I came across the following text while flipping through my "Bible" the other day ... that's what us backpackers call our travel guidebooks. It's a direct quote from my Lonely Planet guidebook, I didn't write any of it myself, but it's amazing how closely it reflects my life right now. So here's a bit of insight into "life on the road" ...
"There's nothing worse than the working-stiffs back home giving you hell for traipsing around a foreign continent living a 'carefree' life on the road. What they don't know is that it's not all mangos and sunshine. The road means getting up at the crack of dawn to catch a bus after being kept awake all night by the blaring soccer game and squeaking bedsprings in the hotel room next door. It means sucking dust on a long bus ride while manically trying to guess which of the towns you keep passing through is the one you intended to visit. It means blissful relief when you finally arrive and find your pack still on the roof. It's the sight of begging children, the arduous haul to the hotel, a screaming bladder and the excitement of a new town all catapulting your mind from one emotional extreme to another.
The hotel manager says the showers are hot, but the water hitting the skin is as cold as the bottom of Lake Titicaca. There's no seat on the toilet (at least the bowels are behaving). You call that a fan? Sounds like a helicopter! OK - food. Leave the pack in the corner, get out the map, locate the market, grab the passport (or leave it behind?) and go. The sun feels great. Then you get lost, your mood turns sour as your blood-sugar crashes, you find the market, smell the mangos and try to haggle but have no clue what the fruit seller is saying. You finally hand over the cash - did I just get ripped off? - and walk out to find a good place to eat. Is this easy? Travel in South America certainly has its trials, but that's why we do it. And it sure beats working!"
And here are a few more brief quotes:
"You know you're in South America when the bus driver says 'get on, get on, we're leaving!' and then waits 45 minutes before starting the bus". (oh yeah, definitely been there, done that)
"You know you're in South America when you start to like Nescafe instant coffee". (ha ha, NEVER!)
"You know you're in South America when you realize that not only do all the men dance, but they all dance damn well". (you better believe it baby, they definitely got the moves, so what happened to the dance gene in North American & European men?)
"You know you're in South America when you sit on a plaza bench and a monkey jumps on your lap, steals your smoke, puts it in its mouth, looks up at you and then pisses all over your lap when you laugh at it". (had the same experience in Colombia, except the monkey was after my sunglasses!)