Into the Highlands the Trip Shall Take Me
I have not written anything meaningful here in quite awhile. I definitely neglected my “Metaphor for Life” series, though I do plan on continuing that eventually. The fact is traveling the way I have you really have to work to find the time to sit down and write. I certainly could have done this but I suppose I’d rather meet new people, see new things, taste new foods, and generally enjoy living life. I’ve decided to sit down and write something now though because I’m about to go “off the grid” for about a month and I figure I should jot a few things down before doing so.
Some updates on what I’ve done since finishing my Camino walks:
- I hitch-hiked alone half way to Paris before taking a train and meeting a friend and Isaiah in Paris.
- I hitch-hiked alone from Paris to Berlin to see my friend Veronika, who I walked with in Spain.
- I worked on a sheep farm north of Hamburg for a week, living in an awesome trailer and loving life.
- I met some guys in Brussels, Belgium and stayed with them for a few days.
- I went to Amsterdam with those guys and had all my things stolen out of their car.
- I hung out in London for a week.
The second to last bullet really had me feeling a bit down. How does a person steal someones entire livelihood like that? It would be very easy to let this dampen my mood on the whole travel thing, but the fact is it can not. If I’ve learned anything in the 3 months I have been traveling it is that most of the people in the world are really great. I have been helped so many times by nearly complete strangers, whether it was when I lost my debit card on the Camino de Santiago, or when I was hitch-hiking and desperately needed a bed and a shower. Someone was almost always ready to help. That simple fact makes it impossible to let the act of one (maybe 2) individuals sour my mood. Sure it will make the next few months much more difficult, but the more I let things play out and just accept what happens to me, the more things seem to work out.
I really wish that I could write out every single experience I’ve had on the road, but I think I’d need a book for that. When you get off the beaten track, and avoid the cookie cutter itineraries you can really have some great experiences. The best part is at the moment you feel the most despair, and like nothing could possibly go right, everything DOES go right. For instance, on the way towards London from the sheep farm in Hamburg, I arrived in Brussels very late at night. I had no where to sleep, and it was to late to catch a train towards London. I walked around looking for a hostel to no avail, so I just sat down on a bench for about 30 minutes and relaxed. I did not know what I was going to do, but when I felt the urge I simply got up and started walking in a direction that felt right. That’s when I stumbled upon a golden scallop shell fastened to the sidewalk (the symbol for the Camino de Santiago). I guess a camino goes through Brussels (no surprise really). I thought “What the hell, I may as well follow it! The Camino has always treated me well in the past.” So that’s what I did, and 10 minutes later, in an absolutely spectacular square two guys walked up to me and started talking to me, then asked me to join their group. I ended up staying with two of them for two days! My Montana Grammy introduced me to the following quote from John Steinbeck’s book “Travels with Charley” and I think it is relevant here.
Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has no personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.
So now, with very little money and a whole world in front of me, it’s time to let the trip take me again. It’s off to Scotland and a month of walking through the Highlands! My only hope is that your own trips also take you places you have only dreamed of!