Have been thinking about why I get the itch to travel so badly time to time. That itch makes me so restless that I start counting not the days but hours of vacation I earn with every single week of work. I make plans, budgets, to-do lists.I doodle names, trees, waves on every piece of paper while I am on the phone.
The reason I travel is usually to escape from all the familiarity, to leave all the worries behind as if they will all get resolved magically if I am not around for a while. The people will start behaving more consciously, the bills will pay themselves, there will be one more lane on the highway to solve the traffic jam. I will come back with a relaxed aura and as an enlightened creature that those things won’t bother me anymore. You know, because I traveled, I am all different now.
The thing is… I tend to stay in my comfort zone when I travel because I don’t want the stress of the unknown. You will not find me going on a vacation to do sky diving or bunge jumping. Or push myself through a strenuous hike to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro or deep ends of Amazon forest. I am sure they are beautiful. But just not me.
Some might call me boring. So be it.
I do what I know best when I travel. I walk miles and miles in a city,talk to people (if I can speak the language, even if I cant sometimes!), eat my way around the places and maybe visit a museum or two but they tend to suck the breath out of me if they are scheduled two days in a row. Because the life is out there in a bakery, in a cafe, at a newspaper kiosk, over a bridge, in small shops, on the streets…
And most vividly, at farmer markets…
That is why I like to visit them wherever I go, if I can.
So I did on my trips to Bolivia back in 2008 and 2009 with Water For People. You catch a glimpse into the locals’ way of living, making a living, attending a family. Tired faces, yawning, smiling, talking, serving. I was there not for vacationing but on a volunteer project, however it did not feel like work or obligation.
I ate the fruit of cactus for the first time. I drank a corn concoction that filled me up for the rest of the day. One of the best moments when I was taking these pictures (with an old point-and-shoot camera), the flower lady did not want to get in the picture. Every time I raised the camera, she would hide. When we asked, she said “that thing will trap my soul inside it, you will take my soul with you and I will never be able to find my way back!”
I guess she was right and I am guilty of it. Everytime we travel, we are just trying to bring back a piece of that soul with us to keep our memories warm and cozy.