I have never really given much thought to how I plan my journeys, what countries I go to, or the number of lands I have ventured in. Rather, I have usually just traveled to what ever place strikes my fancy at any given time. A look at the cover of a book, an off-handed comment in a conversation, or a simple thought or a passing reminiscence is enough to send me to the far side of the planet. The intuition that emerges out of a blank morning-time mind has always been my guiding grace. But having this website and writing so often of my travels has made me slightly more conscious of my methods of travel.
Planning on going over to El Salvador for only a week makes me realize how much my traveling style has changed over the years. When I first began traveling, I would have never of thought about going through the hassles of crossing a border to only visit a country for a few days. Many times I have skirted various borderlands without even a thought of crossing into a new country if I were not planning on staying for at least a month. In my first seven years of travel, I had only been to around 25 countries. This is an amazingly low number. But I really wanted to take a good look at some pretty big places: China, India, the Andes Mountains . . . and I kept returning to these regions in rapid succession for a couple of years each.
My traveling style was nothing in these days if not regionally intensive. I opted to obtained a very good working knowledge of one region of the world before moving on to another. I had no thought or care for how many countries I visited, nor any notion of the bragging rights that could be had from visiting a large amount of countries. My traveling was very slow.
But in the past year my travel motives have changed a little, and I have upped my country count by around 40%. I think that I am at around 35 countries now. I do not really know how this has happened. It has occurred to me that I may be running out of large countries that I can travel in for years on end. Or maybe I just want to up my pace a little? But maybe, just maybe, Loren Everly’s travel strategy has had a slight influence on me?
I love meeting other travelers. You can learn a lot from your brethren, from others in “the profession.” I like to talk shop, I like to talk about traveling. I like reading about traveling, writing about traveling, dreaming about traveling, and thinking about traveling. Regrettably, I have met very few travelers in my wanderings who also like to talk about travel in this somewhat romantic capacity. I have found that most of the conversations in back-packer locales seem to revolve around bars, girls, soccer, or politics. I have nothing to offer to any of these topics. So I stay quiet. But when I do meet a fellow who is really “On the Road” I am sure to keep my ears open to all that they say, as I know that I am sure to learn a lot from them. When I met Loren Everly, I milked him for all the travel-shop talk that I could. It lasted me from Mongolia to Vietnam.
Loren has been traveling for a long time. He is a traveler. But I found that his ways of travel are a little different than my own. It seems to me that Loren travels in spurts and stops.
The spurt and stop travel method:
To travel very quickly through many countries or regions of the world to just gain an initial impression – a surface feel – of what is out there and then return to the countries you like for longer stays.
I digested this philosophy and decided that it is good for travelers who want to travel the world as well as really get to know the parts of it that leave indelible impressions. To stay make extended stays in only the places that you like just makes sense. Perhaps you also cannot really know what countries you like unless you first travel through them.
I think that I now want a more balanced view of planet earth. I feel as if my current impressions are a little astray because there are many regions of the world that I have not yet stepped foot in. I am becoming a little restless, I think that I want to travel quicker. At least for a little while. I think that I am ready for a “spurt.”
I think that I want to go on one of those “around-the-world” journeys that you read about in the travel books of old. A long term, continuous line of travel that is guided only by initiative and happenstance. I have not done this before. Before now, I have been traveling the world region by region. I think that it is now time to girdle the mid-section of the globe. I like the way that it feels to be in perpetual motion, where the only thing that is constant is my own movement. This is one of the greatest feelings of long hikes through mountains – you are always moving on a continuous path: you wake up, break camp, walk, stop for lunch, walk, eat dinner, make camp, go to sleep. It is like the rhythm of life in microcosm. Always moving, always changing. Perhaps this is why pilgrimages are made up of routes that are traveled continuously.
I think that the human mind is especially adapted to this kind of movement, the beat of one’s feet is strikingly similar to that of one’s thoughts. The romantic words and great philosophies of our times have come from those who have walked. Our prophets knew the value and purity that is found in traveling. Chatwin once wrote that a great religion has never come out of a sedentary population. It is true, the prophets, mystics, and poets were walkers.
Perhaps the human mind craves the gentle rhythm of walking on never ending paths. I must conclude that Wisdom is walked, not reasoned.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Copan Ruinas, Honduras
March 17, 2008