All I want to do with my life is travel. It is my passion and fuels my engine. I think everyone can benefit from traveling. Travel opens doors of the mind to other ways of living, just as language does.
But after 14 months of travel, all I want is to have options of different outfits. To have my own bathroom.To have my own bedroom. To have a routine every day and a nice clean place to wake up to and go home to every night. I want to walk around naked and hear the sound of my cat running around when I get out of the shower. I want my life to be my life, not the life of the person I’m wwofing for’s life.
To be an explorer is exciting. But it’s true, after a while every place does start to seem the same. Those amusing t-shirts “same same but different” take on a new meaning; total truth. Yes, the language is different here in Argentina, but really I could be in Southern California. In truth, I’m in an entirely different hemisphere, with different stars in the sky and opposite seasons. Yet Spring in September here in Mendoza feels like Autumn in September in California.
The nerves of going to a new place for work always fade, as I think back fondly of past experiences. I didn’t even remember to give myself the little pep talk this most recent time; “remember how nervous you were last time when you first met your hosts and by the end of the week they felt like family! Just meet these people like family!” I just went to work at the fam’s house and had conversations over dinner with another interesting couple.
Days when I don’t feel like speaking Spanish (because I’m awful, but can get my point across) I pretend I’m a complete tourist and don’t speak any Spanish. My Spanish will never be good enough to pass as a local and evade tourist prices, so sometimes it’s not worth the headache I feel at the end of the day of trying to learn.
My fear of looking stupid has completely disappeared. When I began this trip I had a huge fear of people watching me while I sleep. Now I happily pass out, mouth open and in strange positions anywhere I can. As my wise, 18 year old friend Lisa said once in answer to my question “Don’t you worry about what people in hostels think of you if you’re lazy one day and just lay around in bed?” She replied, “Those people don’t know me and will probably never see me again. I don’t care what they think.”
Some people remain in my memories as “the one in the hostel who never got out of bed or woke up the entire two days I had that room,” or “the women who was totally beautiful asleep on the plane.” But those people are now living as characters in my mind, not who they really are in the world. So I walk the wrong way on the street, stand around and look stupid while taking in a situation or new place, and mime my way through almost every conversation every day.
There is nothing left to do at this point but laugh as I walk through the streets of a city with my big backpack on my back and my kangaroo pouch on my front; walking past the suits on cell phones who stare at me out of the corner of their eye. I’ve been stared at before. And hopefully I’ll live long and prosper as a character in someone’s mind.