Category Archives: Travel

Why Adventures?

adventures, explore, freedom

This blog is called Adventures Before Dementia because I aim to fit in as many as humanly possible before I shuffle off this mortal coil.  Hopefully by having an excess of Adventures the Dementia part of the title will never happen or at least be as minimal as possible!   I aim to have all kinds of adventures and not just travel ones, even if they are my most favourite kind.   Adventures of the mind, the heart, the soul, adventures of the spirit and last but by no means least, creative adventures.

Why?  Just because.  Just because everybody needs Adventures, proper ones spelt with a capital letter.  Serious Adventures.  We need them in order to grow as individuals.  We need them to make our life interesting, to give us something to look forward to and something to remember in the dark days of winter, we need them to rise above the humdrum, the run of the mill.  For in adventuring we find freedom……

May this be of use to you

Rob

On Freedom

biker-407123_1920I’ve written a lot about goals.

On working hard on them and reviewing daily.

On some I’m doing really well and on others it’s about having faith and making tiny steps.

Its also about tracking goals daily so that my methods can be adjusted.

But what it’s really about is freedom.

Freedom to live my life the way I want to.  Freedom to not be dictated to:  by employers, by society, by family, by “shoulds.”   Freedom to look after my family and friends.  Freedom to have adventures.  Freedom to be the real me.

At 55 I’m finally ready to grow up.  I’m designing my life the way I want it to be, not by societal norms.  I’ve done all the things I “should” do – get married, have children, buy a house, have a career.  Some of these things have been a success in anyone’s eyes – I have a long and happy marriage, I have two kids whom I adore, plus a bunch of awesome friends who I regard as family, and I have a house in an extremely desirable area.   I’ve paid my dues and now it’s my turn to do what the hell ever I want.  Freedom to choose

I desperately need another big adventure.

Part of my big adventure is working on my hard on my goals – adventures of the mind.

But I need physical adventures too.

Freedom.

Freedom to walk off with my backpack and keep going and to stop when I feel like it.  Freedom to ride my motorbike into the sunset.  Freedom to sit at Parisian cafes drinking espressos and (shock horror) foie gras and watching the world go by.  Freedom to snorkel off a sandy tropical beach as the palm trees wave languidly in the breeze.  Freedom to laugh and haggle in Asian markets.  Freedom to chat to fellow travellers at airports.  Freedom to earn my own income that’s contingent only on myself, not subject to the whims of an employer.

The question is:  what’s the next big adventure going to be?

 

 

 

Redundancy and rock bottom

 

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Originally I thought this would purely be a travel blog, a record of where I’d been and what I’d done for my friends to read, and to be a bit of light entertainment.  Somehow it has grown in to something more than that, something I’d never originally intended, its becoming a record of my personal reinvention after a difficult  redundancy.

Being made redundant left me devastated.  I’d always thought I was the “good”  employee, trying hard to toe the corporate line and be a responsible person.  I had a job I loved, believed in, was committed to and had recently finished doing further training for.  I fully thought that I’d be there for a long time to come, contributing to my organisation and community.  I had inspiration, ideas and initiative and the energy to bring them to fruition.  However it was not to be, and the end was rapid and deeply unpleasant.

In the months following I went through a parade of emotions which I’m sure anyone going through something similar would recognize.  I was furiously angry at the unfairness of it all, then fell into a funk of self recrimination.  Why didn’t I see it coming?  What if I’d done X, Y or Z differently?  What was wrong with me?  Then came the  overwhelming grief.

It sucks being made redundant in your fifties.  I’d had the legs knocked out from under me and my confidence was gone.  Some of the experiences I’d gone through at my previous organisation had left me unable to face applying for new positions at my level. I just couldn’t face an interview panel, partly because of the inquisitorial nature of the process and partly because I still hadn’t forgiven myself.  I did apply for a couple of jobs in my profession that I could have done with my hands tied behind my back but didn’t even get to the interview stage anyway.  I had a strong feeling that my professional reputation was destroyed, even though there was no direct evidence of this.  So I tried applying for junior level jobs – admin type stuff.  Nothing.  Self esteem at rock bottom.  I felt fragile, raw and broken.

