VILNIUS, Lithuania- I read this scene in a Vonnegut book when I was a kid that featured the protagonist standing in some airport reading down the list of impending departures. He went through the cities, checking them off one by one, until coming to Guayaquil.
Guayaquil? Why not? He bought a ticket.
There was something about this simple scene that left a lifelong impression on me. The act of just showing up at an airport and selecting a destination almost at random seemed the epitome of freedom. I was awed, and I decided that when I grew up I’d strive for that freedom too.
It didn’t take long. At 19 I was in the streets of Guayaquil, and for the next handful of years I picked destinations on the map as senselessly as showing up at an airport and plucking a city at random. In those days, a pretty photo was enough to send me off to the other side of the world; I would show up and bus stations and ask for tickets to cities that I didn’t even know existed until I read their names on the placard moments before.
That’s what travels were like for the first, largely unrecorded, era of this vagabond journey.
Things have changed over the years — I’ve given myself reasons to travel…
But this foray into the Baltics has been nothing if not random. I travel for about two to four hours in the morning (or ride a night bus), show up in a new place, walk around a little, find a cafe, work a while, walk around for a while, find a bar, work for a while.
I work full time, but I figure that I’d rather do it in Riga, Tallinn, Helsinki, and Vilnius than sitting smug in some office somewhere.
The morning location shift is something that I haven’t practiced regularly for long time. I have to say I missed it. It’s a different type of travel where the emphasis is on the motion rather than on any particular place. You just build this rhythm where cities resonate like beats on a drum. You’re always moving, stopping just to sleep, and this is the point, the essence, and the intrigue.
I guess you could call this binge travel.