Friday, 7 May 2010

It’s all about the journey…

Over the past few months I have spent countless hours in buses and trains on my way to trainings and exchanges in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia amongst a few destinations. Some people can’t get to their destination quick enough – they hate those long, uncomfortable and bumpy bus rides.

- I am not one of them.

No, I am one of those people that truly enjoy the journey. Sometimes the journey itself is even more fun and exciting than the actual holiday/destination is. For me holiday starts much earlier than arriving at the destination. It starts as soon as the first plans are made, and the excitement heightens with the preparations and packing, but the real fun begins, the moment I step into the bus/train/plane. That’s when things get concrete – that’s when the adventure begins.

I love the long rides – in fact, the longer the better! Any journey less than 5 hours isn’t a real journey. But how to spend all those hours in the bus? Some sleep, some read, some listen to music and some talk. When it comes to traveling I think sleeping is a waste of time (and besides I cannot sleep in overcrowded buses anyways) – I don’t want to miss a single second of my surroundings. Reading makes me nauseous. I either listen to music or I talk.

-I prefer to talk.

OK, maybe not with BOris (you know that person who claims half your already tiny seat and whose BO you can detect from miles away) who bores you to death with his tales of…actually I don’t give a darn what he’s saying, just get him a breath mint already. And some deodorant while we’re at it. 9 out of 10 times BOris chooses the seat next to me. In that case, my mp3 is my savior. But that one time, when God (and BOris) gives me a break and someone really interesting ends up next to me, that’s what counts. It’s those fascinating characters that cross your path, which you’ll remember.

-They make the ride worthwhile.

Andy, for example, decided one day to hop on the bus in New York to go all the way to Los Angeles just to buy an Obama t-shirt. He took 5 days for this trip, most of which was spent waiting at the Greyhound stations and on the bus itself…We met in Las Vegas and traveled together to Kansas City, which was a 10+ hour drive. We talked the whole way. About Obama, politics, Greyhound, Americans, life, reincarnation, aliens, public toilets and other random topics. When we reached KC, I felt like I knew this guy all my life…

Then there was Mr. O who tried to sell his son to me. And he was doing a pretty good job. Come on, what girl doesn’t want a well educated man, who has his own law practice with a beach house in Dubrovnik, a six figure salary, and who is tall, dark and handsome (Mr. O may have been exaggerating just a bit)?

-Well, I didn’t.

You see, after the whole pimping-the-son-to-me part, Mr. O mentioned that he was already married BUT he hated his daughter in law. He confessed that he’d much rather have a “nice exotic young lady such as yourself in the family.” Though flattered, I wasn’t ready to pack my bags and break up any marriages just yet.

And I have to mention this guy who had been walking around Europe for 23 months straight. He had been to every country. When asked why he decided to walk instead of, I don’t know, take the bus, he replied with “walking is faster.” This guy was compelling – his philosophy and experiences really made an impact on me and made me reassess my priorities in life. For me traveling is therapy. It is educational. It is inspirational.

-It is life.

Traveling is as much about the journey (if not more) as it is about arriving at your final destination. It is not just about getting there. As Ursula K. LeGuin says: “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

That guy I told you about who walked Europe, well his name was Gump. Forrest Gump (not the ‘real’ one – if there is such a thing – but still). Next time you’re off somewhere, keep your eyes and ears open and more importantly OPEN your mouth. Because you never know who you’ll meet and that one person might just change your life.

- And oh yeah, enjoy the ride :)

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