Posted by Lentus Ambulandus
I have two favourite travel quotes. The first is by Paul Theroux (The Great Railway Bazaar):
…leaving was a cure: “Have you tried aspirin?” “No, I think I’ll go to India.”
The other is by Bruce Chatwin (Anatomy of Restlessness):
“I’ve always wanted to go there,” I said. “So have I,” she added. “Go there for me.” I went. I cabled the Sunday Times: “Have gone to Patagonia.”
When I was younger, I was always thrilled at the prospect of setting off for parts unknown. The melancholy associated with leaving — if it existed at all — was superseded by the excitement of what lay ahead. Change was a virtue. The more different and challenging the new place promised to be, the better.
But as time passed, the lustre of travel seemed to fade. I’m not sure why, exactly. Maybe I thought I’d seen enough…or perhaps we decided so much change had become costly. I wrote about the merits of staying in place, and told myself that it was time to focus locally. My wife and I made a concerted effort to settle down, in what might be described as an ideal location. It felt unnatural.
About a week ago, my wife (an accountant, of sorts) phoned me as she was boarding a flight home from a work trip.
“I just got offered a six-month contract in Colombia.”
“When do they want you to start?”
“In two weeks. They need to know tomorrow.”
We’re going to Colombia. On Saturday.
The most striking part of this was the complete lack of debate. When the opportunity to hit the road presented itself, it was like we breathed a huge sigh of relief: we aren’t settling down, after all! It’s almost as though the Colombia offer was a test, designed to reveal a great truth about how we really ought to live.
It’s also testament to the freedom of manoeuvre one gains by living an untethered, unencumbered lifestyle. Translation: we rent, we hardly own anything, and we have no commitments. The ass-pain associated with moving on short notice is fairly low.
Escapological lessons abound. I’ll write about freedom of manoeuvre, as well as the economics of our decision (hint: South America is a lot cheaper than Canada), in the next print edition of New Escapologist.
We’re taking two suitcases, two backpacks, and two bikes. After we’re finished in Colombia, we’ll put a moratorium on work and head further south — Peru, Chile, Argentina — where we’ll hike, cycle, and live simply. We’ll be gone for at least a year.
Leaving is a cure.
Have gone to Patagonia.