What would you do? You’re in a foreign country, don’t speak the language, and you (really) need a haircut. Would you a) wait till you get back home, or b) find a haircutter in the foreign country and go for it? (Beth asks these questions as we travel; Joe doesn’t; he brings his haircutter of 40+ years with him.)
Beth came to the realization (as she sat in the salon chair in Porto and watched her shorn hair descend to the ground) that she has reaped success when traveling by taking little “leaps of faith” on unfamiliar terrain. It’s not always easy. It doesn’t always work out, but, when it does work, she is rewarded with pleasure for having risen to the challenge and trusting that “it will work out.”
As we travel we try new foods. Sometimes that’s easy, but other times we take a leap of faith and trust it’ll work. For example, we asked the waitperson at Bugo Art Burgers, in Porto, for advice on the topping for our lentil burger. She gave a few options and said her personal favorite was Porto + Serra, a very strong tasting sauce described as “onion confit in port wine, topped with traditional Portuguese ‘Serra da Estrela’ cheese”. Okaaay? We hesitated – and then went for it. Result: absolutely wonderful! Eating strange and ugly seafood like espada (black scabbardfish) required a few days for the idea to settle in before we were brave enough to try it. The taste? Excellent!
We take a leap of faith each time we get on public transportation in a new city, in a new country, with other passengers maybe or maybe not speaking our language and we certainly not speaking theirs. We’ve learned to enjoy taking public transportation, as an easy and inexpensive way to traverse a long distance or just to get across town.
Many friends stay in chain hotels in foreign countries “so we know what we’re getting,” surrounded by people who speak their language, and food they are comfortable with in the restaurants. However, by taking that little leap of faith to stay in a small local inn or an AirBnB, taking a risk, we’ve found that the rewards far outweigh the occasional disappointments.
As for that haircut for Beth, only a few blocks from our apartment, we had seen a sign on the street “Tuesday special – short haircuts – 5 euros.” Beth strolled in the next Tuesday with a photo of herself taken after a previous good haircut. The haircutter looked at it, nodded, and confidently took scissors to hair. Beth took a gulp. Sure enough, only 5 euros was the charge, but the result? Ah, just like the good hair cut photo! The moral of the story: with a little leap of faith often comes a pleasant reward. Be prepared in life – and in traveling – to take a leap of faith.