A few years ago, when we were still young and beautiful, my now husband/then boyfriend (NH/TB) and I went travelling for a year. We spend two months in India, three months and a bit in South East Asia, approximately three months in Australia, two weeks in Fiji, a week in the States, a month in Mexico and Belize. I think it’s safe to say that following a year of laissez faire and sunshine, it took us the best part of a year to settle back in a routine at home.
It was an amazing experience. Travelling certainly has the potential to broaden the mind. It was also quite lovely to be tanned for a while. My skin tone is sallow, which after having lived in Ireland for roughly 12 years, tends to look green due to the lack of sun (I’m not referring to daylight hours!). It was also interesting to see my NH/TB change colour nearly on a daily basis. He would go from white, to pink, to red, to red-and-blistered, to pealing and back to white. It took him at least six months to get a sort of base tan (dark white).
During my year before adulthood struck, I did all the unthinkables: I stepped barefoot on a fat cockroach in the dark in Bangkok when I got up at night to go to the toilet. The wet crunching noise was one I worked hard on blocking from my mind. I kissed my NH/TB after he ate a fried scorpion in Phnom Penn. I learned to haggle in India over a bottle of water. I asked a lovely Indonesian woman in Bali if she was pregnant. She told me that she was just fat. I overheard some ehm… interesting conversations on the Greyhound bus from LA to Dallas between men with mullets and moustaches, wearing lumberjack shirts and red baseball caps. I managed to refrain from taking a picture of a “cop” in the same police car as they have in the movies! I’ve done the food poisoning, the mosquito bites and the taking photographs of locals while pretending to snap pictures of buildings.
In Sydney we bought a van to “do” the East coast of Australia that continued to break down and couldn’t drive faster than 60 km/hour. In hindsight (which is a great thing) we realized that the slightly older couple who sold us the van were painfully aware that they were selling us a dud. The woman gave us a parting gift of a huge bag full of chocolates and muesli bars. We were so taken aback by that lovely gesture before excitedly driving off with our new van and unshaken trust in the human nature being good in essence. Eventually we realized that she must have felt really guilty for selling that dud to two travelling youngsters who paid for it with their own cash! I sold Italian silk ties for six weeks as a door to door sales girl for that cash!
My NH/TB used to hold his two fingers at the ready every time a car overtook us while making lewd road rage type gestures at us. Driving at a constant low speed involved some serious vigilance on my behalf as my NH/TB used to speed up unconsciously when hearing certain songs on the radio. I remember a certain Nickelback song being responsible for near engine blow-ups.
Oh the memories… Absolutely delightful! Would I do it again? Absolutely not! After a year of living out of a backpack, smelling like a backpack and being told things like “Keep the bathroom door closed because rats will climb out of the sewer at night.” I think I have earned my right to a little luxury when I go away for a few days. To this day, luxury for me still is: an ensuite bathroom and hot water. There is nothing like the simple pleasure of a hot shower after a long day. Don’t care what the temperature outside is!
Reading the Camper Van Coast by Martin Dorey triggered this. I have fond memories of proudly producing culinary delights on a shoestring budget in the van. Plain pasta with a scoop of pesto out of a jar can look very impressive in the right circumstances!
Martin means business though! This book contains a chapter on camping in winter! I’m more of a fire, couch, hot chocolate inside-the-house-while-it’s-raining-outside kind of girl. During my year of freedom I got my advanced Padi cert. I was even convinced I would dive off the coast of the West of Ireland! Amazing, the deceptive power of the mind…. Tried it once! During summer time I might add. Hmmm, fire, hot chocolate and couch can be very appealing during an Irish summer as well….