I Have to Begin Somewhere

I wanted to call this blog something along the lines of ‘Bag Lady Travels’. I even wrote my first post on this subject. But then I did some research and found that there are a couple of blogs of a similar name already, written by women who are generally travelling around, living out of a bag.  (There is also one which is only about bags….  Nice handbags, not rucksacks and camera bags.) At the moment, that post remains in the draft file.

I then thought of about a hundred other names for my blog.

This time I checked them out before I wrote anything.

Each was taken.

Was I just thinking of the everyday and the mundane?  Instead of being unusual and clever?

Or do I just have to accept that my brain thinks like everyone else does when it comes to choosing names for a travel blog?

Did I mention that this is a travel blog? Yes, another travel blog. The internet is full of them.

At least the bag-lady-blog-writers seem to keep their lively blogs up-to-date with photos and interesting posts. So many of the other travels blogs I came across were unused or consisted only of apologetic posts saying that the writer was so sorry that they hadn’t written anything for ages and they would do much better, they promised. Dated 2011. Why keep a great blog name if you are not going to use it? I am slightly infuriated by their lack of consideration towards me.

(Did I mention that this is my first blog post? And therefore I have no way of knowing if I will manage to keep posting regularly?)

Then there were the other travel blogs which seemed to be peopled by couples called Darleen and Curt, who post smiley-coupley photos, and seem to just want to present their holiday itinerary in a gloating way. One such blog seemed to simply list cities in Italy.

I finally decided on ‘En Route to Nowhere’ (and then agonized for ages as to whether that should be ‘Somewhere’). But I like the Talking Heads echo, and the Frenchness reminds me of one of the greatest and fastest annual journeys – Le Tour de France.

It took me many years to realise that I was a traveller. It wasn’t really something which any of my friends did. The notion of a gap year was only just beginning to be mentioned in the media as something which the offspring of wealthy parents were doing when I was the age that most people are now setting off. Holidays-which-involved-a-lot-of-travelling is probably how I would have described my adventures. My experience was limited to Europe, which wasn’t real travel, was it? I mean, you can reach it by train and ferry, much like other parts of Scotland. It was only when I travelled to other continents, met other travellers who were not European, that I realised that it was real travel after all. And pretty exotic too.

When does travelling become travelling, and stop being a holiday? Is it to do with the route of the journey? The getting there in terms of the length of time taken and the method of travel? Or perhaps it is to do with how long is spent away from your original point of origin? Perhaps it is something to do with the mind-set of the person travelling? Or something else?

Some travellers seem to delight in adopting a travellers’ costume – beads and brightly coloured clothes that they would never wear in their home country. Facial piercings, tribal tattoos, and unruly hair – perhaps dyed or dreaded, or braided. Or simply never washed. Bare feet or ugly sandals. And an innate need to talk and talk and talk about where they’ve been, saying how ‘awesome’ such and such a place is and how you must go there soon, before it gets spoiled. But that another place is well avoided – too many tourists. More lists. A lot of boasting. But I never get the impression that many of them actually enjoy the otherness surrounding them, reveling instead in the carnival of the community of like-minded travellers. And to be honest, many of them intimidate me.

Lao Tzu said ‘A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving’. (I tried to use this as a blog name – already taken, each different section of the quote.) I had to learn that destinations were not always all that significant (although somewhere dry, quiet and comfy to sleep always is). The fluidity of the means of getting there – or not – were more important. Most import of all was being myself, reacting as myself to new people, to unknown situations, and fresh challenges. In all my dreams of travel, I had been some kind of caricature of myself. But truly being myself in another country where I didn’t know the language or the customs, where I was ill from the food or ran out of money – that was when I learned what it truly was to be myself.

Travel became a craving, something which was a part of my identity.

And now I want to write about travelling, but I want to do it on my own terms. While I admire people who can post as they travel around, I know that I don’t have the discipline. So these are stories and observations from my travels. Big events and small details – things which have stayed with me.

But I promise never to apologise for not having written anything for the past 12 months (even if I haven’t).

I promise never to just post lists of cities from some random country.

And I definitely promise never to pose in a photograph with Darleen and Curt, however much they may beg me to.







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