The worst day on the road is better than any day in the office I hear tell.
I run this by my memory – what have been my worst days ‘on the road?’ Are they worse than a good day in the office? What are bad days? Are your bad days different to my bad days?
The bad days I look over include one in Thailand – arriving in a city after a month on an island. It was dirty, noisy, and it seemed that most of the male tourists where there to indulge in the sex trade. However I wasn’t abusing the locals and although I didn’t like the noise, dust and heat after days on white sands – was it a bad day on the road?
A bus trip in Laos could have been a bad day. Descending rapidly from a mountain-high plain I was scared of the ancient bus that needed bricks at the wheels to help the brakes when we stopped to load more chickens, vegetables and people. But as I stopped looking out the front window and started to talk to my fellow passengers the scary trip became enjoyable. If I was about to die I was determined to live right to the last moment. Worrying about the means or the time of what appeared inevitable, my death on a mountain road, was not going to change it.
Funny but the next ‘bad day on the road’ that rises to the surface as I muse also involves transport. It was on a plane hired by Dodgy and Dodgy Airlines from Don’t Care Incorporated. Perhaps that’s an unfair description as I am sure the plane was air-worthy but the elements it was flying through made the little steel capsule feel very insignificant and even more insecure. Sheet lightning and fork lightening combined to buffet the plane and its cargo- me- in a most alarming way. The forces of nature threw us from side to side then dropped us dramatically… too quickly for my stomach to remain attached to my body. By the time it caught up with me we were off on another death-defying plunge to the background of bright lights and thunder. My seat companion says he still has finger-nail impressions in his palm – a souvenir from me to remind him of my fear.
Trust me . . . don’t fly into the Grand Canyon during the afternoons of the hot summer months. . . arrive and leave in the morning when the air is cool and calm.
Another flight, in Namibia and I’m off to see the Skeleton Coast. We take off in a slight sea mist and in minutes are engulfed in a thick white soup just as the plane has to climb over cliffs and sand dunes. I breathe deeply and pray- desperately trying to remember what the witch-doctor in Zimbabwe had told me about flying. Please, please, let the radar be working in this tiny plane I beg to whoever looks after fearful passengers. Five minutes I relax and gaze in wonder at clear skies and pink flamingos flying below us.
So are they a few worst days on the road or are they just worst moments, or in reality are they even worse? Worse than what?
To me they are just different colours on the tapestry that travel is weaving for me- a kaleidoscope of experiences that I can review when I choose.
Can’t sleep? I pull out the travel map in my mind then re-experience great moments. Lie on a warm white sand beach and listen to the sea; snorkel among the fish and see the colourful coral again in my mind’s eye.
Bored with TV? Walk through a rainforest, re-sail the Great Barrier Reef, remember the beggar who challenged me in the Rome railway station.
So the worst day travelling ?- I can’t recall one. Times of fear, moments of unease, evenings of loneliness, but not bad days.
However all those times are needed just as the days in the office are needed…to give us travellers the chance to compare and contrast our experiences, to weave some black into life to make the yellow brighter, other colours stronger. And days in the office are what give us the dollars to enjoy the days out of the office.