think about jumping into the water, but delay a while yet. I watch, fascinated, the journey of a single fish. He looks like a seahorse stretched out flat: long, pointy snout, eyes on the side of his equestrian head, mint green and brown body, undersized blue tail fin. He plies the water two meters below my feet.

A dog barks from shore and reminds me I have something to do.

I probably stand on that wooden plank a full five minutes thinking. Thinking how I could just climb back down the rope ladder, but I won’t. Because I have something to prove. Not to anyone else—the small beach is deserted—but to myself. Thinking how I feel the need to jump off boats and bridges precisely because it scares me so.

Some people will always turn back to the rope ladder, but I am no longer one of them, I think. I have decided to be “fearless.” A better word, however, might be “fear-defying.” I refuse to abide by my fears.

I am thinking how fearlessness, or courage, rather, is not the absence of fear. It is doing things anyway. I hope I always will.

And I jump, of course. The water is warm-cool after the heat of the sun, and it rearranges itself effortlessly around my body.

And of course, the jump is a non-event. Nothing of note has happened, and yet I am pleased enough to write all about it. I swim back to shore with a smile on my face. It’s the little things, after all…

***
Continue reading
Related posts
What is Transformational Travel, Really?
October 23, 2018
The Floating Pirate Community you always wanted to Join is Real… & it has a Name
September 23, 2018
Don’t Ask me where I’m From, Ask me where Home Is
September 6, 2018
Travel Advice

How to Take the Bus Everywhere

Jesus travels… and so can you!
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise… there is always another way to get there.
In October, I visited my parents in Shanghai (their home base at the moment). Day two of my trip, I took an afternoon to explore on my own, wandering the tiny alleys of Tianze Feng, in and out of stores selling tins of tea and other adorably packaged goods.
I have a “taxi card” to return—a business card with the name and address of my parents’ residence written in Mandarin and English. Taxis are cheap. Simple.
But then, naturally, there’s a catch: I cannot, for the life of me, catch a cab. I stand first on one street corner of the main road by Tianze Feng, then on the divider between lanes, next on another corner. 
Most of the passing cars already carry passengers, while other drivers seem to be intentionally avoiding my gaze. The afternoon shadows grow longer as I watch one Chinese shopper after another run to intercept an incoming car. There are people crowded on all sides; traffic moves at around 60 km/hour; I am never fast enough.
Finally, someone does stop, but when he looks at my card he shakes his head and drives off. Does he not feel like going there, or can he not read the card? I will never know.
Meanwhile, I have seen at least 20 public buses pass me by. I know I need to go *that way.* New plan…
I think it really is possible to take the bus nearly anywhere and everywhere—if you want to. Here’s how:
Step 1: Learn the word for “bus” and/or the proper pronunciation of the place you wish to go.
In Shanghai, it took showing my taxi card to several people to learn to say the name of my parents’ road: Nanjing Shu-Lu.
In Kenya, buses are “matatus,” and knowing that makes them a lot easier to ask for.

Sometimes there might be a boat involved… even better!!
Step 2: Find the bus stop.
In many places, there will be a physical structure, replete with maps, schedules and names. In many others, there will be nothing but a small sign bearing the image of a bus—or nothing but a crowd of people standing at the side of the road.
Ask people for the *bus* to [fill in the blank] until you find your stop. In my experience, other bus drivers and shop keepers are the best people to ask, and most likely to know the buses in the area, while taxi drivers are the worst, since they have ulterior motives.
In Shanghai, I was lucky enough to find an old woman who understood my question, and knew that the 42 bus would take me to the right place.

Or you can do this.

Step 3: Catch your bus.
It might stop automatically, or it might barrel past if you don’t flag it down. A sign bearing a name or number may tell you it is the right bus, or it might be a skinny man hanging from the window, calling out the destination.
I usually like to confirm at least a couple times that it is indeed the right bus, as I have ended up on the wrong bus far too often.
Step 4: Revel, and ignore the funny looks.
Depending on where you are, you might well be the only obvious foreigner on the bus. People will stare. It will get old. Just do your thing and try not to do anything egregious—appropriate dress and conduct is always a good call.
Revel in being on your way to where you’re trying to go! There is truly no better feeling than the surprise of success after a stressful search!

If your bus looks like this, wait for the next one.

Step 5: Pay.
Often, fare will be collected at some point along your journey—or upfront, or upon arrival. Try to pay attention to how much other passengers are paying to avoid a high “tourist tax.” But if you do end up paying a few cents—or dollars—more, well, the tourist tax is real. I’m sorry.
Step 6: Arrive.
Chaos, confusion and disorientation may accompany your arrival… sweat, frustration and elation, too. One thing I can almost guarantee: you will arrive having spent less money. A second thing: it gets easier with practice.
I love taking the bus. Despite the dust. Despite the confusion, often frustrating and hectic. Despite everything. Because the bus is always an adventure. Always. And that’s kind of the point.
Need to make a connection? Repeat steps 1-5. Chances are, someone on your first bus will be able to point you to your next one, or even lead you there.
“Trunk-seat” heading out of Mbita, Kenya a few days ago.

