Europe

Extended Travel Weariness


Monday, August 30th, 2004: Nice, France

We meet a fellow Torontonian today by the name of Yvette. She is a seasoned traveler  having spent a month in Calcutta working with the Mother Teresa foundation and, like us, is heading to Spain. But unlike us, she will be doing the grueling Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, walking with her life on her back for over 30 days. The conversation turns to our trip and how long we have been traveling. She is surprised and awed by our 7 + month journey and she asks an important question: “Aren’t you exhausted?” In some ways we are.

During our time in India I wrote about travel weariness and how that weariness affects your ability to really know a country and all its unique beauty and offerings. How this psychological weariness somehow makes you blind to the incredible wonderment that these places have to offer; how it turns humbleness into anger and bitterness about not having Western trappings and conveniences available to make your journey easier or more comfortable. It was also a physical weariness, brought on by the tough travel and conditions of both Thailand and India. Both the psychological and the physical were amplified in those countries by seeing so many tough things, things that we still speak of a little uneasily and with hesitation, even to this day,

We have only three and a half months left on this incredible journey and I find that we are having trouble filling in some of the precious time that is left to us. This pattern really started when we arrived in Vienna, exhausted after cramming so much of northern Europe into our schedule. The constant living out of suitcases; never unpacking your toiletries bag, wearing the same clothes day after day, all these things begin to burrow into your psyche and your soul, wearing you down. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, these are small and petty annoyances. But I secretly and enviously watch people checking out of the hotels we are in, jumping into waiting taxis that will drop them at the airport and their flights home; home to their own beds and towels. Knowing that they have just had a week of vacation and on Monday morning they will be “back at it”. My real thrill is when we do laundry; it is like a small gift has been given to us.

Now our conversation starts to drift to the reality of what will happen when we return home. To quote a Harry Nilsson song: ‘Summer’s almost over, the kids are back at school, time to drain the water out of the swimming pool’.

That reality is getting closer and closer

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