I don’t believe you, but I love you anyway
They tell me this is one planet. All the same one. But I’m not sure I believe them.
Because I remember walking down a backstreet in San Salvador, where children stopped their futbol game (played with a clump of garbage) to watch me pass, grandmothers winked at me, everyone said hello, and laundry hung to dry on rusting barbed wire.
There was exhaust, and constant noise, and a large plate of food cost about $3. It was warm to hot, and I needed no vocabulary beyond T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. Violence was a very real possibility and twenty-dollar bills were too large to use most places, tens were pushing it.
But today I rode around in a car, since you can’t really walk around Iceland at present, and the sky opened up with an array of things that were all irrefutably snow. People are all friendly, but there is a distance between strangers that even I can feel, I who seemed aloof to the Salvadoran sensibility of space. The cold has perhaps hardened cheeks into a habitual emotional reserve? Or something about long months of darkness, of light, or of the relentless need to work together?
The barbed wire here is clean, and serves only to remind the shaggy ponies that they shouldn’t wander into the street. A small plate of food, elegantly arranged, three slices of lamb and some decorations around the perimeter was about $40.
$40? According to this site’s data on minimum wages in El Salvador, that would be about a third of a month’s salary for an agricultural worker. For a small meal. Ten long days’ work, one tasty but unsatisfying plate.
They tell me this is one planet, but I’m not sure I believe them.
But I can tell Them, one planet of more, I love it all. I love the noise of San Salvador, and the silence of an Icelandic field at night. I love wandering a hill town past indigena women in colorful skirts, and bundling up with the armored layers against the cold. I love cheese and ham on toast, and pupusas. I love the hearty belly laughs of latinos, and the hard-won smiles of pleased Nords. And I love, beyond love, the chance to come and see as much of it as I can.
I love travel. I love this planet. Hell, I love you too.
Loved reading it !
Thanks! I love that you loved it! 😉
Iceland! I so want to go there. And yes possibly a contrast or five with your previous destination.
Indeed! (On both counts.) I’m glad I did it in that order, since walking around El Salvador with the memory of $45 modest plates of food would have given me a guilt complex. As it was, I just had to try not to be a reverse snob, going on and on about how “In most countries…”
But it’s a surreal awareness, no matter how often you have it.
Aw, well, gosh, we’ve just met and our relationship… oh well alright then I love you too 😉 .
No, but I like this post. Definitely speaks to what is sometimes a bizarre experience, juxtaposing two completely different corners of the planet via the magic of commercial flights. And just the joy of being there.
Exactly it. That bizarrely easy movement between worlds, so quick and easy. When you do it within a city, by going from, say, a barrio to a country club, you can see it as somehow homogeneous, or understand the dichotomy in terms of social inequality, and all that good stuff. But to hop between completely different paradigms, completely different experiences of life…by sitting in a (relatively) comfy chair for a few hours? Too weird.
The more I travel, the more I feel airplanes are somehow antagonistic to the Art of Travel, at least as I understand and love it. But that’s a post for another time.
They’re like a sort of magic door. But they do give you a sort of reset period to brace yourself for changed expectations.
We went overland from London to Hong Kong about ten years ago. Somewhere in the middle of Siberia all the gradual changes suddenly struck us all at once. It was a bit of a shock.
London to Hong Kong overland? Impressive! Now that’s an adventure. Planes make the world so incredibly small. In some ways, that’s a good thing, with accessibility and perhaps an increased feeling of kinship? (Maybe being naive on that one.) But on the other, the immensity of this planet is something to be celebrated and experienced. Arriving someplace after a long bus ride feels more substantial, and better yet: a walking tour appeals to me most of all. But walking around the world? Hmm. Maybe I should have started when I was 10. 😉
Oh we didn’t walk. But we didn’t fly either. Definitely agree about the bus rides, and just imaging folk having this conversation about horses vs foot travel back in the day.
Ha! I hadn’t thought about that… “Horses are too fast, you miss the experience!” I’ve moved far enough to the other end of the locomotion spectrum to legitimize not just feet, but horses, camels, and…um…dolphin chariots?
Railway then? Trans-Siberian? That’s another of the journeys in the To Do File…
Well, technically, over long distances and on certain terrain, human feet are faster than horses anyway:
But of course in times of old you changed horses for a series of sprints along worn roads, so let’s let it stand.
Yes, a lot was done by railway, and also bus. The trans-siberian was indeed involved. I have never been able to decide if it’s “better” to stop off, like we did, to enjoy the variety of locations along the route, or to do the whole journey in one hit to get a sort of magic-train effect with Asia morphing into Europe (or vice versa) as you watch out the window. So we’ll have to do it again, but the other way this time.
Visitor from Holistic Wayfarer’s site. She forwarded me your like, although I think you liked her about, not the post on race that features me. Anyway, I’m glad I read this post because I love your take on different cultures. Having traveled extensively myself, albeit when I was young and unappreciative, I know the differences of which you speak so poetically. I think your outlookrocks, so open and embracing. I invite you to check out my blog in April (cardamonefive.wordpress.com) as the theme is happiness. I think you’ll be able to relate as you strike me as a very happy person!
I’m glad she sent my like along the channel, nice to e-meet you! I like your blog a lot, and look forward to reading the April alphabet of happiness, happy writing!
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