Addicted To Travel
For a quarter of a century I went nowhere. I worked, ate, slept and saw millions of movies. The movie-viewing was part of my job and took up all my available free time. While others had gap years, unpaid travel leave and sabbaticals I was in Curzons, Odeons and my own full-size office cinema. My parents didn’t go abroad until they were elderly. As a consequence, I came to travel later in life than today’s generation.
There are disadvantages to being a late starter and making up for lost time – not for me the cenote diving or hang gliding, no white-water rafting, nothing involving thousands of tall steps (knees) although I usually give most effortful trips my best shot. And you can’t find friends to travel with because they’re all in positions of responsibility ie. none has taken a real vacation in years.
But there are advantages too. Better places to stay and fewer cash worries (the husband was once reduced to selling his flip-flops for a bar of soap in an African market – I’m glad I missed that). I’ve been caving, canoeing and glacier-climbing, ploughing through claustrophobic pyramids and leech-filled jungles, but two great chunks are missing on my map; China and Latin America.
This trip to Cuba and Mexico has started paving the way for incursions into South America. The little Spanish I’ve picked up in Catalan-speaking Barcelona has proven useless (too accented) but the local people we’ve met have proven to be helpful, kindly and so gentle-natured that I wonder if they’re the ones who should be thinking about building a wall.
As in Cuba, Mexico’s natural resources are astounding, often taken for granted or squandered, with poverty and a sense of grand-scale corruption forever just out of sight or around the next corner. For the writer, though, it’s a wellspring of fresh influences and ideas.
I had wanted to visit Tulum ever since reading ‘Trip To Tulum’ by Federico Fellini and Milo Manara, about a failed film script set in the Yucatan. I’d been to the western part of Mexico very briefly once before, but the East, with its biospheres and yoga hippies, is very different, having more in common with Goa than the traditional pueblos of the centre.
Obviously I’ve only scratched the tip of the country, but it’s enough to make me want to return. Living with someone on corporate vacation benefits means you’re only ever a holidaymaker, not a traveler – there’s no possibility of filling a backpack and taking three months off. But it’s enough to fill the mind and prepare you for the worst time of the year – Britain’s gruellingly dark winter months.
Heading for New York to meet my agent, where it’s shortly going to be snowy, then London for Christmas, and the commencement of a new book. With batteries recharged, the blank page can now be filled. In January I’ll be in Barcelona and then Ljubljana, and of course I’ll be blogging. Summer holiday ending, Christmas starts here.