Ah Tired Defending My Love for Travelling

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For many people with the travel sickness, as I call it, the lure of the road and its promise of adventures are usually overwhelming after a couple weeks at home. I made a choice years ago to find a job and lifestyle that would let me travel at my whim, indulge my nonsensical flights of fancy, and maybe have a couple laughs along the way.

Most people I meet are always curious about the places, food and people. You would think that a Trini would be the same. Wouldn’t you? We’re a vibrant, cosmopolitan, free-spirited people!

Is this lifestyle truly so difficult to comprehend? 

However, it’s been a struggle defending myself to Trini folk. I got tired of justifying why I traded a safe, ‘regular’ job for a chance to see the world. Is this lifestyle truly so difficult to comprehend? It’s gotten to the point that when I hear that familiar Trini uptick in dialect, I run in the other direction, unless I choose to completely lie.

If I tell the truth about my travelling to the typical Trini, then I get something like this (note this is a snippet of an actual conversation after 3 minutes of meeting a Trini for the first time):

Random Trini: “So lemme get this straight. Yuh in yuh 30s and you ent marrid and yuh have no children.”

Me: “Correct. I’ve been on the road for so long, it just wasn’t a priority.”

Random Trini: “You have a job? Like a real job or are you just one of those artsy people who roams with no purpose.”

Me: “I do have a job, since I had to pay for my travelling somehow.”

Random Trini: “And yuh not marrid and have no chirren? Yuh gay or something? Cause that’s ok too! Are you travelling cause you running away from something?”

Me: “Nope…not gay, gainfully employed, ah have ah house and lady in the house…”

Random Trini: “So then why yuh not marrid yet? All that travelling ent go do yuh no good, if you ent have a wife and chirren.”

I feel like I’m forever defending my reasons for travel, explaining why I love it, and justifying why I’m taking yet another trip. It’s gotten to the point that I had to delete Trinis from my Facebook, because they got pissed off about me updating my status from another country.

This is probably a universal thing and not specific to Trinis.

This is probably a universal thing and not specific to Trinis. It just so happens that as a Trini, I tend to focus on my own people. We’re all aware of those stats where almost 65% of Americans don’t have a passport – so the problem cannot be specific only to Trinis.

My explanations for my lifestyle will resonate with those who are like of mind, and completely fall on deaf ears of those who will never understand. I don’t question people who are in their 30s, without a single stamp on their passport, but chose to have three, four, or five-plus children. I get that the road and planet aren’t for everyone. That being said, I’ve never once been in a Trini conversation where someone asked another person, “Yuh so young and you have how many children?” Yet I get questioned about going to XYZ country … “What it have there for you?”

Different countries have completely different attitudes to travellers. For instance, in Australia, it’s seen as a rite of passage to leave home for one or two years and go see the world. Those who don’t are seen as somewhat incomplete in their worldview. The fact that they’re so far from everyone else also leads to longer trip durations for the Aussies.

Different countries have completely different attitudes to travellers.

The Irish are also lovers of travel and experience, and they absolutely value a holistic worldview. Germans spend the most on travelling, and the Chinese are also climbing the travel spend ladder very quickly. Scandinavians have very generous leave entitlements, so they take a lot of vacation and do a lot of nomadic travel.

Personally, I love travelling for so many reasons.

I love it for the challenge. New places and communicating without knowing the local language will challenge you in so many different ways, but we’re all capable of adapting in real time.

I love new experiences. I could have never dreamed that growing up in Chaguanas, I would be able to walk the path of Christ, pitch a rock at Stonehenge, eat a sheep’s head in Morocco, swim at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland or walk with the gods in Amalfi, Italy. Yet…been there, done that and will sell the T-shirt.

I’ve learnt more about myself, and patience on the road by myself, than I could have ever learned by staying home.

I know that we do have the best party on Earth. It’s one thing for Trinis to say Carnival is the best. It’s another thing to know it. I know that we have the best party in the world, because I’ve been to the others and they just don’t measure up.

I love to eat. You can’t have the best curry, schwarma, pita, Pad Thai, sushi or Chinese food, if you stay at home. Culinary education leads to cultural education.

I know that other travellers believe in the same philosophy, having met many of them along the way. It amazes me that in spite of us coming from different countries, cultures and customs, we’re all united in our vision and love of the path.

With all of this said, some of the comments I’ve gotten include:

“You sure yuh know what yuh doing with yuh life?”

“All dis travelling seems reckless, like yuh don’t care about nothing.”

“Why yuh ent save all that money yuh wasting, yuh go get old and lonely and then yuh ent go have nothing.”

It can burn you in your brain.

Over the years, I had to know what reasons the non-travellers in my life had for not traveling. I wanted to know why they didn’t feel the insatiable appetite for travel that I did, why the travel bug has not bitten them. When asked, I got some of the following answers

“I like home.”

As though I live in excrement and I don’t like my home either.

“I don’t have the luxury in my job to travel.”

Myth/fallacy/error all wrapped in one…travel is anywhere different from where you are.

“The cost of travel is too high and I’d rather spend my money elsewhere.”

That’s completely fine; we all have different priorities. Why question mine? You buy a new big screen TV; I choose to fly to Finland.

“I wish I could, but I have no money and so much responsibilities here.”

Really? I just live like a hobo and eat SPAM all day and night. It’s nice to live without any cares in the world. AS IF!

For me D.H. Lawrence said it best: “When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.”

I will encourage my kids to travel before they go to university and then encourage them to explore paths outside of university, if it involves learning new languages and seeing the world. I would implore the same of those of you reading my diatribe. It will change you in ways, you can’t even expect or anticipate, and once the change happens, it’s irreversible.

Your trips don’t have to be something epic; it can be even in Trinidad. You live in North…go spend the day at the Pitch Lake, hike a waterfall, or drive to Cedros…because you can. Baby steps first. Maybe head over to Barbados or Grenada. Spend the weekend there and wander. That’s all it takes sometimes.

Personally, I’m no different than any other traveller, with the same excuses I use for my defence. I want to see something new, I want to keep track of myself as I evolve, and I want to read more than one page of the book that is the world.

Rishi Sankar is a PeopleSoft HRMS Project Manager and Oracle Solution Architect. Over the past 10+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 2 major consulting firms. He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @Rishiray and on Facebook. He doesn't like chicken curry, but loves curry chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens...and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35-yearr-old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

5 Comments

  1. Pixiedust8262

    June 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Agreed, travel is so important and sometimes it even h elps you to appreciate home more!

  2. Tenille Clarke

    June 20, 2012 at 10:33 am

    A BRILLIANT article!!!!!

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    June 26, 2012 at 3:58 am

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  4. Staciay

    June 27, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post! I was bitten by the travel bug years ago and want nothing but to travel and write after I graduate next May. I always thought money would be an issue but, I went out on a limb last year and backpacked west Europe on a shoe string budget — now I’m a firm believer! Keep traveling and writing Rishi! Thank you! :)

  5. trinitrish

    March 26, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Gosh, I now reading this Post! Funny…and True!! I’m single, in 30’s and love Travel…and get the same stupid questions from family and friends. “What happen to yuh gual, why you ent get marrid and make some chirren fuh yuh fadder tuh mine eh!” or “Yuh getting ole, you doh feel lonely, why yuh ent have ah man yet!”

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