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Live Travel Like a Lab Rat in a Maze

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SUCHITOTO, El Salvador- Live like a lab rat in a maze, I am not joking, this is a key to travel, a key to living.

I was at a Mother’s Day festival with my wife, Chaya, and the baby. Chaya was walking in front of the baby and I. She spotted one open bench. She wanted to sit on it.

Lab Rat

With a walk of purpose, my wife made a beeline for the open bench — the only one in the entire place. Though another woman, perhaps observing my wife’s purpose, broke ranks and cut in front. The race was on.

The other woman won.

She was a real fat ass.

“I lost my nerve,” Chaya admitted.

We sat in the grass. I laid back in the shade of a tree and looked at the blue sky overhead. Petra hunted the spiders and bugs in the grass. Chaya accepted her defeat and admired her baby hunting spiders in the grass.

“She is such a litte huntress, like a she lion!!!!” my wife squealed tritely.

We had a good time in the grass. I imagined that we were having such a good time in the grass that we could not have had a better time on the bench, even if we were sitting on it.

I looked over at the bench for good measure. Fat Ass was still there. She was sitting on her fat ass, in fact. She did not nearly seem to be having as good of a time sitting upright and ridgid on the bench as we were laying back looking at the sky, enjoying each other, and hunting spiders. I began to question who really won the race.

Wade and Petra

The lesson that I learned was that when I hit a dead end — when I am beat to a bench — I should not get pissed, irate, or feel belittled — I should not give up and say, “Oh woe is Wade,” — but I should just look for another option, another path, to meet my ends. There is always another way around, always another option, and if I am always prepared for perpetually traveling in a round about, know that nothing will ever be straight forward and as easy as it should be, that struggle is just normal, and failure is not an excuse to fail, and that it really is pretty easy to just change directions and keep on going, then the Fat Ass who steals my bench has no power: I will just find fun in laying in the grass.

Life is as easy as I make it. A simple shrug combined with a set of heels that are good for spinning is all the provisions I need. Travel is just an overly literal exercise in problem solving. When traveling, you are, without metaphor, on the board of the game which you are playing. You have to figure out where you stand, decide where you want to be, and then come up with a way to get yourself there. Your path may not be the one that you plan, but all ways to a destination can be equally enjoyable.

A lab rat in a maze will hit one dead end, sniff the air for a moment, perhaps flutter a whisker or two, turd, and then just turn around and find another way. It will do this over and over again without fail until it either gets the cheese or croaks. Just so a lab rat can still smell the cheese, they will keep trying new ways to get it.

When you are after the cheese, I tell you, there is a way to get it, though the path that you travel may not be the path that you planned. The cheese is there, you just have to run through a maze, try new ways, hit dead ends, and go in many different directions before sitting down to feast. The ends of your journey may not be what you think they are either. I thought that my goal was the bench, when actually it was just to lay back and enjoy the day.

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Filed under: Central America, El Salvador, Travel Philosophy

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Cincinnati, Ohio, USAMap

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