You know what? Travel isn’t just about rapture and adventure and new experiences and loneliness and getting sick. It’s mostly learning lessons, over and over again. You learn lessons about yourself, about your own country, about the way different families interact and operate, about the world as a whole, about fellow travelers, society, culture, courtesy, perspective, spending, and did I mention yourself?
I’m coming to realize that I travel in order to get an education. More specifically, I travel solo to get an education. This is all about me; if I don’t get up off that bench and figure out which bus I need to take, I’m not going anywhere. If I can’t communicate to the optometrist/shop owner/ticket seller/conductor, then I may as well just stay home, because otherwise I’m not going to accomplish anything. Being an awful self-critic and perfectionist, I’m constantly wishing I’d done certain things better, or with the savvy I expect myself to have after so many solo trips. Shouldn’t I no longer be so hesitant about approaching someone to see if they can help me? Shouldn’t I remember to validate my train ticket before boarding? Shouldn’t I make my sleep preferences known before spending four nights in an apartment where no one goes to bed before 1 or 2 AM? These examples of the last week are what I like to call my foibles. I can’t beat myself up about them, and I can’t dismiss them, either. All I can tell myself is Remember this, and act wiser next time.
Legendary travel writer Paul Theroux wrote “Travel is only glamorous in retrospect”, which quite sums up the two days right before I came to Dozza. I speak of my most glorious mishap thus far: my illness in the wee hours of last Sunday morning. If you’d like to skip ahead one paragraph down, this is where I discuss my stomach virus that did not even last twenty-four hours. Let me just say that I’m glad I was in a place with a working toilet, because I’m pretty sure I ran from my bed to the bathroom 8 or 9 times between 2 and 9 AM. Everyone has a travel story like this, right? It happened to me last year when I was in Costa Rica, but this episode was decidedly worse. I put off my departure from the city a few hours, sleeping for much of the rest of Sunday and nibbling on banana and crackers. Then, Mother Nature thought she might keep me in Bologna even longer; any train I might have taken that night was canceled due to snow. At that point, I was so done with Bologna that I wanted to scream JUST LET ME OUT OF HERE!! I wanted away from the sickness, away from the sleepless nights, away from all the cigarette smoke and crowds and sub-par graffiti ruining the beauty of the old architecture.
And so, I got on a train headed east first thing the next morning. This brings me to my next point of contention: my packing inabilities. There’s that old cliche, “pack half of what you think you need”, and I honestly thought I did that. Before I re-packed on Long Island, I had two dresses with me, now I had just one. Before I had thigh-high socks and long johns in addition to two pairs of super warm socks and leggings, and I definitely removed at least three pairs of pants from my backpack. Of course, the glaring difference on this particular trip was my laptop bag, filled with several things filed under the “just in case” category.
Here is where I leave you hanging, darling readers. You’ll hear about the farmhouse I’m in and my work here at the farm in the next post– and this time I’m keeping my promise, it will be later today. My new goal is to publish two blog posts a week, at the minimum- let’s hope I stick to it. Happy Sunday all!
“i have often felt called to journey by myself- and i’m not particularly brave, either…so many adventures speak to us when we travel alone. it’s as though the adventure takes the place of a person. stretch your traveling alone muscle. start with tiny trips, or leap into the glorious unknown of a big trip.
where have you always wanted to go?
don’t wait! travel alone…” –SARK