Some recollections of my travels across South America remain vivid several years later. Deep blue skies without a cloud, the foggy breath of an alpaca in the frigid air, the smell of bitter but rich Colombian coffee, the multi-coloured textiles hung over balconies… sights so stunning, details so rich that they’ve left a groove in my mind, like scar tissue.
Jack and I were both so excited to be visiting this impossibly different continent, the stresses of a full time job forgotten by the time we descended the plane. With only a vague idea of which countries we were going to visit, we could change direction at a moment’s notice and anything was possible. Six months of just us two, no demands from bosses, pets, family or friends.
I was nervous for Jack, he’d never ventured beyond Australia or New Zealand and here I had coerced him into joining me on a six-month adventure across South America. But he took to it better than I could have ever hoped, surpassing my pre-travel Spanish language classes within a few weeks, to the point that he was teaching me correct pronunciation, mingling with ease in hostels and introducing me to his new friends.
It was interesting to watch him go through that funny process of ‘learning to travel’. In the beginning he refused to buy bus tickets and let me lead the way, obviously feeling uncomfortable in this culture he didn’t know. And then the culture shock wore off, and he was suddenly in his element.
In many ways Jack was a better traveller than I, where I would get lost, he would use the position of the sun to guide him through sprawling cities. He would chat with locals with ease despite learning the basics of the Spanish language just a few weeks earlier. I’ll admit, I was a little envious. I had hoped to play the part of the well-travelled mentor for just a little longer.
Later I queried him on whether travel is what he expected and he replied honestly that he didn’t know what to expect, he had resisted googling much at all about South America before travelling there and everything was freshly experienced without previous opinion or expectation.
Yes, definitely a better traveller than I.
P.S. This post is in honour of today’s date.