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Photo by Marilynn Windust

“You guys are living the life. You’ve got it made.” Throughout our travels we hear these sentiments from many different folks. We are and we do. We live in a state of appreciation. But why do we love to travel? I don’t know…so I researched “travel,” the word.

An ancient root from the Latin word tripalium means to impale with three stakes, as in torture. Later, the French root travail, or travailen means to torment, labor strenuously, journey, toil and struggle. Hmm…50 Shades of Travel? Perhaps I don’t want to know why we love travel.

Here’s an example of a day in the life of a traveler, which is just as typical as seeing wonderful things and meeting beautiful people:

Mare and I board a 20-hour bus from Livingstone, Zambia to Windhoek, Namibia. The bus gets so full of passengers that there remains no seat for the extra driver. He ends up sleeping below the bus in the luggage compartment.

Being the only white people on board, we get another glimpse of what it feels like to be a minority. Of course, we’re in Africa. The man sitting behind Mare is too huge for the seat. Mare cannot lean her seat back at all. I argue with him a bit, but he’s too huge for that also.

As soon as the bus leaves the station, our backs soak with sweat during this hot, bumpy ride. The road is long and straight, and elephants cross on occasion. An awful movie blares. It begins with white cops chasing and beating up a black thief. Great. Then, it develops into something about cops getting way in to God, and end up practicing loving forgiveness. (Science fiction?)

Four hours later we all disembark to walk about a mile in the hot African sun, between various Immigration and Customs buildings. We swipe our feet on chemically soaked rugs to prevent spread of “hoof and mouth” disease. This practice occurs at least four times during the twenty-hour trip. I begin to look forward to it, to break the monotony.

At the Namibian border, we are screened for Ebola by standing sideways, while a woman shoots a ray gun at each of us. Then we receive a torn piece of cardboard with a number written on it. Apparently, that means we do not have Ebola and can enter Namibia.

Ten hours into the ride, the black of night cloaks the windows. Mare cannot lean her seat back, so falling asleep means that her head drops forward. She lays her head on my lap, and stretches those long legs straight up in the air against the window. Mare sleeps. Lucky devil.

My knees ache. Back still wet with sweat. Neck is tied in knots, and leg where Mare’s head lies is totally numb, but I don’t have the heart to wake her. My ass feels like someone has scrubbed it with sandpaper, and my elbows are rubbed raw from the arm rests. Then, as soon as I close my eyes, the final movie blares louder than any other – “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

The screeching sound of singing chipmunks in the darkness for two hours is surreal. That “Hula Hoop” song stays stuck in my head for days.

Twenty hours later, we arrive in Windhoek. It’s six o’clock in the morning and we can’t check in to the hostel room until noon. We walk the streets, mainly waiting for a “decent” time to have a beer. Time of day matters little at this point. Finally, in the room and out of our clothes, a shower has never felt so good.

The strange thing about “travel” is that we love it. I’m not sure what that says about us, but we live in a state of appreciation for all of life’s experiences. Well maybe not all… sometimes it simply feels good to stop.

Why do we travel? Most often, a pay-off comes with it. In this case, the following day we rent a car for an exhilarating ride on remote gravel roads, and end up in a safari tent at Desert Camp, outside of Namib-Naukluft Park. Unworldly landscape and monstrous dunes blow us away. Perhaps we travel just because we like to see different stuff.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

We’re living the life and we got it made. Thank you, Abundant Universe!  Ron Mitchell

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ah reminds me of a.very long day riding local buses across Costa Rica and realizing at one point I was the only non-local. Arrived after dark and the one recommended pensione was closed…but this is about your great post. Thanks for the thought -provoking words. Perhaps it’s all about karma. Safe travels!

    February 26, 2015
  2. Jill, arriving in a foreign land at night adds a whole new element of angst for sure! I’d love to hear the rest of your story. I respect karma too. It feels pretty natural.

    February 26, 2015
    • Ha, someday I will finish the essay I wrote about it and share….in the meantime, I’m here to tell the tale.
      Be well! Hope to see you in the year ahead.

      February 27, 2015
  3. Connie Oliver #

    Another perspective of a traveler! Thank you Rob and Mare for letting us all enjoy your adventures with you. Take care a care package will be waiting for you in March! Enjoy your trip and see you soon! Connie

    Sent from my iPhone


    February 26, 2015
    • A care package? You intrigue me, Connie Oliver. We’ll be hiking together soon, I hope!

      February 26, 2015
  4. ma, pa, and jackeroo #

    Good writing Ron…… life is a mystery,eh? Stay safe.

    February 26, 2015
    • Thanks, Ma! We don’t know what’s ahead, only what has passed – the rental car guy said to me when I asked if he thought that I would get a flat tire.

      February 26, 2015
  5. I am of the opinion that our lives, no matter what path or how we choose to travel through it, is destined to provide hope and inspiration to others. And to that end there are no coincidences, as each connection we make shows us how to accomplish this. It gives us those “ah ha” moments. So I love that you travel, because though today was -11 degrees, I had time to ride a bus through the African desert. I saw an elephant and huge colorful escarpments, got a creek in my neck and, as i write this, (strangely) I hear the hula hoop song in my head. Thankfully, I escaped the cold many times this winter.

    February 26, 2015
    • You inspire me, thank you! Travel with us any time you wish. Yes, I believe that we’re all connected, as part of this earth.

      February 26, 2015
  6. Skip #

    well…….Glad I was NOT on that bus ride!!!! Adventure, yes…torture, NO!!

    See you guys soon?? before you head to Alaska??

    February 26, 2015
  7. dmhazlett #

    I am of the belief that our lives, no matter how we choose to TRAVEL through it, is for the purpose of enriching people’s lives with hope and inspiration. And to that end, there are no coincidences because any connection we make along the way is a glimpse into how we accomplish this. That realization gives us those “ah-ha” moments. I love that you travel and share your experiences because though today was -11 degrees F, I still had time to ride a bus through the African Desert, see an elephant impeding the path, huge colorful escarpments, got a creek in my neck and (strangely) all with the hula hoop song playing in my head. Thankfully I have escaped the cold many times this winter.

    February 26, 2015
  8. It is hard to explain exactly why we travel. I think it’s because I always learn something — about myself, a place, or a people — and nothing excites me more than learning and new experiences. To each his own, right? My mother doesn’t understand why I love it so much, but I do.

    February 27, 2015
    • I know what you mean. We can’t explain it precisely. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons we like it, who knows? It seems that one either likes traveling or does not.

      February 27, 2015
  9. Lauren Vargas #

    I found your note and your blog! Great stuff. And great meeting you both today. Hope you liked the story!

    April 16, 2015

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