A Travellers Diary. The Simon Travel Files, Part One: Central America
1 month down on a quarter life hiatus, and it feels like a long time I’ve been away but then at the same time it feels as if it was only just yesterday that I had boarded that first flight. I wanted to use this blog to first of all let you know that I am safe, alive and in full health… although the fact that every day is a holiday for me at the moment lends itself quite nicely to a few beers or glasses of wine most nights and the 7-8 hours surfing every day does take it’s toll, but otherwise healthy. The other reasons I wanted to write this all down is because whilst I sit here in relative paradise with nothing but blue skies and offshore winds all day since being here, I have learnt to appreciate a few simple things from back home and learnt some lessons that I would like to share.
Now I thought that this would be the easy part. I thought for the last 3-4 years since I had the initial idea of a long hiatus that I would be able to pack up a couple of bags and hit the road with no backward looks. However I have now learnt differently. Whilst it sounds like a dream to have 7-8 months of time away from home travelling to remote places and immersing yourself in new cultures I think in reality, it is actually much harder than just doing that. I chose to travel solo; something I had always thought would benefit me in terms of life experience and putting myself out of my comfort zone. Boy, oh boy, did it put me out of my comfort zone. When you are at that departure gate saying goodbye to those you love and turn that corner out of sight it suddenly starts to hit you that you are going to be feeling a lot of loneliness in the short term. I had never been to any of the countries I was travelling to and didn’t know a single person there either. So for me, what I thought would be the easiest part, turned out to be the hardest part so far.
Meeting New People
Now on the flipside of loneliness is the seeking out of new friends, and by being out of your comfort zone when travelling solo I realised that chatting to people on planes, busses, trains and meeting people in lines or hostels etc. was really quite easy if you just smiled and put yourself out there. Whilst there are obvious language barriers and differences in social conventions, I have found that a smile on your face is the universal language and it becomes infectious, people react to it well. So far I have met some wonderful people, from all over the world and each has their own story. Some remind me of a lot of my friends at home. The biggest thing I have enjoyed about meeting the range of people I have is starting to understand more about the variety of cultures around. A simple example of this is If you sit in a hostel kitchen and watch how many different ways a person can cook the same style of meal.
Living Out of a Backpack
I would imagine this is the most frustrating part for most backpackers. The thought of having to carry around, unpack, re-pack and move on to the next spot continually makes me cringe. You do get bloody good at figuring out a system and how best to use those skills of my primary school days playing tetris to maximise space and efficiency. The other thing I realised, and this may just be me, living in a pair of boardies mostly is that you always pack more than you need. Regardless whether that was a weekend away down south when in Perth or this long trip it has confirmed that you never need as much as you take.
Staying Fit, Strong and Mobile
This is a real challenge. Luckily for me it isn’t a case of lacking any exercise because the surf all day, everyday is really keeping my cardiovascular fitness and general health up and going. However if you weren’t a surfer and were trying to keep a level of fitness, many of the places when travelling, especially the less developed places, are difficult to go out for a run or do hill sprints etc. whether that’s because of danger being out alone or just no actual roads… its tough! The harder part for me has been A) finding the time in amongst exploring and holidaying to keep up some base strength stuff and B) find a suitable and comfortable space or environment to sit down and keep your mobility up. Stay tunes because I will have some videos of the creative ways I have go some strength and mobility work done so far, maybe even a mobility Monday edition at some point also ;)
No Place Like Home
In every moment I am away from home I have a building appreciation for how good we have it in Perth. I have been to some unbelievable places so far on this trip, remote castaway type islands with nothing but palm trees lining the beaches or bussing across mountain ranges to get to the other side of the country. However I would never trade that in for North Beach, I am yet to see water as clear and sand as white as it is down there. The ability to walk along west coast highway barefoot without having to worry about stepping on rubbish, glass or rocks because of how well it is kept. It saddens me to see these developing countries with so much rubbish and no one doing anything about it. Most definitely though, I realise that the people around me at home in Perth are pretty special! There is definitely no place like Home!
I am looking forward to the adventure ahead of me and have really enjoyed the past month. I will endeavour to keep you all updated with some stories and lessons at a point in the future. Wishing all my family, friends and Clients back home all the best and a big hello from Panama!
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