What to do?  Running away seemed like a good idea.  So we did.  We went about as far as we possibly could, travelling to Europe and the UK via Dubai.  And we stayed away for as long as we could at the time –  4 months.  There was many a cafe table conversation in the sun to the tune of “if you were still at work we wouldn’t be doing this!”  It felt wonderful, especially when imagining certain people still schlepping away back at the evil empire.  I felt free, alive like I hadn’t for a long long time.

Coming home again was hard.   The evil empire was a large employer in my small town, and often in the news.  The CEO lived nearby and I had to pass his property whenever I went anywhere.  Everywhere there were reminders that I still didn’t have a job, so I wasn’t a “real” person.  Still at rock bottom.

I realized that I wasn’t going to get over this without some help, so about this time I got some therapy and that’s when I began to scrape myself back off the floor.   The realization hit me, that no matter what,  I did my  best.  I can now look back past the sadness and anger,  with the knowledge that with every ounce of my being that I honestly did do my best, and with that knowledge came the beginnings of healing.  It was only then that I could put the whole thing into perspective.  Until that point I was tossing the situation around in my mind ceaselessly looking for reasons,  and driving myself nuts.  Friends and family kept telling me I needed to move on, and forget it but I just couldn’t until I could understand and gain that much needed perspective.

Just how I did that will be the topic of my next post……

 

Why I love airports

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Among travellers it seems almost de rigeur to hate on airports, and to be honest I’ve never understood why.  Certainly in this country (New Zealand) you can’t undertake any sort of travel of a serious nature without getting on a plane.  We’re a tiny island in a large ocean and to get anywhere else requires a plane ride, often a long one. So for me airports have always represented the beginning of a great adventure.

I’m very rarely bored at an airport.  I observe my fellow travellers and wonder about their lives their trips, the reasons they are making them, where they’re from and where they’re going.  The farewells, the arrivals and the sheer diversity of humanity.  There is scope for making up endless stories about strangers in a crowd.

Checking out other people’s luggage is another favourite pastime.  I have a luggage obsession and am always hunting for the perfect  item.  I watch it all roll past and mentally design my ideal bag.  The obsessive compulsive bag wrapping types can tell theirs apart from everyone else’s  by the layers of plastic.  The rest of us try and express some element of our personality in our choice of colour, size, shape, number of pockets or zips in the hope that we can identify it quickly in the general scrummage at the luggage carousel.

All this may be because I’m a hick from a tiny little country at the bottom of the world but I don’t think so.  There is still romance in travel despite the fact that it is so much easier now than when the great Victorian explorers where making their journeys across continents unknown .  There is still the romance of exploration, of seeing the new, the different and the intriguing in other cultures, and other places, and I don’t believe that will ever change.    Just checking out the departures/arrivals boards in a foreign airport is the best fun.  I imagine myself jetting off to exotic and unusual destinations purely on the basis of an intriguing place name.   And then  watching who gets off the flights from those destinations…

And yes waiting can be a pain, especially when your flight is delayed, and delayed again and then cancelled, and I must confess that I’ve never been stuck in an airport for days due to the vagaries of Icelandic volcanoes.  That would justifiably sour one’s point of view.  However, I make sure that I always have a book/kindle with me and latterly I have my knitting.   And no, I’ve never had my knitting needles confiscated, but the security man at Casablanca airport poked me in the arm with one to see what my reaction was  And yes it did hurt, but I wasn’t going to let him know that, because then it would have been bye bye knitting.

