I read a blog post by Almost Fearless the other day that got me thinking (actually it was posted by a guest-blogger on her blog). The post was about what travel days show us. Most people I know, including myself, despise travel days… the lines, the waiting, the junk food, the bathroom stops and the smelly passenger. However, this post made me think of them in a different way.
It carries on saying that travel days should be considered a luxury. They are days to think and days to reflect on the past, present or future. I began to think more about this and sure enough… it was true! All the days spent on and in buses, trains, planes, taxis, sheruts, cars, boats were some of the best days of my trips (if I put aside some of the previously mentioned things).
While living in Argentina we took many bus rides through the night and I remember many bus rides I would spend just sitting and looking aimlessly through the window… but thinking…pondering… or listening to music. A song would come on and I would think of something or someone else…a memory…an event.
Again, on the Middle East trips, the travel days (oh and there were so many) were a blessing. They forced me to sit and relax, rest, and prepare for the next step. They allowed me to meditate on the days before… what had happened, who I met, what I saw. It was a moment that I otherwise wouldn’t have given myself and a moment necessary for all travelers.
Often I spend so much time planning a trip, some time on the trip, and even less time reflecting the trip. Actually, I often forget what happened… small details… people I encountered, conversations I had. For this reason, the days in between travels are for recording these events… either on paper or in our mind. The moments spent with only ourselves (and the smelly passenger) are the moments we should cherish the most.
I remember waiting at a bus station in Syria somewhere between Palmyra and the Iraq Border and waiting for hours… but more than this I remember the time I had to observe the people and the culture around me. The striking difference in communication between men and men, women and women and men and woman. I remember observing the looks people gave me (being the only foreigner). I remember observing the positions and places where men and women would sit. It was a time of reflection and I see that now.
In the hustle and bustle of traveling I often forget to do the most important thing. Sit. Think. Observe.
Travel days confirm our beliefs or ideas. They contradict and negate others. They anticipate future plans and keep an eye on the present.
Think about it the next time you curse the unforeseen travel day.
p.s.- Especially with an exploding Volcano, travel days seem to be more common over here.