Guest post time! Since I’m currently traveling, it’s been difficult to have access to a kitchen and cook recipes to feature here in Amusing Maria. This guest post is written by Andrew Goethals, a fantasy genre novelist and most beloved editor. Here are his thoughts on the difficulties of travel and why he still loves it:
Two main points:
1. Traveling is fun, and it’s good for you.
2. Just like when your mom was trying to make you eat your peas,“good for you” is code for “it sucks.”
First, the fun part. You get to see incredible things. Here are some pictures I took in Portugal.
I know, pretty awesome, right? Food, wine, history, surfing, castles, wildflowers, cheese, fish, cathedrals, etc, etc, etc. It’s awesome, and I highly recommend going. AND just like being made to eat your vegetables, travel, while good for you, also sucks.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
Mark Twain wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t true.
It should be noted that vegetables don’t inherently suck. But when you’re four, and you want ice cream, and you can’t have any until you choke down another two spoonfuls of mushy peas, you understand the whole mechanical operation of purgatory.
Most of us have a mindset of a four-year-old when it comes to travel. We want the food and history, the wildflowers and sunsets, the beaches and all the rest of the ice cream. But first, we have to eat the peas. In travel, there are uncomfortable situations we have to endure and it’s just the price we have to pay for all the wine and castles. The peas, squash, and brussel sprouts in this case, are many and varied. First, you have to get your passport. Why is it important that I spend an afternoon at the post office so that I can travel? Who knows, but that’s the way it works. Then packing. How are you going to fit everything you might need for three weeks in Southeast Asia into a carry-on bag? And there’s the actual trip. You have to be at the airport at least two hours ahead of time, more if you’re driving outside of town for your flight. You have to change flights in Philadelphia, silently pleading with the shuttle driver to drive so you can get to your connecting gate at least before they close the door to the plane. Fifth, you may have to fly coach. You may have to wrap your arms around your head like a turban and squeeze your legs into the 3 inch space between you and the seat in front of you, because the airlines assume we’re all roughly the size we were when we were 9 years old. After six or seven hours of this sadistic yoga, you get to stand in line. Repeatedly. So you can tell some guy that you’re here as a tourist and you have nothing to declare except that you’re tired, hungry, thirsty, badly in need of a shower, constipated and….
Then you have to stand in line again, waiting for a cab. Hopefully the driver knows the street where you booked your BnB, because the streets are designed specifically to confuse invaders. You realize that in the present time, the lay out still works, confusing even the most practiced of cab drivers. Finally, you get to where you’re staying. The toilet has a strange accent, the faucet is right not left, and the doors don’t have knobs. You have arrived at this new place you’ve dreamed of traveling to. Now you realize that everything is different here.
But then, you settle your weary self in a cafe looking over tiled roofs and cobblestone streets. The friendly waitress sets espresso and chocolate mousse on the table. Everything is just right. You ate your vegetables, it had been excruciating, but now, it’s time for dessert. You go up to the castle. It’s awesome.
Of course, there are more peas waiting for you, in unexpected places. Things are not what you expect. The map is completely unrelated to the landscape around you, the GPS doesn’t speak the local dialect, and yeah, those locals are all laughing at you. You look ridiculous. You are a stupid tourist. You’re going to get hosed when you try to change your money, and your feet are going to be throbbing. You’ll get lost. You will discover there are no cabs in this part of town. If you’re super lucky, you’ll have something happen to your GI tract and really get to know that toilet with the foreign accent.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Also, I have to tell you a secret. These vegetables are good for you. Not because suffering makes you a better person, but because that’s what makes it an adventure. I don’t have pictures to prove this because it’s usually not pretty and you’re usually not thinking that’s something you want to remember. But you remember it anyways.
Andrew is currently traveling in Southeast Asia meeting new friends and trying new cuisine. He continues to pursue his passion for writing stories when he’s not playing Civilization or DnD and is working on a new book about Goblins. His first novel, Sangera Square is available on Kindle and can be purchased here.