We all know that traveling is, of course, a privilege. It gives us the chance to learn about other cultures, to see the world´s beauty, to experience new things, and to meet people we otherwise wouldn´t. It is the ultimate learning opportunity, teaching us many more lessons than our textbooks or teachers, or even our parents can instill in us. And while the joie de vivre that comes over us on any given travel day is undoubtedly present, there is another side to traveling that can creep up when we least expect it.
It´s that ¨how rude was that desk clerk?¨… ¨I missed my train by 5 minutes and now have to wait 6 hours¨ … ¨what do you mean my credit card won´t work?¨… ¨how could a human being steal something so easily?¨ … moment. I can tell you that throughout the past two months or so, variations of these events have happened time and time again (as is expected). It´s the price you pay with traveling. As a foreigner in a new city you are left without a clue at times, with nothing but intelligence and hope that the person you´re about to ask for help, will kindly oblige.
In Romania, we were verbally attacked by a man at the train station, who, we later found out, did the same to many other tourists who passed him (in fact, he uttered the exact same threatening words to a guy staying at our nearby hostel). In Rome, we were left with no choice but to sit outside the train station watching TV on our laptop very early in the morning (due to interrupted train schedules and no hotels willing to take us), and we found ourselves in the middle of a police chase after two men stole our computer in what I´m sure you can imagine was a very aggressive scenerio (by the way, we ended up sending them to jail for 1 year and 10 months – but never got our laptop back).
The reason I´m writing about these experiences rather than those I have scrupulously photographed, and those that make me smile, is because they have taught me a great deal about traveling. Of course, there are the obvious lessons that come straight to everyone´s mind (hi mom), like 1) Always be aware of your surroundings, 2) Be cautious, 3) Avoid train stations relentlessly. And yes of course, each occasion was a quick wake up call for every one of our cautionary intuitions. But the aftermath of it all…the moment the situation has passed and you are left once more with new cities to explore, filled with strangers and different cultural tendencies, you can find yourself feeling more lost than ever, and wanting nothing but the neighborhood you call home.
The quality we´ve learnt to possess throughout our travels is to stay positive, to move forward, to keep it all together, and to find a place that feels friendly and comfortable (which is, of course, easier than this post portrays). A rude local or an overpriced tourist trap, and yes, even a stolen laptop, can ruin an afternoon if you let it, but the way to make it all okay, is to have the right attitude. And isn´t that just how life works? The person who revels in positivity will always prevail, not because of karma, or some higher being watching our every move, but because a day spent huffing and puffing is one less day spent relishing everything this life has to offer. In a nutshell :)