1. Language is no barrier to the human connection
From the beautiful Colombian family who took me in and stumbled through so many broken spanish conversations with incredible warmth and generosity to the cheeky smiling kids in Salasaca who I could play with for hours without us ever really understanding the words spoken. Language only stops us connecting to each other when we let it. The smiles and gestures of a person can radiate openess, willingness and hapiness without uttering a single word.
2. No plan is (almost) always the best plan
Every single one of the greatest moments in my travel have been unplanned. From the crazy festivals to the beautiful sunsets, to the erupting volcanoes. In fact even right now I’m in Nicaragua a place I never planned to be. In travel as in life you never really know what will happen. So much of what happens to each and every one of us we cannot forsee. It is in actively not planning or being ready to change your predetermined plans that you can discover amazing things you never knew existed. You can learn to appreciate what you have in the here and now, maybe it’s not what you planned but something far more spectacular.
3. Always go your own way
In Paris my best moment was not at the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe. It was sitting in a beautiful, rustic café on a cobblestoned street sipping coffee and eating a freshly baked croissant. It wasn’t what everyone else was doing but it was what I wanted to do. Your experiences in life and in travel are yours alone, screw what everyone else thinks and go your own way.
4. Time is a gift, don’t waste it
I really struggled while travelling and more so when working at quiet jobs to overcome my boredom. But I have since realised that time, especially time free of pressures and distractions, is a gift. Time to dream, to write, to learn, to mediate, to be creative and to try new things. This time we should use and we should cherish.
5. Work really does feed the soul
It is hard when your working every day to really see any value in work except for earning money, this was true for me anyway, I only saw work as a means to save for the important things in life, travel and beer. But since travelling I have had long periods of time without work and when I did finally get to it, I realised that working, even the mundane kind, is food for the soul. When working I felt more satisfied, inspired and alive. But more so then that I was able to enjoy and appreciate my free time so much more. A day off is far more enjoyed when it is deserved and a cold beer after work always tastes that much sweeter.
6.You should only ever really compete with yourself I have found myself at many times in my life comparing myself to others and feeling in some way lacking. On this trip I felt it the most stongly while trying to master spanish, there were always people better than me so I would feel disheartened and want to give up. But the day I realised that I only have to be a little better than I was yesterday, not anyone else just me, was the day I started to make some real progress. In the great words of the sunscreen song
Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes your ahead, sometimes you’re behind, the race is long and in the end it’s only with yourself