I wandered over to Indonesia for a few days. Y’know, ‘cos I can. And because someone else organised it so all I had to do was hand over money and show up.
I spent two nights at a “beach resort”, which I think roughly translates to “slightly daggy but comfortably modest cabin within walking distance to ocean”. While I was there I chased massive monitor lizards (bigger than my arm), duck and wove under trees in case they were housing man-eating pythons (seriously), lounged by the pool slathered in sunscreen (I remain glowing white, never fear), and received a massage so strong that I still can’t raise my right arm past mid-way or sleep on my back.
This is not typical “travelling” for me. I usually lug my camera about and take thousands of photos, visit everything (especially if it’s free), and try to sample local food and culture. Instead, I lounged.
I’ve done this once before with a friend in Malaga (Spain). We spent a week by the beach. The most movement we made was the trek between the beach back to the hotel, via the tapas bar and Mojitos. When we got to Seville we were convinced we’d do something different. And we did – we lounged by the pool and had the Mojitos delivered.
I don’t think this is a bad thing. Sure, the idea of travelling is to experience new things and challenge your comfort zone around food, culture, and activities. But the idea of a holiday is to relax, right? And while I came back more bruised and crabby than when I left (no hot water and a terrible massage will do that to a woman), I gave having a holiday a good go. There was an excess of food, alcohol and sunscreen. There was minimal physical exertion and bad-street-food-belly.
What I did have that I don’t normally have when I travel is conversation.
I don’t mean the boring and repetitive conversations you have at hostels or the random stranger conversations where you release a part of your life story into their hands in exchange for part of theirs. I mean the conversations of reflection and an exchange of wise advice. Exchanging life stories, yes, but exchanging in such a way that you grow from the experience. Instead of walking away with a new story from someone else, I walked away with a new perspective on my own stories, too.
Of course, I had a fantastic conversation partner who asked some interesting questions and made some profound observations, but the fact that lounging by the pool brought about some interesting revelations has left me a little bit surprised and a lot in awe.
It was a mental recharge. I have come home feeling physically sore (I will never forgive that “masseuse”) but mentally fresh and alert and full of ideas!
Maybe I didn’t need a holiday, but a conversation.
When did you last have an inspiring conversation?