Shorter trips to familiar places are manageable. Longer trips to far-flung and foreign locations are not so easy. One day we were home, surrounded by all that is familiar and before we knew it, a jet had dropped us into a place where our senses were having a hard time taking it all in.
Looking back, we remember the (mostly) thrill and (sometimes) difficult transitioning to a truly unfamiliar place. We accepted the challenge, knowing we’d be rewarded by the experiences we’d have, the sights we’d see, and the people we’d meet.
We knew there would be differences we’d face with a truly foreign journey, so we started the trip by easing in, accepting and using the resources available to us – rather than expecting/hoping/complaining about our having to make an adjustment to the unfamiliar.
For years of our travels, everyone around us spoke a foreign language we did not understand. People dressed differently, and we stood out in a crowd – always. In many places the streets were not just dirty – but strewn with trash. To travel well and happily, it helped to transcend those issues.
As we traveled, our accommodations varied greatly: a stay in a riad on a narrow lane in old Marrakesh, tent camping in parks across the U.S., a very small hotel room tucked under the top floor eaves in Cuzco, Peru.
Every place we stayed challenged us to be accepting of living in a new location and to look for all the wonders we would discover – temporary as they may be – in our new home.
It wasn’t just “putting up” with living in a variety of places. Quite often we were thrilled at the differences: the views from our windows, the walks we could take right outside our door, a comfortable bed, and, when we stayed at an inn or hotel, the great staff and lovely breakfasts.
Food was a joy, but also a challenge, as we moved around the world. Dining in Hoi An, Vietnam was a culinary highlight for us and cost so little. Two of the best meals of our trip were at Maido and La Mar in Miraflores, Peru.
Still, there were so many other lovely new fruits we had only read about and never tried – and now we have – among them: dragonfruit, jackfruit, custard apple, and tamarillo,…
So many things we worried about never materialized. We never were treated with hostility, never robbed (though we did stop a pickpocket in Buenos Aires), never cheated on a bill.
Travel offered us an amazing opportunity to step outside our home and our surroundings into a new world. Acceptance allowed us to move forward to face what was not familiar.