You can never get to the end of travel, but you can spend a lifetime trying.
JOBOS BEACH, Isabella, Puerto Rico- I was watching the sun set from Jobos Beach — the best beach — and I figured this was as good a place as any to make my decision.
These travels to Puerto Rico began with a question — a question that I had been wondering about for the past three years, a question that became high time to finally answer. As the world is now open again and I can go back to traveling the world freely — just as I had for 20 years before — did I still want to?
The border closings, restrictions, and general mindfuckery of the “pandemic” had done a number on me. I have to admit it, I didn’t take it well. However, I did take it like a traveler.
When a road becomes impassable en route to your destination you have three choices:
- To fight — to try to break through to the other side and get to where you’re going by any means necessary.
- To sulk — to throw your arms up, complain, and give up.
- To do something else — to shrug, say oh well, and find somewhere else to go.
While some travelers admirably swam upstream and fought the pandemic, I’d have to say that the third option is usually best. If you can’t go one way, you go another … because the object usually isn’t getting there but simply to keep going. Destinations, goals, are just necessary waypoints to ensure that you remain in motion — motion, in the figurative sense. Actually getting there is not what’s of essence.
I applied this logic to the pandemic, shrugged, and just did something else.
I saw not being able to travel as an opportunity to do some of the things that I’ve always wanted to but couldn’t because I was always on the road. Things like start a film company. Or have a film studio. Or simply to be able to have all the gear that I would need to actually make films that look good. You simply cannot fit all of this stuff into a backpack:
And it wasn’t too bad.
I actually kind of liked it.
I actually kind of liked it so much that I eventually stopped champing at the bit to leave.
I actually kind of didn’t know if I even liked traveling anymore:
Part of this apprehension comes from a trip to Mexico I took with my wife last year. We went to a fun, niche resort in Cancun, and then traveled like normal to Tulum. While I enjoyed the time with my wife, the travel experience was horrible. I didn’t find charm in the grimy bus stations, I didn’t feel relaxed riding in busses on packed highways that seriously went slower than bicycles, I found the restaurants barf-able and and the taxis offensively overpriced. I didn’t enjoy the journey — and I had no idea how I ever could have for a 20 year block of life. I wasn’t sure if I had entered another phase of life that I couldn’t come back from or if Tulum really is that bad.
So I came to Puerto Rico to find out. My plan was as it always was in the old days when I just traveled for no reason: to not have a plan. It was a mission to see if I still enjoyed the travel part of travel. The few years of my travels before the pandemic I was mostly traveling on journalism projects for Forbes or the Guardian. It wasn’t really about travel but … yes, the destination. I got in, got out, published. I now wanted to find out if I could just go and sit on some beaches, have casual conversations, and chase stories that were completely journalistically irrelevant … and enjoy doing so.
I sat out on that beach at Jobos and watched one the most magnificent sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life:
How could I not want to keep going?
We live on a beautiful planet. Every single day there are myriad places here that have sunsets just like this. Travel can be deduced to the intent to experience all that is beautiful about the world. It’s too easy to forget this.
You can never get to the end of travel. You can never finish it, graduate, retire. You can never go everywhere, but you can spend a lifetime trying.
These travels to Puerto Rico may have been just what I needed.