February 20, 2006

Cup of Tea, Sit in a Comfy Chair

Pouring rain here in Tena. The socked in, foggy downpour kind that looks like it might be here to stay for a few hours.
It’s not often that I have wanted to make a cup of tea in the jungle, especially at midday. By now the heat is usually oppressive and hard to bear, the last thing you want is a hot beverage. Today is different, and I’m contemplating what to do with myself. To escape the heat, I go to the river, but right now that doesn’t seem quite as appealing to me.
Part of the challenge for me while being away from home is learning to relax, and be at peace with having nothing to do. Nowhere to be, no projects to finish, no work to do or plan, no cleaning to do…it’s freedom in every sense of the word, once you manage break free from yourself, and more importantly, your expectations.
I am, admittedly, not a very good tourist. I prefer to live in a place, find routines, and be a part of what’s going on in one place. Hopping from city to city, country to country, culture to culture is not my cup of tea. I usually find a place I like and settle in, and prefer to make my observations of that place over a longer period of time. It seems ironic, then, that I would have a hard time relaxing when being in one place is my preferred MO; one would think I would really enjoy the everchanging scenery that comes with being more a more nomadic traveler.
For me, traveling isn’t only about seeing other places, but is more about discovering parts of myself while in another place. Parts of me I didn’t know were there, that I may or may not like or accept. The learning comes in truly seeing these sides for what they are, when they show themselves, and deciding whether or not to let them emerge more regularly or often. It involves cultivating a growth that would probably not happen at home, immersed in comforts and excess of modern society, your native tongue, and familiar systems.
So for now, today, I will do my best to relax, hang out, and think. I will look inward a bit and explore myself as I might the Ecuadorian countryside, a journey that is far more arduous than even the gnarliest Andean terrain. It is an adventure that requires more courage and patience, no expectations, just an open mind. And sitting still, in a comfy chair (ok, maybe not, it's a plastic lawn chair), sipping tea in the middle of the day, as I would in NW wintery weather, is a good a place as any to begin.

No comments: