Category Archives: Travel

Shit I Learned About Peruvian Elections

About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to be in the county’s capital city for the recent elections. They weren’t for the big job, the president, but for all of the governors and regional representatives around the country. Without getting into the nitty gritty, there were a few very interesting things I learned while being in the country during this period.

1. Everybody seems to get involved.

And by everybody, I mean mostly the elderly representatives of the country. They are out, they have their signs, they are protesting until they are hoarse. Many of them have their houses painted with political propaganda to show their support for their candidates. Candidates also paint any free standing structure they can get their paintbrushes on including cliff faces, gutters, bridges, you name it. The thing is, these people remember a time when things were much worse than they are now, so they are heavily on it with protests and campaigns.

2. To vote you have to be in the jurisdiction of where you vote.

Unlike with other countries, if you’re registered in Cusco and currently in Lima for work, you cannot vote. To vote, you have to be in the actual region where you are registered and go into a specific office that they allocate you for voting. That means on voting weekend, transport and booking buses is a nightmare because if you don’t vote, you get fined. It is compulsory.

3. There are political parties, and then there are political parties.

You will see many symbols down the road for different political parties that people are representing in Peru, such as the Maicitos, Somos Peru etc. but of more interest to me as a foreignor were the actual parties. In the lead up to elections in an attempt to convince you of their awesomeness, candidates will have street parties. One blocked off our road in the middle of a tour to Chavin as they were handing out free chicken, rice and potatoes off the back of the truck to all who came and sat in the square to listen to the propaganda. This is mild campaigning.  Some take it to a whole new level.

Back in Huaraz, an entire hostel of very shitty people trying to sleep for trekking at five am, were enduring a party in the middle of the street attended by about twenty people with flags. Why was this a problem? Because they had a stage with a ten piece band that had been playing from 1pm until 11pm and at that stage still weren’t looking at stopping, despite a crazy English girl in the hostel hanging her head out the window and abusing them in Spanish for their lack of consideration of others.

I went briefly to investigate this fiasco while on the hunt for food and discovered that not only was there a band, but they had back up dancers in g-strings and I could see what they ate for breakfast. My sensitive western ways wanted to blindfold and cover the eyes of all small children everywhere to protect them from the sexually provocative images being promoted to urge people to vote for this clearly above board chap. But then, maybe I’m just a prude.

However you look at it, they aren’t campaigning with good values in mind, well most of them…. So what values are they campaigning for?

4. Politicians in Peru earn a shit ton of money.

I have it on authority from a local that many of these low level politicians can be earning as much as $8000 USD a month!?! Yep. That’s even more than most westerners earn and we’re talking about a country where the minimum income is a bit over $200 USD a month. So despite not knowing what you’re doing, you ain’t really got a whole lot to lose by running for parliament. As it was, in the area of central Lima alone, there were over 450 candidates running. No wonder people have no idea who to vote for and no wonder it winds up being a shit show.

5. Roadworks tend to increase when elections are called.

An insight from a friend’s Peruvian mum is thatroadworks always start happening when elections are on. For two reasons. Firstly it is the most blatantly obvious way to point out to people that something is getting done. Because hey have to deal with it every day.

Secondly, because based on a survey of the average cost of a kilometre of road around the world, the cost of road in Peru is approximately three times larger than that of road in Europe. One has to wonder where exactly that money is going, and one can also take a pretty good guesstimate that it is going straight into the coffers of those in fear of not being re-elected. You know, saving for a rainy day, when your opportunity to steal from the general population disappears….. Last minute panic.

About a month on and everything seems to have settled back to normal. The houses are still painted and there are still billboards and advertisements everywhere, but the hype has definitely settled and it is back to business as usual. Less roadworks, as they have now started to steadily cease. And backpackers everywhere rejoice because they can sleep without the noisiest of campaigns happening outside their windows.

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Shit I Am Going To Have To Relearn Going Home

Travelling through developing countries is a whole other world compared to the cushiness that you experience living in a country like Australia. For the last year or so, I have developed habits that I daresay are going to follow me around for a while. Some of the things that I am going to have to relearn when going home are as follows:

  1. Toilet paper belongs in a toilet, not a rubbish bin

It is fair to say that plumbing here is fairly shit. So shit in fact that if you throw toilet paper in the toilet and clog it up, you’re facing more shit than you could ever dream of. After my very first trip to Asia, I came wandering into the kitchen of my flat with my toilet paper and my housemate asked me what the fuck I was doing. That is a superb question really. After a year and a couple of months of this, it is going to be a hard habit to break.

2. Taking toilet paper with you everywhere you go

Because they bloody well don’t provide it anywhere. And if you’re lucky to get charged for a toilet that actually has paper you can be sure that they will give you four squares and look at you strange because you ask for more. The truth is, if you’re a woman peeing, you need more, sometimes that shit sprays. If you’re a woman on your period, four squares is also definitely not cutting it. And if you are anyone taking a shit, especially diarrhoea, a measly four squares isn’t going to do the job. As such, you find yourself resorting to the following; stealing napkins from restaurants you eat lunch at, or sitting on a hostel toilet with a cardboard roll and rolling that thing full of paper for ten minutes and then trying to sneak it out of the bathroom down your pants so that nobody sees you.

3. Toilets with actual plastic seats

Long gone will be the days of sitting your arse directly on a cold porcelain bowl or trying to squat over it because someone has kindly pissed all over it and hasn’t cleaned it up due to their lack of access to sufficient toilet paper.

4. You can drink water from the tap without having to boil or purify it.

The days of pouring yourself a glass of water from the tap ended long ago. The constant need to think about where you are going to source your water from and how you are going to purify it is a constant thought process. As one that hates constantly buying plastic bottles from shops as it is bad for the environment, planning for water is a constant thought that I will not have to worry about.

5. I do not need to keep and do surgeries on things that are broken

Everything I own is somehow broken. But when you have no money and having new things isn’t a priority, makeshift fixing is high on the list, when in ordinary life you would just throw it away. Surgeries that have been conducted on this trip include:

  • Using a hot metal spoon over fire to melt the plastic back together of my neck pillow
  • Duct taping around the strap of my backpack to try and hold it together long enough to get me home
  • Sewing holes in the crotches of my pants with patches
  • Wearing a garbage bag as a poncho because your rain jacket is totalled and no longer waterproof
  • Sticky-taping the screen of my iPad together so that the glass doesn’t fall out
  • Using stickytape to hold your shoelaces together so that they don’t fall apart
My engineering mate helping out with neck pillow surgery.

6. Using a telephone.

Broke the awful thing that had no battery life on the kitchen floor of my flat in Colombia….. yeah I don’t need another one of those. These days I function with good old fashioned paper maps and email. WhatsApp? What’s that?

7. Having keys

The current check is passport, wallet, water purifier, lip gloss. Keys don’t register in this because I haven’t had to deal with keys for a very long time. Incorporating them into the daily check is going to be interesting.

8. Sleeping in a room alone

When constantly sharing a room with up to twelve people having privacy is kind of weird. When you finally find yourself in a room alone you start freaking out because, well, where is everyone?

9. Sleeping in a double bed

That and you’re always in a single bed with a shitty mattress and pillow. I don’t know how I am going to survive fluffy doona covers and decent pillows. Life is going to be hard.

10. Not packing your bag everyday

This is a reality. Every single day, you pull shit out of the bag, you put shit back into the bag. You are on constant alert as to where everything you own is and trying to make sure that it is in a safe area where it won’t get mixed up with everyone else’s stuff. Watch out Mum, I’m spreading throughout the house.

11. Wearing nice clothes and doing hair and make up

Enough said. Some weeks, I don’t even look in a mirror. I don’t brush my hair. I never put on make up. I don’t care. All of my clothes have holes in them, are faded, and look like shit. It is going to take a bit of adjustment to get used to normal people clothes and feeling like I belong in them.

