Thoughts and reflections on the slow world traveler moving across continents and into countries and settling into someone else’s culture.
That feeling when everything is new and unknown once again. It’s like that feeling a reader gets when the book is finished, and starting a new one is hopelessly hard. The attachment to the book afterwards is beyond what you realised while in the moment of reading. The book lingers in the mind as you’ve created relationships with the place and its characters. It’s the same for the traveler when faced with another country and culture: excitement and anticipation is replaced with the reality of new people, new food, new map; different society, different language, different norms. The mind is startled, almost fearfully anxious, of letting the previous place and people go and embracing the something new. Everything has been changed in the blink of an eye. There are no answers yet to the questions that keep flowing out from a traveler’s mind:
How does life work here?
What are they saying?
Who will be helpful?
What can we see and do?
When will I feel confident again?
But this exact time in a traveler’s journey is one of the finest opportunities to expand and stretch the personal comfort zone and face the illusionary fears that seem to be all around: the unknown, nameless, alien, changed.
I keep reminding my young backpacking children that I call this stage of the travel journey a process of collection. Start by collecting experiences; trying little things out even when there is a real possibility of failure. Walk down the street not knowing what you’re wanting to see. Get lost and ask people how to get back. Sit down and be with yourself absorbing everything around you – what do you see, hear, smell, feel? Be with a new country and start understanding it even without knowing it. Piece by piece the jigsaw puzzle image will form. It’s the greatest way of finding your path.
This process is not instantaneous but it’s definitely magical. It will take a week or so of time to rummage through the uncomfortable space of the ‘unknown’ (the perks of being a slow traveler means we have this time available). And when one can be at home, or at ease, with the uncomfortable beginnings, that’s when progress starts without really noticing it. By adopting snippets of our new Spanish culture as our own, we slowly but surely adapt our startled mindsets out of the known Indian culture that we were used to for three months.
Always be patient dear traveler. Start with the basics – greet with a smiling hola and leave with a grateful gracias. Keep an open mind and a traveler’s heart always.
This is all part of the beautiful journey of being an explorer of the world, being a global citizen, and where we will experience the most growth and development of our minds and our hearts from this one simple lesson of travel.
Note to readers:
Snippets of Spain will form a new series of blog posts that will give you a more creative insight into our travels throughout Spain over six weeks. Hope you enjoy and please send me your feedback about the new series of posts.