A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Taking a Mini-Retirement Now: Reason #50 February 18, 2010

Money can always be replaced, but the body cannot.

Scenerio 1: You slave away at your desk job with a picture of Machu Picchu tacked to your cubicle wall. The day after your retirement party, age 65, you board a plan for Peru and realize that you are not fit enough to climb the strenous hike from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and instead board the tourist bus along with 50 other seniors and are driven to the entrance.  You snap a few photos and casually graze about the ruins but the crowds of people ruin your shots. You look at your watch and realize that you need to take your heart medicine and five other multi-colored pills that are stuffed in your pocket so you head to the cafe’ where you order a hamburger and fries off the tourist menu because spicy food, which you once loved, now gives you indigestion and heartburn. You go back outside but the sun is hot and your back begins to hurt, after a few more tourist infested shots, you take the bus back to your luxury hotel where you take off your shoes, and lay down for an afternoon nap.

Scenerio 2: You are on the corporate track but know that you can work and make money for the rest of your life, so you decide to head out for a 4 week adventure and that Peru would be a perfect antidote for your wonder lust heart.  You fly into Lima, take a rickety bus to Cusco where you ride with the locals, sit next to a woman with a caged chicken on her lap and make friends with the man in front of you.  Although you can’t speak a lick of Spanish you manage to “talk” with gestures over pulls from a bottle of homemade pisco.  Only minutes after arriving in Cusco you make friends with some other travelers at a hostel and decide to join them the next day on the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu. You trek through green pastures, rolling hills, high mountains, valley floors, across streams and even rivers.  You get to know travelers from around the world, share stories over the campfire at night and are waken up each morning with coca tea served at your tent flap. After 7 days of intensive hiking you arrive at Aguas Calientes for your first real hot shower.  The next morning you wake, start hiking in the dark, and arrive at Inti Punku (the sun gate) just as the sun is coming up over the mountain peaks. You watch in awe and your body shivers as you feel incredibly small in comparison to the magnificent ancient ruins. After an hour of taking postcard perfect early morning photos, the tourist buses begin to arrive and the ruins become overrun with overweight seniors. You decide to head back down to Aguas Caliente to enjoy a mid-day beer on the hostel’s balcony while recounting your hiking adventure with your new group of friends.

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Simple Moments of Country Life January 26, 2009

I love the city. Bright lights, restaurants galore and endless entertainment options. The city arguably has everything a girl could want…well, almost.  After the countless nights of parading across town in high heels, short dresses and makeup, things become routine.  In a city, you are surrounded by what seems like a plethora of options: Thai food or Italian, Hollywood blockbuster or independent film, wine bar or pub, concert or performance, art gallery or coffeshop art, jazz or hip hop, rock climbing or ice skating.  There are so many choices of entertainment but upon closer inspection, the so called plethora of options are condensed into seven main categories: dining, movies, bars, concerts/performance, art, music or sports.  Occasionally you’ll find an event that breaks the mold of a typical Saturday night out like a beer pong tournament or national geographic lecture, but these seem few and far between. And, for the budget conscious person…*cough*…most of these entertainment options cost money! For two people you’re often looking at least $30 on dinner, $15 on movie tickets, $20-100 on your average bar bill, $40-200 on a concert/performance, at least $10 cover for live music and $20 at the climbing wall. This doesn’t even count the parking, gas or taxi costs.  Man oh man…I already feel a hole forming in my wallet.  And, during this economic crisis, that hole just keeps getting bigger and bigger until *poof!* where did my wallet go? Where is my money? All I want is to be entertained. All I want is a fun moment to remember!

One of the so called downfalls of living in a small town is that there are not a lot of entertainment options. When I first moved to Seattle and told people I was from Davenport, population 1500, people gasped, “What do you do? Do you even have television?”

“Yes, we have television and even Internet–crazy I know!” I would say. But, city people are right, there are not a lot things to do in Davenport. Correction, there are not a lot of things that you can pay to do. Besides bowling and…yup, well that’s about it.

So, what do you do in a small town then? Well, you get creative. You turn the simple things in life into entertainment and along the way you find that often times they are just as fun and more memorable than the cookie cutter options of city entertainment.

Last night for example,  I pulled on a pair of old blue jeans, laced up my boots and layered up with thermals and an old coat to combat the 9 degree weather outside before leaving my parent’s house to go help feed a newborn calf that had been abandoned by the mother.

Upon the first visit, we tried to get the mother to let the calf feed from her own milk. After several attempts and the mother nearly squashing her own calf, we left in a big blue pickup and later returned with an esophageal feeder, which basically looks like a giant UV sac and hose. We filled the sac with milk, glided the hose down the calf’s throat and in less the a minute the milk was on it’s way to filling the calf’s stomach.  The calf was so little it wobbled when it walked and you could easily hold it in your arms.

Although I know I could never move back to a town as small as Davenport, I am thankful that I was raised here and learned to appreciate the simple things in life.  It’s made me realize throughout the years that memories don’t need to wear a price tag. You don’t need to spend money in order to create a memorable moment. For me, it the moments that are random, unexpected and often times free that I cherish and remember the most–like holding a newborn cafe on a freezing winter night.

 

Priorities January 27, 2008

Filed under: Round The World Trip — italicana kitchen @ 7:59 pm
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I don’t have a fairy godmother leaving me 100 bills under my pillow nor did I win the lotto (I wish!). To save up enough money to travel for seven straight months is simple. You set priorities on how you spend your money. Do you want that $400 purse or do you want a plane ticket to another country? Do you want that $4 latte every day or do you want a bungalow on a beach?

It is a simple concept but not always simple to do. America is a materialistic society. We want…want…want. We buy..buy…buy. I will be the first to admit it, I flirt with this mad game of consumption daily. However, in order to help overcome this fight, I give myself a few little rules of thumb to follow.

1. Limit unnecessary shopping. Does this item serve an actual purpose (like toothpaste) or is it unnecessary (like a new shirt)? If it is the latter, I don’t buy it. I don’t need new clothes, shoes or other fashion items. I won’t take it with me on my trip so what is the point of buying it now as it will be out of fashion when I get back?

2. Be a cook. Cooking is almost always going to be cheaper than going out to eat unless you plan to hit up a fast food restaurant every night. I cook almost every night and I always bring a lunch with me to work. I can not express how this in itself has saved me so much money. My only downfall is that I absolutely love to cook but I don’t like to cook cheap. If you are coming over for a dinner party you will find yourself enjoying a 5 course meal. But the cost for that one dinner alone is the cost of living in Asia for a week. So, this kind of cooking falls under “entertainment” and I only do it occasionally.

3. Limit entertainment. The key here is not to deny but to limit your favorite hobbies and past times. I love snowboarding and glorious powder. I adore getting dressed up and going out to dinner. I cherish the end of the day when I grab beers and happy hour with friends. I get excited to go to the movies, plays and concerts. However, traveling is also my hobby. So I have to pick and choose. Would I rather spend a day trekking in the jungle or day on the mountain?

These three simple rules have helped me think carefully about how I spend my money. It’s not that I really deny myself of anything, I just limit the number of times I do it. This has allowed me to balance living in the moment and planning for the future.

So, if you want to go on an around the world trip there is no,”I wish I could.” Rather, what you should be saying is, “I can”–then start prioritizing.