12. Not constantly saying goodbye to people

Of the most exciting things on this list, is that I will be able to keep in touch with people I meet. Saying goodbye constantly takes its toll and is something that I do on a daily basis. It makes you somewhat closed to meeting new people because you know that everyone is transient.

Well, five more weeks of this and then life changes. Until then, I better get back to brushing my teeth from the bottle and going to bed in my holey socks! Cheers!

 

Dear Boys of South America

For any of you who behave like real men, in a respectful and honest manner, then I am not talking to you. I do not have any problems with you whatsoever because many of you are lovely human beings that I have had fabulous interactions with. This letter is addressed to the “little boys”. The ones that haven’t grown up to realise their manners or civic responsibility. The ones who view women as property and objects and behave as though they are entitled because they were born with a Y chromosome. You. I’m talking to you. Because there are some things I would like you to know.

1. Honking your horn at me incessantly as you make your way down the street does not make me like you. It makes me annoyed. You are behaving like an ignored five year-old jumping up and down screaming “I’m here! I’m here!” Well guess what? That’s lovely, but I really don’t give a fuck. I give minus fucks when you are doing so with your girlfriend on the back of your motorbike or your mother.

2. Making comments about my appearance as I walk down the street whilst salivating all over your own chin is not a way to pick up women. It’s disgusting. You remind me of the salivating dogs in the street that roam around sniffing each others arses.

3. You are not entitled to touch my body because you have a Y chromosome. In fact, when I tell you to stop touching me, that does not translate to ‘please, put your hand on my boob or my vagina’.

4. Just because I am a solo, white, female traveller that is not married, does not mean that I want to marry you and I am here with the sole purpose of finding a husband. Unless you’re my old boss. Who is a man, by the way, and used to ask me every week as a joke. But at least he asked my name first and gave a shit about who I was as a person before he tried to put a ring on it (jokingly).

5. When I tell you I am not interested in talking to you, that is exactly what I mean. It does not mean that if you follow me down the street asking me questions that I am all of a sudden going to think to myself, ‘yeah, respectful human who respects the wishes of others by doing what they ask them to, I want to have a big long chat with that person’. Not going to happen.

6. I am not an object. I am not property that you can fight over or argue about. I am a person. I will do what I want, not what you decide for me among yourselves.

The truth is, I am sick of it. The amount of times I have been sexually harassed verbally and physically on this trip I cannot count on both my hands and my toes. Some of the stories would horrify you. And while there are some lovely and incredible men in this part of the world, the general culture of males here needs a serious looking at. As a western woman, this is confronting. What is more concerning is that to the women here, this is the normal. They accept this because it is such standard everyday fare. But it is not ok. And we need to make a united stand about how ‘not OK’ this is.

I know that currently in the world, there are many different cultures attacking this very issue. And progress is slow. It always is because it takes generations of good examples to raise respectful boys and nurture them into being respectful men. And when the constant example for every five year old boy is that yelling and screaming obscene shit at women down the street and touching them inappropriately is the standard thing to do, this is just going to continue to propagate. So please, boys, stop teaching your sons to behave like disrespectful arseholes and man up. Teach your sons how to be real men. Respectful. Considerate.

And to be honest, you are making it even more difficult for the nice guys who are respectful because I have gotten to the point where I assume that the majority of you men on the street are crotch-grabbing arseholes and I want to run away from all of you. I want to hide. I even felt uncomfortable laying on a beach the other day when I realised there weren’t many people around and there were three of you walking towards me. I was on high alert. This is not how I should feel in the middle of the day on a beach, and yet it is. Constantly on edge, constantly looking for who is around me and how to avoid people and situations, constantly getting ready to fight back. What a way to live in the world. Aren’t you lucky that you never have to think about these things?

But you know, I am a woman, and that is the price that I pay for being born with two X chromosomes. My genetic defect appears to give you rights that are so much more privileged than mine. But remember who grew you inside their body and then looked after you to make sure that you were alive in this world. That is right. Your mother. A woman. And just like every woman, she is having to deal with this shit too. Without women, you wouldn’t be here to behave like you do, so maybe you should show some more respect and stop behaving like such self-entitled, possessive and ignorant arseholes. So on behalf of all women in this world, man the fuck up, boys. I’ve had enough and so have the rest of the world’s women.

