(If you haven’t done so already, please read Day #1: A Simple Introduction.)
Today’s challenge is all about explaining why I am passionate about what I do (ie. why I am passionate about travel and encouraging others to do the same.) Well, let me tell you a little story that I always fondly entitle, “The time I was almost left at the Grand Canyon”:
The absolute darkness pressed in around my eyes as I watched car after car vacate the parking lot. I squinted at the small number of occupied spaces filled with scraps of metal and flash SUV’s, trying to decipher whether any of the cars could somehow give any indication of where my friend and his car had gone.
The sun had well and truly sunk its way down into the ground of the Grand Canyon on which I now stood, my feet still covered in its dust, clutching my tiny day backpack as though it were my life raft.
Here are some key facts that you should probably know at this point:
1. I had taken a road trip for the day from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon with two fellow travellers from the hostel that I was staying at.
2. The guy driving got himself into a massive mood (apparently all-night gambling and alcohol abuse are not conducive to driving long distances), and insisted on splitting ways. He told us to meet him back at his car at 6pm.
3. The other girl and myself spent an awesome afternoon together but decided that we wanted to spend sunset at different lookout spots, so we agreed to also meet back at the car at 6pm.
4. None of us had exchanged contact details of any kind, not even Facebook or email (you can see where I’m going with this, right?)
5. I didn’t know which car park we had parked in.
6. I didn’t know what the car looked like specifically or have its licence plate number.
7. Once the sun goes down, the Grand Canyon is incredibly dark and poorly lit for optimum star gazing. You can’t see a thing.
8. We were 8 hours from Vegas. I had to get on a bus from Vegas to LA first thing the next morning in order to catch my flight to Fiji the day after that. Basically, if I didn’t get back to Vegas that night, I was screwed.
‘Has this guy seriously just left me on the Grand Canyon?’
That was the one single thought I had as I wondered from car park to car park searching for the lost car. With every lap the lots got emptier and emptier as the cars left.
‘Surely he wouldn’t be stupid enough to leave me?’ I asked myself. I still had some of my belongings in his car, after all. With a sinking heart I recalled his irrationality earlier in the day and could only murmur, ‘Probably.’
The darkness was suffocating as I felt its clammy hands feel their way around my face before clamping firmly over my eyes.
I waited for the panic and the fear to overwhelm. For the inevitable falling apart and sobbing on the concrete.
Instead I became calm to the point of absolute inner silence and began figuring out my options: I scouted the area for a central meeting point to wait at, I ran through places/options for the night, and I even thought out a rough plan of the changes that would need to be made to my flights and buses.
This sense of calm originated from one simple fact: I had just travelled South America alone as a first time backpacker – as a single female no less – and survived. And I didn’t speak a word of Spanish. After I had accomplished that, I knew that I could cope with anything that life threw my way.
So, I pulled out my head torch, checked to see what supplies I had in my backpack and rallied.
Eventually, the guy pulled up (“I was about to leave! I thought you must have left!” Yes, I took off in my magic wishing chair with Chinky, Mollie and Peter) and we drove back to Vegas.
I will admit that right before the guy showed up, I realised that I had left my android tablet in his car (my only form of communication as I didn’t have a phone), and I finally began to panic. The tears fell as I stood in the middle of three very empty parking lots with no one around the ask for help. I am only human, after all!
And how does this relate to explaining why it is that I am passionate about what I do?
I am passionate about travel, and encouraging others through my blog to take the plunge and embark on the adventure of a lifetime, because of the lessons that travelling teaches us and the capabilities it compels us to realise that we possessed all along.
When you travel, you are routinely put into situations that force you to confront some of your biggest fears (being lost, alone, unable to communicate adequately, homeless, scared, uncomfortable…)
THIS is why I blog. Because travel changed my life. Its lessons are applicable to the everyday and the ordinary. And it is this sense of empowerment that I want to bring to those who read my blog.