I want a travel narrative.
I never expected to start a travel blog, but who knows? My travels are full of many unexpected developments. Nothing is ever what you think it’s going to be, says my oh-so-wise mother to me tonight at dinner, and maybe here she is right. I have been traveling off and on since November 2009 after I put all my belongings in storage and left San Francisco because I had the growing, inescaply strong feeling that my life was in need of a churn. Between Christmas and Thanksgiving 2009, I spent short bursts (weeks) in Iceland and France. In January, I began what I considered the main adventure in Brazil. I expected to live in Rio, but it was too hot until April (what Brasileiros call “insuportavel” and if hard-working, tolerant-of-much-more-hardship-than-me Brazilians are telling me conditions are unbearable, I listen. I spent almost three months traversing southern Brazil and then working my way up the Northeastern coast from Recife to Sao Luis.
Two weeks ago I was about to start my long-dreamed-about adventure of living in Rio de Janeiro, but an email intervened.
Two weeks ago on a Saturday night, I was hanging out in bohemian Santa Teresa, the Montmartre of Rio, hills full of jaw-dropping colonial mansions and a yellow antique cable car line (and favelas). I read an upsetting email from my mother. The subject: Dad. My father had a bicycling accident. Floods were just about to rain down on Rio and shut down the city for two days, and four days later I was on a plane back to see my father and help his wife manage his recovery.
My life has been thrown up in the air. It was a leap of faith to take this trip, and now that I am out on the road, I find that I need a narrative that explains this experience to myself. Why am I spending a big chunk of the savings I accumulated from selling our start-up to another company when I could be saving them to buy a house or for my retirement? What is the point of all these excursions into another culture, to see “beautiful things?” I am an over-thinker to begin with, and at times, I feel like the only traveller who questions, why is it that I am doing this, running around to all these beautiful places, having all these “extraordinary” experiences?
To be honest, traveling doesn’t come naturally to me. I get overwhelmed by options. And I was prejudiced against travel for many years. I was quite the stay-er for most of my adult life, having stayed in San Francisco for 13 years while most others in my demographic city-hopped. I always saw loyalty to one place as being the key to having deeper experiences, and I must have seen traveling as superficial, that you could never know a place quickly in a week or a day, so why bother? You wouldn’t know the secrets, and ultimately, you would have to leave–so why love a city then leave it? That must have been my logic. It’s as if I saw cities as people, and demanded exclusivity from myself and secretly from others.
I never really saw the point of traveling to be honest. And now I do. I think. My experiences so far have been . . . I’m not sure what the word is for them. That’s why I have decided I want to write about them in a more systematic way than just in my prolific diary.
So this blog is about all of it, all my overthinking with regard to travel, the wonderful and weird people that I have met along the way, the oddities of language that I love so much (for me, it’s so much better to learn the language where I am traveling), and making sense of this largely unplanned adventure.