Thanks,

Dano

The Altitude Game

Let me start, for anyone who doesn’t know me, with a bit of history. Four years ago, I attempted to go to Everest Basecamp, but at 4,400m, after a day hike to acclimatise, I awoke in the middle of the night coughing up handfuls of water. I had pulmonary oedema, and I was a very sick girl.

Because of this, I have what I would consider a very healthy respect for altitude, because that kinda tends to happen when something nearly kills you. It was four years before I would go back to a high altitude again, and I won’t lie. It scares the shit out of me.

Many people ask why I still do it. And the fact is, I do it out of love. Some of the most amazing hiking in the world can be found at altitude. I am currently in Peru, and there would be so much that I would miss if I didn’t try. And that is the thing, I try.

Hiking was never something that came easy to me. Even when I was a kid, I was fit enough to dance six days a week and couldn’t run a lap around the oval. Even now, I could go ten three-minute rounds in a boxing ring and struggle to climb a steep hill. Anything that is a repetitive movement and hard work with the lower body, was something I always struggled with. Add to this now that I have scar tissue on my lungs and hiking a hill is an arduous task for me. It is something that I have to undergo in a somewhat meditative state. It is very, very slow. Constantly focused on my breathing and keeping it regulated. Constantly focused on trying to keep my heart rate down and just putting one foot in front of the other. I am like the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare. I will get there in the end, but I get there at a crawl.

My frustration in places like Huaraz, where I now currently stay, is other people. People breeze in, behave like they are experts, have no issues at all with altitude, give everyone advice like they know everything and trek their way up the hill so easy it’s like a piece of cake. I sat here the other day and listened to a group of people moan about having to go on a trip with “people that are just so slow. I mean, if you’re going to be slow, don’t come because you are just going to annoy everybody else because you can’t keep up with us.” I sat there and listened to entire group of people essentially bitch and moan about having to be placed on a trip with me, or people like me. And to be honest, it made me a little bit upset. This is not the first time I have heard it. I am sure it won’t be the last. But for all people out there with this attitude, I have something to say.

You don’t think at all about what you’re doing or the fact that you could be at high risk of sickness and possible death all the time. By the grace of genetics, you managed to skip the hell that many of us face with our bodies when confronted with less oxygen. You don’t consider that for some of us, this is one of the hardest things we will ever do. You especially don’t think about the courage it takes to stare death in the face and to then face that fear and to get back on the mountain because you have never, ever had to do it. You don’t think about how hard it is. It is acceptable, being awful to those that struggle. And yet despite all of the challenges that I face that you don’t know about or understand, I am there and I am doing it. It takes more courage than I could ever expect you to know.

You don’t think about what medications to take or how to balance them to make sure that you are ok, constantly fretting about side effects or what you can or cannot take, eat or drink with them. You go out for beers the night before and get drunk. Or how many days you need to stay somewhere to properly acclimatise because last time you got sick you didn’t have altitude sickness symptoms and that scares you even more because there is no warning sign that seriously potential problems are coming. You laugh, because its a silly game. But this isn’t a game to some of us. What you do think about is how much of an inconvenience people like me are to you on the mountain. As you do your best, I do mine with the disabilities I have been given. And yet you judge me for them and that hurts.

We are all so impatient in this world that we lack the patience required to understand and support the struggles of another. And if I am ever confronted with someone who struggles more than me I usually stay with them and coach them. Because the best thing we can offer is support and not judgement. And I know about judgement from the faces of every single person who looks at me with a face that says ‘she’s not going to make it’ that then turns into surprise when I do because they underestimate my will.

