Wednesday, August 6, 2008

LIFE ON THE ROAD

We are now in our ninth week of travel. Prior to this trip, the longest Marty had been away at one time was three weeks. I had been away for six weeks in Israel and Greece, but that was combined with visiting family. Life on the road can be fun and exciting but also tiring, frustrating and even boring sometimes. There are lots of surprises - both good and bad, and many things to be grateful for.

Having only one 26" rolling duffel bag per person, every item put into those bags was well thought out. I am pleased to say that so far, we feel that everything that we have brought has been needed and that we are not finding ourselves lacking for anything. Bored with what we have maybe, but not lacking.

We left with a "well stocked" first aid kit (within reason) and I feel grateful that to date, we have needed nothing beyond a Motrin or two and Neosporin for a cut Siena obtained while climbing rocks.

Our first two apartments (six weeks total) had internet access and we came to love the convenience that it offered. Now, without it in Korcula, we feel frustrated, irritated and put out. We have an internet cafe 1/2 hour away but it's definitely not the same. It's amazing how addicted to technology we are and how "disconnected" we can feel when we don't have it. If you check our blog regularly, you noticed a week long gap where we didn't post anything. It was not from lack of interest but lack of opportunity. We missed writing and the intellectual stimulation that it can bring.

We all love each other very much but when you talk with the same three people all the time, you start to get tired of them. Our ears are constantly perked for any sound of the English language and we attack the source in hopes of a conversation with someone else. Unfortunately, they haven't necessarily been deprived of conversation for quite as long and may not be as desperate as we are.

Travel days are tough. Even if everything goes smoothly, they are still tough. You are giving up the comfort and familiarity of a place you have come to love and don't necessarily want to leave. You are heading to a place that will hopefully be exciting, but you really don't know for sure what it will be like. And you have to "figure out" everything from the beginning: transportation system, language, where to buy food, your way around town etc. It's interesting but it is work and sometimes complacency seems a better alternative.

To date, we have taken three flights, one long distance train, and a long distance ferry. All of our baggage has arrived at the our destination intact. We count our blessings each time we see those four bags on a baggage claim conveyor belt.

Every place we have been to, we have felt perfectly safe for both our personal beings as well as our possessions. Nothing has ever been taken from us and never once have we felt in danger of any theft. Here on Korcula, we don't even lock our door at night.

A lot of times you have everything you need, just not always at the same time. In Krakow, we had a coffee maker and filters but had run out of decaf coffee (I can only drink decaf) and couldn't find any. Right before leaving Krakow, we found some decaf and bought extra to take with us to Croatia. In Dubrovnik, we had the coffee and coffee maker but no filters. Couldn't find any filters in the store so we bought paper towels to use for filters. By the time we got to Korcula, we had decaf coffee but no coffee maker and no filters , only an espresso pot. When life gives you an espresso pot, you learn to make espresso!

Whether, it's moving from home to home or just on a day trip, there's always the risk of losing things. So far our record isn't too bad. Marty lost his baseball cap which has now been replaced by a panama hat (he looks quite debonair). We lost one Nalgene water bottle in the Krakow airport when we were there to pick up my mother -- we are making do with just three bottles. The worst was also at the Krakow airport at the same time as the water bottle loss. Avocet left her brand new purse (purchased in Zakopane) in the bathroom at the airport and by the time she realized it, it was gone. Financially, it was not a great loss but emotionally it was huge!

You spend a lot of time being versus doing. If you were a Buddhist, you would be right up there with the Enlightened. But if you're an American where what you do and accomplish is how you judge and value yourself, it's a tough transition. At times we feel unproductive and a little at a loss. You start to wonder what your purpose is - of course that is all part of this process that we call travel but it sure feels uncomfortable.

Some days the exotic is no longer appealling and you long for easy and familiar - your own bed and pillow, jam the flavor you want and not just what's available, a stove that cooks with even heat and a refrigerator that actually keeps things cold and not cool. Other days, the view of the Adriatic off your balcony makes all those other "things" insignificant.

Our day to day life is very much about what we create for ourselves. There isn't a whole lot that we have to "react" to - no work, few time constraints, no extra curricular activities, no school or volunteer obligations...the list goes on and on. It's a freedom that we all longed for and yet, ironically, it comes with a lot of responsibility. What strange lives we lead.

3 comments:

Sophia said...

I'm so glad you made the trek to post, I was missing them!!! The island looks so peaceful and perfect. Your perspectives are so interesting and coming from someone who has my own bed and pillow but am getting ready for the duldrums of a school year schedule I envy you!!! I can't wait to read on....

Sarah said...

Lisa,
What a refreshing point of view. And sure does put a twist on the old, "are we there yet?" At bookclub we've begun to read Three Junes and wonder if some of the places mentioned will be on your itinerary.
Love and miss you,
Sarah

Misplaced said...

I really admire the simplicity in which you are traveling. I wonder, for myself, if that simplicity can be sustained in American after the travels are through. I'm going to try.

-Former Clifton Neighbor/ Current Paris Resident