Current status: hanging out with Kim Crawford on the couch, listening to Spotify and mucking about on the internet. Not all that different from a typical Tuesday night except that I am in an Airbnb in Ottawa and there are no dogs.
I’ve quit facebook, quit my job and taken leave of my husband and animals and home to travel to India and Nepal but I lined up a bit of “practice” traveling, wrapping up work remotely and visiting friends. The day before I left a friend told someone I was off to India the next day and I had to explain a bit ruefully that I wasn’t going to be in India for a little while still. Leg #1 was Seattle to White Rock, leg #2 was to Vancouver, leg #3 Montreal, leg #4 Ottawa, leg #5 Toronto, leg #6 London (with a layover in Iceland) and then Mumbai from where I will make my way north to Delhi (as well as east and west and a bit farther north, and finally home through Hong Kong. I can write that now because although I’ve been on the road for 10 days, I only just booked my flight home.
It’s kind of exciting, really. As a project manager and therefore usually a super-planner. I often make reservations months in advance but this trip I am kind of making things up as I go along and that has meant some scrambling (for visas, passport renewal, giving my company enough notice, figuring out outfits that will work across cultures and climates and landscapes, etc.) but it turns out that most of these things can be done in a rush and / or online – something that I am finding out at a whole new level now that I have lost my wallet.
New credit and debit cards overnighted to me? Don’t mind if I do. New green card and Nexus rushed to me so I can get back in the country later? Yes please.
I’m consider myself a fairly seasoned traveler so this is an embarrassing and rookie mistake but I had an errand at the embassy where they require you to bring no bags, sunnies or cell phones so I was literally carrying everything in my pockets, in the pouring rain, in a country that I feel safe in so I wasn’t really on my guard. And so I’m grateful for these weeks of practice travel while I ramp up and get my sh– together.
One gets old and set in one’s ways and even in my home town I was glad of free public Wifi, Google maps and friendly bartenders. In Montreal even more so. as I spent a good portion of the week dealing with rudeness, apathy and ineptitude as they tried to fix my notebook. In Ottawa the response to me losing my wallet was “not my problem” or “I need to get paid” but I’m sure it will not be long in India before I’m laughing at how infuriated I have been about the noise and construction and lack of WiFi, customer service and kindness. It’s tough out here in the world.
Travel is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. That is how we grow.
Instead of grumbling, here are some of the many new and / or cherished experiences I’ve had this week:
Sorting through all kinds of old nostalgia and photos with my mom, a great sleep with her tiny dog curled up in my armpit (as compared with my mediocre sleep most nights cramming between my two enormous, snoring bulldogs), a ride to the bus stop on the corner (literally 3 blocks away) so she could see me off, the ahhhh-mazing Apple customer service and quality program fixing my laptop on the road – for free, high quality delicious and sustainable sushi at Hapa Izakaya, inventive vegetarian Chinese comfort food at Bao Bei, delicious and creative cocktails in beautiful rooms at Nightingale and The Botanist, and finally a ride to the airport from my sister.
Being met at the airport by my lovely friend who I’ve not seen in a while, who fed me all kinds of delicious food and wine, snuggles and kisses and playtime with the second loaner dog of the trip, happening across an amazing Chagall exhibit at the art gallery and another Amazonian one at the archeology museum, surprising sunshine allowing for wine and burrata on a terasse with a good book, more wine and deliciousness at Vin Papillon, and then even more wine and more deliciousness at Nora Grey, teaching the loaner dog to waltz, brunch at the spectacular Satay Bros. and finally coming across an urban “cabane à sucre” in a park.
Arriving at my Airbnb to find it so charming and lovely and heart-warming that I didn’t even want to leave – and that was before I saw that my hostess had left me some chocolate, ducking in out of the rain at a cosy pub to have some seriously good pizza and beer.
Having said credit cards arrive over night – with a photo that my husband had included of him and all of our animals, catching up with more good friends I haven’t seen in a while, delicious cocktails and dinner at Byblos, mind-blowingly amazing peach beer at Momofuku (and lunch to go with), the availability and ease of hailing cabs, interesting and sumptuous flavours at Banu Iranian restaurant and cafes with good coffee that haven’t minded me hiding out from hours from the rain. And tomorrow we dance! I can’t tell you how excited I am about that.
I am feeling very loved, cared for and connected…and this is another reason one must travel – so that we can spend time connecting with people in person. As I have learned from working from home this winter, video chat and IM just don’t cut it.
Finally, being away from home is an opportunity to appreciate the things one normally takes for granted. I am so happy to have my high quality pack / boots / Goretex with me, my Canadian passport, to be free of allergies and allergies and have a relatively good ability to adapt, to be hosted by so many lovely people (both because it helps my travel budget but also because it’s a new perspective on how others live, not to mention extra time to catch up). Conversely I have loved and needed the downtime in between staying with friends, appreciated the flexibility to work remotely…and of course to have enough health and wealth and courage to be able to take this trip in the first place.
Next stop: Londontown.