I am about to trial my prophylactic medication for the first time tomorrow. I am nervous. But if it works out for me, it opens more doors for things that I can potentially do. Some people call me crazy. I just feel determined. And yes, I am a little scared. But to be honest, I would be stupid not to be. If I wasn’t scared, I wouldn’t have a respect for the mountain. And that respect for the mountain makes me appreciate it and want it more than anyone. It makes my sense of achievement greater. Because with each small and slow step that I take, I am overcoming something that everyone tells me that I can’t or shouldn’t do. This is my journey. And I am doing it my way. Don’t even try to tell me I can’t or that I shouldn’t. Because if you do, like everyone else before you that has told me this, I will prove you wrong. That much I know. So you can moan and complain about having me on your trip all you like, but I am sticking my fingers in my ears and I am not listening. La, la, la. Because like it or not, I am doing it. And I’m doing it slow.

What I Reckon: Bus Bitches’ Bad Behaviour

Don’t ask me why. I am not entirely sure. But there generally is a sense of self-entitlement and lack of respect from Latina women on buses, that I have experienced across three countries now, that is driving me absolutely fucking insane.

When I am sitting next to you on a night bus, or any bus for that matter, I should not have to feel like I am fighting for my territory every step of the way. Such invasion of territory because you do not know how to sit in your fucking chair is ridiculous. Manners 1-0-fucking-1 people. It is like Patrick Swayze says in Dirty Dancing “This is my bus space, this is your bus space. You do not come into mine, I do not come into yours.” (Actually to be fair I think he was talking about ‘dance space’, but the same principle applies).

How a normal amd respectful person sits in a chair.

The following is a list of ways that you should not invade my bus space.

  1. With your arse

I like to call this “bum wars”. This is where said woman turns herself on her side, usually facing the window, pulls her feet up onto the chair or somewhere on the side wall and attempts to curl up and sleep. While doing this, she usually sticks her arse out so far that she, if you let her, winds up occupying at least half of your seat space. And don’t be fooled. This is her plan. She doesn’t give a fuck about you or your arse space. You are going to have to fight for every single inch of that arse space including, getting under it when she shifts weight and applying appropriate force in the opposite direction to reclaim your space. Be wary. She has the upper hand because she can leverage herself with her feet from the side wall. Hold strong. Flex that core. Endure those hip bruises (that I have actually gotten from engaging in bum wars) to show that bitch who is boss. This is my seat bitch. You will not take it from me!

Bum wars position. Notice how I’ve only left half a chair for my neighbour. This is not a respectful way to sit in your seat.

I remember a small victory that I had with one of the four women I have had to so far endure bum wars with. I held so fast onto my space that in the end she gave up and sat upright in her chair like you are supposed to sit in a fucking chair. And then she proceeded to put her feet all over the backs of chairs and all over the place. Win some, you lose some, but this was definitely an improvement.

2. With your elbows

Some bitch I wound up sitting next to last night on the night bus was establishing her territory right from the get go. Even by refusing to stand up and let me get into my seat. She made me crawl over the top of her while she loudly gossiped on the phone as if I were an inconvenience. This one also decided that she was entitled to my space with her elbow. Not only did she put her elbow on the armrest, this bitch had to hang her elbow several inches over the armrest into my ribs, which thus began ‘elbow wars’. And she knew what she was doing. Because when I pushed my arm down next to my ribs, still in my space, she continued to push back. And then I continued to push back, still within the confines of my seat. So then she decided to get with foot real estate by spreading her legs like a bro and having a war with my foot. The positive thing about being a young, fit, and strong individual with will power of the Gods is that I will out-fucking-hustle you with patience every fucking time. After about two hours, she gave up and retreated into her space for a while. But not before deciding that she wanted to again launch another assault in the form of raising her arms behind her head so that I now not only have to endure her fucking elbow in my face, but also the stench of her smelly armpit.

Also not a respectful way to sit in one’s chair. My elbow is occupying precious rib space of neighbours.

3. With your feet or legs

I get that sitting on a bus is not always comfortable. But just deal with it. This does not mean that you should stick your feet on the back of my chair space over my knees. Stick your feet on the person-in-front-of-you’s chair, and annoy them (unless I am the person sitting in front of you), but there is no need to cross your legs over into my fucking bus territory and invade my already small area with your stinky, infested feet.

