August 26, 2011
It has been exactly 1 year, 3 weeks, and 2 days since I was last in Uganda, and boy have I felt every day of it. Since my great friend Alex recently stole this blog post idea from someone else, I figured I’d join in on the chain and steal the idea for myself on the one year anniversary of my staying put. So here you have it folks, seven big things I have learned about myself (and the world) – my seven traveling truths.
I travel by taste. I’ve found that acquainting myself with local food, street vendors, and markets is one of the best ways to get to know a place. Food staples and cooking styles often speak a lot to the way of life in a certain place. For example, much of the food in Uganda is designed to fill you up for a long time – like kal (millet bread) or matooke (crushed plantains). I’ve also found that the most delicious meals are had in friends (or strangers) homes. There’s nothing quite like being gorged on traditional Ugandan food and then taking the long way home to walk off a few (hundred) extra calories.
2. I come out of my shell.
It’s true that traveling breaks down some personal barriers and allows you to feel comfortable with things that you might not have before. A prime example of this is my inner haggler that comes out when being cheated by a matatu conductor. Sure, it’s only 10 cents to me, but it’s the principle of the thing, right?!
3. I uncover some truths about myself.
I find myself challenged to uncover who I really am. Without my friends, comfort foods, technology, or familiar surroundings I find myself having to peel back the layers to who I really am with all of that distraction getting in the way. Sometimes I’ve been disappointed in the truth about myself while at other times I’ve been impressed with my ability to keep my composure in challenging situations. Usually I’ve had to dig deep and uncover talents and skills I never knew I had.
4. I miss home.
I’d like to think of myself as the big macho traveler who never gets homesick, but like Alex, I find myself gaining a much greater appreciation for my home and how it’s connected to the rest of the world. While before Knoxville might have seemed like a po-dunk town with too many rednecks (well it often is), I also found myself reflecting on a chic Appalachian city with a fascinating history and cultural life to be proud of.
5. I enjoy medium sized cities.
I find that I get bored easily in the country side, but if I have a nice medium sized city with things to do plus amenities and not too much traffic, I am in heaven. Small towns tend to be too difficult to penetrate into the real fabric of the place whereas a city has many different aspects from which to fit in or discard. It’s nice to have the choices.
6. I love history and ruins – mostly ruins.
I seek out historic monuments or sites in almost every place I visit. It makes me feel more connected to a place when I can get familiar with how and why it was built, what happened there in the past, and most of all – who built it. When I went to Antigua, Guatemala in 2009 I couldn’t have cared less about the infamous jade – I wanted to see the ruins on the outskirts of town!
7. I don’t get car sick.
Here I get car sick at the drop of a hat. I’m that friend that sticks her head out the window and demands that the AC be turned on full blast in order to avoid puking my guts out on your fine leather seats. But abroad I can withstand the longest, bumpiest, hottest, most crowded bus ride without the slightest bit of nausea.
Those are my seven traveling truths… what are yours? Here’s to more adventures and more blog topics in the exciting year to come!