Monday, March 28, 2011

Jaded Travellers

I was back to my indecision and lack of direction, somehow I ended up on a bus to Salta, why the heck was I going to Salta which is North of Cafayate when I was trying to get south to Mendoza? I was in search of a random adventure but the reality was I didn’t have time for a random adventure. My friend from Tucuman had to return back home so he could work on his music so I was left hanging in Cafayate on my own. A town which I had adored but all of a sudden I was alone again so when a German guy told me he wanted to further north to a place he would have to hitch hike to get to I decided to join. This was my chance for a crazy adventure hitch hiking around South America. I always liked the idea of hitch hiking but knew I would only do it with a guy.

Unfortunately our plan of taking off and hitching the north of Argentina was squashed by the bane of my travelling existence; Christmas. For some reason even though Christmas doesn’t really mean that much to me, especially when I am travelling there is still always this pressure to be somewhere on Christmas and to not be alone. I know I am never alone when I travel, never. When I tell people I travel alone they are shocked but honestly when you’re backpacking you can’t get away from people. When I come home I feel a bit odd because there isn’t a bunch of bunk beds in my room. So you would think I wouldn’t worry about finding people to spend Christmas with but I always do and my travel plans have to revolve around being somewhere on that one day. In the end I decided to spend a few days in Salta then head down to Mendoza which I should have done in the first place and the German had booked a hostel in La Paz for Christmas.

The German had decided to take off from Salta and bypass 90% of Bolivia and go straight to La Paz. To this day I regret not seeing more of Bolivia, the highlight of most travellers’ South American tour is the Uyuni salt flats, and yes I know I can’t believe I didn’t go either. I didn’t want the German to pass it up either and have the same pang I feel whenever I see someone’s photos of this majestic site. The German didn’t care though, I realized him as well as the only other non-Israeli guests in the hostel were “Jaded Travellers”. The German and this Portuguese-English/ German couple had just been travelling too long and it had gotten to them. The German booked his hostel in La Paz because he wanted to do a paragliding course, he didn’t want to be traveling anymore. He missed working; he missed “doing” something. He wanted a course to keep him busy. He didn’t care about seeing anything more in Argentina, Bolivia or South America for that matter. He had worked in Australia 6 months with his girlfriend, travelled Australia and Asia then they bought a motor bike in India travelled there before saying goodbye to his girlfriend then he hopped on a flight to Buenos Aires. He didn’t want to see another waterfall, beach or jungle; he was comparing everything to what he had seen before. His big round the world expedition was mushing together. I have travelled a lot in the world seen many churches, waterfalls, beaches, colonial towns, jungles, desserts but this has been over time and never in one long exhausting round the world trip so I am still able to appreciate a beautiful site. The German seemed to be burnt out.

The couple in the hostel were even worse. They were “complainers” I have never met travellers that complained as much as them, I couldn’t take the negativity. Sure some things in other countries don’t work as well as our countries and things can be a hassle but you aren’t home you get over it and deal with it. They spent the first part of their long winded journey traveling in a camper in New Zealand. They were obviously novices at this traveling thing because you don’t go from shinny green, clean and friendly New Zealand to Lima, Peru. For people who like clean eco friendly, safe, under populated, calm places I advise you Lima might not be for you. They spent the rest of their travels comparing everything to New Zealand. They didn’t like Peru they complained out Machu Picchu, they hated Bolivia and thought it was a shit hole and then they met me in the same shitty Israeli hostel in Salta. I think negative people are drawn to shitty places so they can have more to complain about. They were jaded they had travelled too much and seen too much, they were burnt out and exhausted. They didn’t see Bolivia for how amazing it is the landscape the culture and how frozen in the past it is. When you are in Bolivia you know it, you couldn’t be anywhere else in the world, it is so distinct and unique and those qualities are what makes it so appealing. When they saw Bolivia they saw the filth, they saw how backwards it is and how far behind New Zealand it was.

I felt like telling them maybe they had been gone too long maybe it was time for them to go home. The odd time you do come across these jaded travellers, the ones who have burnt out and I admit I have probably been there as well but we hate to admit it’s time for us to go back. It’s like giving up but travelling is not a marathon. It’s not a competition to see who can stay away the longest. You are not throwing in the towel and admitting defeat if you go back. You won’t get stuck in your home country forever and not be able to travel again. If you want to do something you will you left this time didn’t you? If you are a traveller you will always travel but sometimes you need to go back and recharge your batteries.

Perhaps I didn’t recharge my batteries long enough before leaving for South America again. Maybe that’s why I was lacking this sense of direction and have this constant indecision and anxiety. I hoped not, I decided Mendoza was going to change things for me. I was heading back on the Ruta de Las Vinedos.

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