This also stands from the view point of those that are so lazy that they can’t even sit in their seat and feel the need to lay down across three, the two in their space, then occupy the aisle, and then even better, but their stinky fucking toes in my bus space. “Hello! Sitting here, get your filthy fucking feet off me!”

Better yet, there are the bros who seem to think that their testicles resemble those of Randy’s on South Park when he microwaved them to give himself ball cancer and they got so big he couldn’t get through the front door. Just do a bit of a rearrange. You don’t see me sitting there with my arms spread out like I’m Jesus because I have giant boobs. Get over yourselves!

Sitting like a bro cause I have a misguided belief that I have bull-sized testicles.

Of course, the biggest problem with this is passive aggression. If you politely point out to someone that they are invading your space, they look at you like you are then the bitch and they then find other ways to invade your space or annoy you for a six-hour journey. And then if you choose aggression, aggression, be prepared for a fight because the Latina’s know how to get their bitch on. So instead, I choose to fight with patience and passive aggression, by holding fast to my areas in a way that will often wind up with them tiring out because they don’t have the strength of body and mind to keep the strong-hold. And if they even look like taking another part of my area, I launch another assault front with another part of my body to prevent them entering my territory. Eventually they will relent to the impenetrable walls of the Dano defence and maybe just for once, I can get some fucking sleep on a bus.

PS. To the one man who invaded my bus space because he was overweight. Yes, at first I was annoyed. But I realised later that there was nothing you could do about it and you tried your best. You even kept me warm in the frigid air conditioning by being a human radiator and offering to share your blankey with me. I’m ok with you. You’re a lovely and considerate human. If only now we can smack down on and teach the rest of the Bus Bitches some manners and the bus can be a wonderful place for all.

 

Stop being lazy and ignorant! Learn the Language!

It is a really sad thing when you come across people who have been travelling in a country for a substantial amount of time or have moved there to study and after three months of being in that country, they have made no effort whatsoever to learn any of the language. For me it is something that just happens. I am interested in it. I want to learn. While I don’t profess to be able to speak any languages fluently, I am quite proficient in Spanish after spending 8 months in Central America and then another 8 months in South America, where I returned to Spanish school to get my head around more of the culture and to be able to connect with more of the people here. I do not, like so many other, just expect that because I am a tourist, that you should have to learn English to speak to me. That to me is ultimate disrespect towards the people you have traveled to meet. Not even trying to meet them halfway in their own country, where I’m concerned, is downright rude.

Of recent times, I have travelled through several Arabic speaking countries and have had the locals teaching me how to say things in Arabic. Despite my limited amounts of things that I could say, most locals were amazed at how ‘excellent’ my Arabic was. And by amazing I mean ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘how much?’, ‘do you have change?’, ‘is it free?’, ‘don’t touch me’ and ‘pigs might fly’ among a few other silly phrases I would use to joke around with the locals. They would literally tell me ‘wow, you Arabic very excellent’. I guess this is quite a rarity for them. But these things enabled me to walk down the street and manage to order myself a kofte on my own and pay for it, and afforded me a form of independence from the group trip that I was on. Most of the others on the group trip looked at me like I was insane for even wanting to try. Too much effort.

Another language that I found super useful was learning some Indonesian. When heading into the wonderful world of Java, or anywhere outside of Bali to be honest, the English becomes limited. I have quite fond memories of really disjointed conversations I have had in Indonesian/English with local people. Especially the three women I met on the bus coming back from the Dieng Plateau who were also teachers and were quite sassy ladies. They told me I was beautiful on a bus full of strangers and they all started hollering and hooting at me. I got quite embarrassed but it was also quite amusing.

At a minimum, when arriving in a new country, you should learn to say ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘please’, and ‘how much?’ I know that sometimes in European countries you are changing country and language every week and this makes it difficult to retain or learn very much at all. But if you are going to a country and planning on spending a couple of weeks to a month there, do yourself a favour and start to learn some language skills. You will find that the locals will be more receptive and helpful to you, and that you will learn so much more than you bargained for about the people and the culture because you have bothered to make the effort. It shows you have a respect for and an interest in the people where you are visiting. And that in itself, will act to enrich your travels and your life for the better.