Enjoy the adventure!
Continue reading
Related posts
Co-Living is More than a Buzzword—it’s a Lifestyle
February 12, 2019
What is Transformational Travel, Really?
October 23, 2018
The Floating Pirate Community you always wanted to Join is Real… & it has a Name
September 23, 2018
Uncategorized

This Blog Post is Slumped Against the Bathroom Wall

This blog post is slumped against the bathroom wall like a drunk sorority girl on Saturday night.
This blog post is camping out at the Madrid Barajas International Airport for the next 12 hours.
This blog post isn’t wearing any underwear.
This blog post is afraid of the rain… which is why this blog post is stuck at the only café in Terminal 1 where it is apparently forbidden to lie down.
This blog post was disappointed to discover that the only source of power in the entire Estacion Intermodal de Almeria resided in the women’s restroom.
This blog post ate digestives and coffee for breakfast at 6am, purchased with centimos.
This blog post will continue wearing these clothes (perhaps with a change of underwear) for another 24 hours, because this blog post is the virtual incarnation of honey badger.
This blog post brushes its teeth in public bathrooms.
This blog post is running out of free wifi, and, furthermore, is rather irritated by the lack of free wifi at airports worldwide.
This blog post is going to Kenya.
This blog post is the unglamorous side of travel: sleep-deprived, hemmed in by bad weather, and rough around the edges. But you know what? This blog post doesn’t mind.

…This blog post needs more water…
~

My most recent home: Murtas, Spain

Continue reading
Related posts
What is Transformational Travel, Really?
October 23, 2018
Don’t Ask me where I’m From, Ask me where Home Is
September 6, 2018
Wanderlusters: Running Away Doesn’t Work. (But Run Anyway!)
July 11, 2018
Asia

The Journey that Wouldn’t End to the Edge of the World


 This is truly the edge of the world.  I know I have written those words before, but I never felt them so avidly to be true as I did on Tuesday morning, my first day in Mustang, Nepal.  The bus from Jomosom (elevation 2720m) to Kagbeni (2850m) rounded a bend in what my map calls a “jeepable gravel road” and  I caught my first full view of one of the most spectacularly empty landscapes I have ever seen.  None of the passengers (mostly pilgrims bound for the holy temple at Muktinath, several hours and a thousand meters farther) seemed the least bit concerned when our “road” passed directly through rivers and careened over small boulders.  I too have become accustomed to this specialty of road travel in Nepal.  My ten new Nepali friends, young business-owners from the south of the country also heading to Muktinath, sang along boisterously to the Nepali folk pop playing from the speakers.  We had stayed up late the night before drinking apple bandy (a Mustang specialty) and talking about “our culture” (as difficult to define in Nepal as it is in the U.S.).  The ticket-taker, whose three-day-old beard gave him a more rugged appearance than the average, never lifted his gaze from the open door and the rising dust beyond it.
View of Kagbeni from above.
At the junction to Muktinath, I alighted, shook hands with my friends, said goodbye, and turned to take in my new home.  Kagbeni’s ancient stone buildings, testament to the important place the town once held along the salt trade routes from India to Tibet, apple trees, and new solar panels lay beneath me, the Kali Gandaki River, quite low now in the dry season, winding alongside.  Beyond, in every direction, stretched golden mountains, cliffs and canyons— nothing but rock and dust and thorny shrubs invisible to my naked eye.  Beyond that, gray and white snow peaks and an unblemished turquoise sky.  The wind blew dust into my hair and face.  Exhilarated, awed, and entirely alone, I felt like laughing aloud.
The journey from Kathmandu to Kagbeni took three days.  I traveled the first day from Kathmandu to Pokhara (810m), an 8 hour bus ride, which was dwarfed by the three buses I took the next day to Jomosom, rattling and dusty the whole 12 hours.  Finally, around 9:30 a.m. on day three, the journey I thought would never end—wearisome and devoid of any glamor—deposited me ten minutes above Kagbeni.  Alone, looking out at a village that might have been entirely forgotten if not for its placement along the Annapurna Circuit trek, I felt completely in my element in this wild land at the edge of the world.
Kagbeni seen from a two-hour hike up.

Sunset in Pokhara (Photo credit Marcelo Ogata)

 ~
I’m picking up some very strange speech patterns these days, a byproduct of never speaking English with native speakers.  My Nepali-lish is getting excellent use—I managed a twenty minute conversation the other day! Long pauses accounted for about half of it, I think.  I will be in Kagbeni for another ten days or so, doing research on tourism, tourists, ethnic identity, etc. If you want to know more about that side of things ask me about it… I could go on for a while, but I won’t here.
Continue reading
Related posts
What is Transformational Travel, Really?
October 23, 2018
The Floating Pirate Community you always wanted to Join is Real… & it has a Name
September 23, 2018
Wanderlusters: Running Away Doesn’t Work. (But Run Anyway!)
July 11, 2018