The art of doing nothing while traveling

NIca_STRAND
Beach in San Juan Del Sur.

Traveling is exhausting. Your brain is buzzing from the gazillion things it has to do and remember to keep you alive during your time on the road. Where am I going next? How am I going to get there? How do I buy a ticket in a language I barely understand? Imagine all those questions combined with all the different smells and colors, works of art and stunning landscapes you’re discovering every single day. No routine, besides the fact that everything is new to you. I remember days strolling through unknown cities, absorbing as much of the tastes and impressions as possible. Always searching for something. A place to sleep. A restaurant. Nice bars. An english bookshop. An ATM. The postoffice. The supermarket. People to hang out with. 

The first thing I noticed when I was home – besides my empty wallet – was how easy everything was. I knew where I could find the closest ATM. How to buy a bread in the local language. When the shops would close in the evenings. I took my car – no questions about how to get there, just choosing between car or bicycle – and drove to the ATM, where I got the amount of euros I needed – no checking exchange rates and worrying about the costs of withdrawing money – and go home. Traveling means your brain is constantly calculating, working, thinking in different languages and different exchange rates. Which is exactly why I like doing it as well. The new challenges, the thrills, the call for adventure that runs through your blood, while juggling with new languages.

NICA_SanJuan
Beach in San Juan Del Sur.

Especially when traveling longterm, you will need a break. At a certain point, a mountain stays just an ordinary mountain, you’ve already seen tons of them before. Just like volcanoes, waterfalls and beaches. Don’t even think about seeing one of those beautifully decorated ancient temples. You stop seeing the beauty, since everything becomes the same. Then you need a break. You need to start doing nothing. In order to appreciate it again. On my 5-month long trip through Central America, I needed a break in Nicaragua. Unpacking and re-packing my backpack every 3 to 4 days left myself exhausted, without the slightest level of energy to jump on another bus to another place I must have seen in Latin America. – there are many of them, sadly not enough days in a year to be able to see EVERYTHING. Hell, even a lifetime won’t be enough – Meeting M. already brought a little change into my daily traveling habits – shame on me I still didn’t caught up with her in Europe –, especially the moment we ‘got stuck’ in San Juan Del Sur. One day became two, became three, became a week and two weeks later we finally left. – ok, also partly because M. had a little wound in the foot, but still, we couldn’t move even if we’d wanted to – As I already mentioned in my earlier blogpost, San Juan is a huge party place. To M. and me, it became a safe haven for a while. Of course, a lot of partying was involved, just like meeting up with a lot of people, relaxing at the beach and doing absolutely nothing else. I remember walks to the Taco Stop, discussing on our way wether to take quesadillas – again, like almost everyday – or another chocolate pancake for breakfast. Deciding to take another licuado – milkshake-ish drink in Central America consisting of fresh fruits mixed with ice and water or milk. I still dream about my daily licuados – and reading our books in the morning. Taking an afternoon nap. Lazy sun-drenched days.

NICA_Tacostop
Taco Stop ceiling.

Things I could perfectly do in my hometown as well. It could be any other place I’ve visited. I always thought it’s a shame, to waste so much of that precious time abroad, eager as I always am to grab and absorb as many impressions and experiences as I can get. Well, seems that I was wrong about that. What M. and I really did in those two sunny, party, hanging-out-doing-nothing weeks, is recharging our batteries. Preparing ourselves. Making our minds empty and ready to be overwhelmed by another overload of breathtaking moments and everlasting experiences. Booking last minute flight tickets to Cuba,which became one of the highlights of my whole trip.

Nica_TACOSTOP
Tacos in Nicaragua.

Doing nothing, being only in the moment is necessary when traveling. Especially in modern times like ours, where people run around in imaginary worlds, talking only through the phone and living second hand digital lives, standing still is essential. To be able to see more. To be able to enjoy your surroundings. To be able to taste nature and be completely inundated with it. To simply accept. To continue your travels with a clear mind and eyes wide open. Even at home, or in my case, working abroad, try to stand still and not rush through all the items you have to tick off your grocery list. Or my ‘what-to-see-in-Montenegro-before-I’m-gone-again’-list. – I ticked off quite a lot of things already, but last time I jumped in the car to see some unknown part of the country, I decided to turn around halfway. A massive hangover and too many thoughts caused my U-turn, all the way to the beach. Best decision ever.- And even though my days off are limited, as well as the time left in this amazing country, I will still go to the beach on my next day off. Just to be prepared and ready to be blown away with everything else Montenegro has to offer.

 

4 Comments

  1. You’re definitely right.. your brain is going a mile a minute constantly while abroad so breaks are always well needed after awhile! I am going to Budva and Kotor in Montenegro in September, any tips? :)

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    1. Oh, always welcome to visit me :) Are you planning to see a bit more than only Kotor and Budva, or you rather want specific tips for both cities?

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  2. If you have a car, you could first visit Kotor and do the walk all the way up the mountain, on the old city walls. The views are amazing! You might do the whole tour of the Bay, stopping in Perast and Herzeg Novi as well, where you can take a boat tour to some small islands. With the car, you can also visit Lovcen National Park, with the mausoleum in the mountains, a place that takes your breath away. And Budva, go to the beach, enjoy the warm weather, visit the old town and museum Citadela for some nice panoramas and enjoy the nightlife as well….

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