Sunday, September 4, 2016

Confessions of a Perpetual Traveler

When I lived in New Zealand I was amazed at how many people had never left Auckland.  To never move from one area your entire life boggles the mind.
I could never be that person.
For me life is made up of a series of adventures. Granted, not all of them are good.  Some are downright miserable.  But travel is always a good adventure.
As a child I was a bookworm, and would read into the night.  I lived vicariously through the characters in the books.  Through them I traveled to exotic destinations and ate amazing food from all around the globe.  Those characters' lives planted a seed in me that was to grow over time.  It was not enough to just read about the different cultures and cuisines, I wanted to experience them first hand.
Danger and living life on the edge became a part of me.  The easy route through life is so mundane that it puts you into a comatose state where you just go through the motions of being alive.  Little house, white picket fence, loving husband, 2 children and a dog.  (Not a cat as I am allergic to them.)  I have to confess, I did try that but kept swerving off the well-trodden path, until my life became one detour after another with many side roads.  No cul-de-sacs for me.
Although it was never part of the grand plan (I had wanted to become a farmer or a vet), teaching proved to be an excellent career choice.  It opened doors for me to see the world.  Living in different countries and becoming absorbed in their cultures is different to going there on holiday.  Immersion not a quick flit in and out.
Nowadays, my part-time job (which is actually my sole source of income) takes me to many different countries.  I can sometimes travel to three different countries in a month.  Some might say I am lucky.  Those are the people who don't travel a lot.  Those who do travel will know exactly what I mean when I say that continuous traveling gives you a sore bum.  Airlines really need to do something about their seats.  No jokes.  Yesterday's flight had me struggling to get comfortable.  I think my coccyx is permanently bruised from bad plane seats.  When it is more comfortable to sit on the toilet on the plane, then you know there is a problem with airplane seats.  Hopefully, some airplane designer will read this and design seats for the frequent flyer.
Last night at the passport control, I watched two people completely lose it.  The queue was long, I have to say.  We had been standing in it for over an hour, shuffling forward every so often.  Then a Filipino woman started shouting, "You jumped my line!  You jumped my line!  You are not a man!  What kind of a man are you?  You jumped my line!"  The man in question first tried to respond in a friendly manner.  He had a wife and about 4 children and a granny with him.  But the irate woman kept shouting, "You jumped my line!"  So he started shouting back.  And then it was a very loud, full-on shouting match.  Airport security arrived.  Removed both the woman and the man and his family out of the queue and made them sit down for a while.  More security arrived and escorted them all to some offices in the depths of the airport.  They hadn't re-emerged when I finally went through passport control.  It shows you have to be patient and just wait in the line.  No matter how annoying it is.  And use your elbows to protect your place in the line.  That is something I learned in China.
Two weeks ago I was in Poland and managed to visit Auschwitz, a lifelong dream of mine.  Two trains, three planes and I was back in Cape Town.  Now I am in Doha, Qatar, looking out my hotel window on the 35th floor, wondering where I can go to forage dinner for tonight.  Cheap food, not over-priced hotel room service.  And what is it with hotels and restaurants all wanting to serve Italian food?  Seriously?  Why are they so ashamed of the local cuisine that they have to steal someone else's?  I choose the local cuisine ahead of Italian every day.  Not that I am anti-Italian.  But eating the local food definitely enhances the travel experience.  And makes you forget about your sore bruised bum.
Cindy Vine is an author and teacher currently living in Cape Town, South Africa.  She is the author of The Case of Billy B, Not Telling, Defective, C U @ 8 and Hush Baby.  All her books are available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle format.

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