Lost On The Road: How To Find Direction When You Don’t Know What You’re Doing Anymore

I won’t lie. In the last couple of weeks I have started to feel a little lost. It is something that happens to all of us when we spend such a long time travelling. For me, I will have been on the move for fourteen months now and I still have three more to go.

The idea of getting up in the morning and having to pack my bag is exhausting. Having to go through the same monotonous “get to know you” conversation with everyone you meet is boring. Doing the same activities day in day out and spending half of your waking hours on the bus is tiring just thinking about it. So what do you do? Pack up? Go home? Forget the dream and pack it in? Or keep going in the hope that something will ignite in your soul and give you the fire back.

For me it took having a rest. I went to a small little community in the hills of Ecuador, checked in for five days, did yoga every morning, sat in a hammock and read, had an afternoon nap, and had a massage every other day. And I didn’t much speak to people. I read about mindfulness and neuroplasticity and tried to apply some of these principles to my everyday life. One of the quotes I read greatly resonated with me:

“Being lost is greatly underrated. It can mean you are in a place of unknowing where the rational mind cannot go. In the way that we need darkness to see the stars, we need unknowing to become a beginner again and engage with the mystery and wonder of it all.”

And so I took from this that it was ok to feel lost. It was ok to feel like I was floundering. Because somewhere underneath the struggle, there was something to learn that I do not yet know about.

But as always and in the meantime, as I figure out what these things I am supposed to learn are, there are things that I can do to make life a little more interesting. And as they say, change is as good as a holiday from your holiday.

1. Take a detour

If all you are seeing right now are cities, go to the mountains or the beach. If you spend all your time looking at churches, go to a museum. Templed out? Go see something different. Doing the same thing repetitively isn’t exactly inspiring after a while. So change it up.

2. Treat yourself

We forget as backpackers on the road to do things for ourselves because we are so hellbent on saving cash every single place we turn. Take some time for you. Go out for a really good meal for one at a restaurant and savour every bite. Have a massage. Go to a yoga class and stretch your body. Have a manicure. Do something that makes you feel like you’re investing in yourself.

3. Ask different questions

One of the most mundane parts of meeting people is the same bloody questions and answers over and over again. So develop an arsenal of different questions that enable you to crack through the surface of people quickly to see what they really are about. It will be more interesting than the “where are you going?/where are you from?” bullshit that you encounter everywhere you go and will allow you to make better connections.

4. Pay attention

People miss the small things in life. Sometimes it is nice to sit back and really take in what is happening around us. Attune your ears to all of the sounds about you. Observe the different colours and activities of people around you. Observe your own body moving through these environments and how you react with them. It will create a peace and a feeling of being one with where you are and will help with feeling lost and detached by rooting you in your environment.

5. Slow down

Sometimes the pure pace of travel will wear you out and drain you of your enthusiasm for things. If it is a luxury you can afford, slow down. Stay in one place a little longer and get to know the place and the people a little better than normal. Remember that it is ok to take a day to do nothing and just sleep, read or rest. We all need to be grounded and centred in one place at times to get the rest and recuperation that we need to move on.

6. Reflect

Especially on long bus rides with nothing to do, it is nice to just stare out the window and reflect. What is it that you are feeling and where you think those feelings are coming from. Having an inner awareness of self allows us to process and find the solutions that we are looking for. It allows us to think, feel and then grow. And as mentioned in the quote above, you cannot see the bright and beautiful stars in the sky if not for the darkness. Sometimes it is good to not know everything. Sometimes it is good to not even know where we are going. It is even better if you can learn to let go of needing to control these things and go with it. The world will often take you to where it is that you need to be to learn the lessons that you need to learn.

So have faith and trust. Feeling lost is yet another type of speed bump in the emotional roller coaster of life. But if you are good and kind to yourself, try new things to stimulate your brain and remember to rest, everything else will eventually become clear. You will find your purpose and direction again, and when you do, you’ll never have to question it, because you’ll have worked hard on the process towards knowing.