Life is a beach goes the saying except around here life has been a puddle with a few rays of sunshine to brighten up the dreary, soggy days. Lucky are those who can escape to sunnier climes and I envy people who aren’t bothered by the wet winters in the pacific Northwest. I grew up with real winters, white wonderland, blue skies, hot coco and skis instead of gumboots.
I lumbered into Grammas Pub, looking for Camp who was already seated at our usual table and sat down with an exasperated sigh.
‘What’s the heavy sigh?’ Camp asked. ‘The weather getting to you?’
‘I’ve received an email from a friend this week about the 50 most popular travel destinations, anywhere from Addis Ababa to the Turks and Caicos, from Boston to Botswana. I’ve travelled a fair bit in my time, when I was a young hippie looking for adventure, later with Clare to places to recuperate from our jobs and also just to see how the other people live and function’.
‘I’ve never been a great traveler,’ Camp said, ‘but I hear it’s the ultimate drug, the effects of which linger long after the main event has passed. Travelling to me means moving on, not arriving but always in transience, the only stable component being a state of suspenseful unfamiliarity driven by curiosity, a hunger for adventure and a thirst for new experiences.’
‘It also seemed easier to travel around when we were younger, ‘I said, ‘the thirst for adventure unquenched and time an infinite commodity. Getting older seemed to take a lot longer when I was young, in fact time stood still for a few years, while I tramped indiscriminately all over the middle east, India and Nepal and gathered lasting impressions and livelong friends in places like Katmandu and Goa. I was lucky insofar as I was always able to return to my European safety and easy jobs but all I really wanted to do was leave as soon as possible again and keep moving on.’
We both concentrated on our drinks for a beat, looking out at the monochromatic, grey world in front of our pub by the water.
‘Travelling is also about getting away, running away, jumping over the fence to where the grass is greener and the days are longer, escaping dreary winters, cold weather and humdrum lives.’ Camp said. ‘Other compelling motivators for travelling are relatives and responsibilities. To get away from both can have therapeutic and liberating effects. Just to get out of reach of electronic gadgets and needy family members is enough reason to embark on a jungle expedition to Borneo. Relatives and responsibilities seem so much more manageable from a distance.’
‘I see, the old cynic is back,’ I said. ‘Travelling today for me means going to familiar and comfortable places, places where I know people, where I’m treated as an equal and where the sun shines in the winter,’ I said. ‘I’m not interested any longer to visit countries and cultures where I’m treated as an infidel, a pariah, a rich white intruder or a neo-colonialist.’
‘Ok, that eliminates most of the Arab and Muslim world, the middle-east, large parts of India and China and Africa, which leaves North America, Europe and some parts of South East Asia, Central and South America.’
‘That’s about right,’ I said, ‘and some islands in the Caribbean as well as Australia and New Zealand.’
Vicky, always vigilant replaced our empties with two full pints.
‘Done any travelling to exotic places?’ Camp asked her.
‘Been to Nelson, Seattle and once to Cabo San Lucas for a week,’ she said.
‘Did you like Cabo?’ I asked, having been there myself many moons ago.
‘Don’t remember much. It was an all-inclusive resort which meant we started drinking Margaritas after breakfast. I remember a nasty sunburn and a hangover.’
‘That’s not called travelling Vicky’, Camp said., ‘that’s called a holiday.’
‘In that case I haven’t really been anywhere, but then people always tell me that the Sunshine Coast is the best place in the world, so why go anywhere else?’