An apology in advance: forgive the typos as I have just had my wisdom teeth ripped out of my head and am eating strange pills from a pez dispenser. In a continuation of my post “10 things I’ve learned on the road” in no particular order are 14 (or is it 15?) more things I’ve learned on the beginning of my Round the World trip. I hope you enjoy them as much as I am enjoying the painkiller popsicle I made myself.
11. Smiling will get you everywhere- sometimes it will get you places you don’t wanna be. Use smiles with caution. “you’re never fully dressed without a smile!” Ugh. just hearing that phrase makes me ill. Luckily, I’m not alone. I mean, for one, smiling at a dog is baring your teeth and that’s a sign of aggression… but more importantly in many cultures a smile is an invitation, usually to a pants party. I’m not saying to walk around mean mugging everybody, but use a little discernment when you flash the green light via the pearly whites or else you could wind up at some kind East Indian man’s house in a ceremony which appeared to be an engagement. Serious.
12. There is no travel day so horrendous that it would be better to be back home in the comfort zone. Waah, my feet hurt, my back hurts, I’m hot, my bug bites itch, I want a shower and clean clothes and a hot meal and cold water but I’m lost and no one speaks my languages and I just want MY OWN BED, waaah. Yup, I’ve had those days. I just want my own bed- and then I remember I don’t have a bed, I gave it away. Waaaah again. Sometimes you’re just exhausted. Sometimes you need a coffee and or beer. Sometimes you need to just walk to the business district and watch all the people filing out of their jobs looking about as alive as a soggy potato chip before you realize just how good you’ve got it.
13. Where there’s a will- there’s a way. Captain Stubborn strikes again! I’m a spoiled rotten brat and won’t stop till I get my way-usually, that works out for me. Seriously, once you decide you wanna do something, make it happen. At least if you can’t make it happen you can wear yourself out so bad you don’t have the energy to be sad that it didn’t happen.
“The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized – never knowing. ” Jim Rohn ~ Click here to read more quotes that make you wanna wake up and do something!
14. The hardest part is making your mind up. This goes for just about anything. Jumping off a cliff into the river? Once you make up your mind you’re gonna do it, you might as well just jump. Buying a ticket to the other side of the world and living out of a backpack till God knows when? Just click “purchase now”. The details will sort themselves out. Have a little faith, a little tenacity, and a lot of courage. You can do it, and if you can’t- well, at least you’ve got good travel insurance.
15. You don’t need money to enjoy yourself (okay, Im still learning this) It *IS* possible to walk around a city and not spend a penny… for weeks on end. Some of the more memorable experiences I have had with people on this trip cost me nothing. People watching, window shopping, stealing things (just kidding)… you get the point though- you don’t have to shell out dough for an experience, in fact, doing so will probably cheapen it and make you feel dirty. Wait, what?
16. Always pack more panties than you think you need. I am 99.9% certain the Travelocity gnome follows me around the globe and eats my panties. I have no other explanation for where they all go..okay, except that pair on the metro- but that was an accident! Side Note: I know someone’s going to disagree and say you can just always wash them out and night and let them dry, but I’m telling you- you’re gonna lose some.
17. Old men, though sometimes pervy, will usually help you out better than anybody else. Maybe because they have nothing else to do all day but drink coffee and argue about things repeatedly (as they forget what they were arguing about 4 minutes prior) but I find the cranky old men are the best source of great info. What shops to visit, what places to avoid, where to get the strongest coffee and the cheapest beer… you know, old man stuff. If you can brave the smell of their hair pomade, just walk up to them and admit you’re “a little lost” and then open your eyes real wide (so you look dumb and innocent all at the same time), and then offer a smile that looks a little bit scared so they feel the need to protect you… oh yeah, you’re in like flynn. The real problem is getting away…
18. Always validate your metro, bus, train, etc ticket or be prepared to do some fast talking or slow undressing. Pffft. Did you know the average fine for not validating your metro ticket is 40 (FORTY!) times the original cost of the ticket? Did you know that cleavage alleviates this fine? Well, now you do. Note: If you’re a male, I advise you to NOT attempt using your bear rug cleavage to get out of this. Just keep saying a bunch of words in English that don’t make sense and look incredibly confused. Whatever you do: don’t admit your guilt.
19. Leave for appointments early, leave the bars late, and leave the passport somewhere safe! Unless you want to get your passport stolen while you’re dancing with gorgeous Colombian boys. Leave for appointments early because you’re in a new town, you don’t know your way around and it just looks sloppy to be late, even if you’re a dirty smelly hippy backpacker.
20. Stop taking everything so seriously, laugh a little. This needs no explanation.
21. Patience is a virtue… which is SO hard to cultivate. Why can’t there be a Buy It Now “Patience” App? I may or may not have had a problem with my patience previous to this trip. However, between layovers and bus delays and donkey crossings and walking behind old women on the sidewalk, I’ve learned how to be patient. In fact, I can sit quietly for hours on end and not even be phased by it anymore. Those back home are surely looking forward to seeing me be silent…
22. The internet is a great resource but can also be a burden. You know the feeling. The uneasy, slightly anxious emotion that you get at the pit of your stomach when you haven’t checked your email for a day or two… and maybe someone emailed you something life altering… or maybe there’s a cool Facebook post on your wall. UGH, why is there no internet in this town? If you’ve been on the road, you know what I’m talking about. Keep your cool, you’ll get net when you get it, in the mean time, make a list of things you actually need to do online, so when you get access you don’t lose an hour to StumbleUpon… (what? I’m guilty)
23. I still have a pulse though I don’t own a cell phone. Sure, sometimes it would be incredibly convenient to reach into my pack, pull out a phone and ask a hostel for directions- but teleporting would also be incredibly convenient and I don’t have that either. You can travel the world without a phone and sometimes it really sucks, but then again- I’m never sitting on top of a mountain enjoying a glorious view and interrupted by my bag screeching out ringtones.
24. Live in the moment. Of course this isn’t a new lesson, but I appreciate it more and more every day. Maybe the bus just broke down and its 43 outside. Though I am probably pitting out and being suffocated by the stench of unwashed & un-deodorized armpits- I’m also living like a local. Suck it up and experience the moment for what it is- likely a great travel story in the making. If not, just pull out your camera and take 1000 photos of yourself and things around you- always works for me.
25. Everyone you meet is your superior in some (usually most) ways. I was writing in my journal and a man with his arms full of bracelets and neck full of necklaces comes up and tries to sell me some jewelry. I explain to him in Spanish that I don’t speak Portuguese, sorry. He responds in Spanish “that’s fine, we can speak Spanish”. (oh hell. I really don’t want to buy any jewelry) So I switch to Greek and say “well my spanish isn’t very good, I prefer to speak Greek” thinking I would surely be able to throw him off. Well Hell, he answers in Greek and asks how many times we are going to have to change languages before I buy a bracelet. I start laughing and tell him in English I really thought I would be able to get away without having to buy one. We sat on the park bench and I learned that he’s fluent in 10 languages and travels the world selling jewelry to tourists. Sheesh. He earned that sale.
26. A mirror is the best entertainment device, EVER. Maybe I’m conceited and self absorbed, but I’m serious here people. Stuck waiting for the goats to cross the road? whip out the mirror and start admiring yourself, or plucking your eyebrows. Also great for spying on the back of the bus…