The keys to enjoying your airport experience:

  1. Realize you are nothing more than human cattle – it’s not personal.  You are there to be queued checked, checked again queued again questioned and processed.  Get over it.
  2. Wear comfy shoes for queueing in.  And yes I’ve been known to break out the crocs.   Desperately, tragically and painfully uncool, but light and easy to slip off on the plane, and be worn with a pair of socks if need be (even more uncool) and allow for swelling of feet on long haul flights.  If anyone can find an attractive alternative please let me know!
  3. Lycra is your friend.  Soft stretchy clothing that is breathable and allows you to move easily is the priority.
  4. Have something portable and  productive to do while you are waiting.  Time passes quicker.  For me its knitting and blogging.
  5. If you desperately need peace and quiet consider paying for access to a lounge.
  6. Lastly if you are a member of that privileged portion of the world who can afford to travel DON’T COMPLAIN!  You are fortunate indeed.

 

 

 

Five lessons from the road

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Since arriving back in New Zealand in late April I’ve been working in the tourism industry, in a friend’s limousine company.

Recently the opportunity came up to do some tour guiding.  I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time  and the usual suspects were either busy or on leave, so I was offered the job.  I’ve never guided before but was I going to turn it down – hell no!   Since, I’m all about a life of exploring in every sense of the word, I wasn’t going to pass up this chance to help someone else explore New Zealand.

The trip was to the West Coast of NZ an area known for it’s  rugged beauty , isolation,  rain and ………  did I mention rain??  You get the picture.  The opportunity to show off one of my favourite places in the world was just too tempting – I have a love affair with the place – it’s heart wrenchingly gorgeous, dramatic and wild,it’s where I go to when I need a beach fix, but not of the swimming kind.  West Coast beaches are great for long walks,  fresh air, rock collecting and daydreaming, but swim at your peril.   Lonely Planet has named it one of the top ten coast road trips in the world and it’s certainly a must-do if you come to New Zealand.

Ha!  I thought, this will be a doddle, showing a tourist my fave place, talking about the landscape, the outdoors, plants, bird life, history, all the things I love and know about.  Well,   not quite …….. it was darn hard work, much more so than I’d imagined.  RESPECT to  the tour guides I have met on my travels and all the work that they put in both behind the scenes and on the job to ensure that I as a guest had a great experience.

The trip went brilliantly, the client was happy and we both enjoyed the experience.

Being on the other side of the equation travel-wise gave me some new perspectives on travel both as a guide and as a tourist so I thought I’d share them with you:

  1.  Have a Plan B.    For whatever reasons such as weather, breakdowns, cancellations, Plan A can go AWOL, so  ALWAYS have a Plan B.
  2. Small moments count –  a perfect sunset on a deserted beach, the smell of the forest after rain, an unexpected glimpse through a doorway.
  3. Take every opportunity you can to talk to the locals (the real ones, not the people behind counters at tourist attractions) .  A random conversation with a local  can give a deeper insight into life in that area/country, or can just share the common ground that we all have as human beings on this planet.  For me, when I reflect back on my travels its these moments that often stay with me the longest and are some of the high points of the trips I’ve made.
  4. Following on from 3.  Ask a local what their favourite places and things to do are.  You may get very different answers to what is commonly accepted as the top “tourist attractions”  but you may come across some hidden gems.
  5. Go slow.  Travel is a multi sensory experience to be savoured.  Do less,  immerse yourself in local life as much as you can – eat at local cafes, take detours, get lost, talk to random strangers.  You will leave far the richer for your experiences.

 

 

#explore

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I’ve been wondering how to continue this blog now I’m home.  How relevant is Adventures Before Dementia now that I am back to everyday life?  Life between travels.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s really relevant, for me anyway.  I figure that if I find meaning in this thinking someone else will also.  I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting lately and I’ve realised that for me life has always been about exploring.  Not necessarily physically exploring (although I’ve done a bit of that in my time) but exploring possibilities, boundaries (oh yeah) and exploring my limits – physically, mentally, spiritually, intellectually.  I love to be learning, doing new stuff and seeing how far I can take it.  To me an integral part of having adventures is exploring.  Hindsight being what it is, I look back and think I’d make some very different choices if I knew then what I know now, but the thread that runs through it all, is that whatever life dished up I looked for the opportunities to explore and grow.

I’m at a stage of my life now where the kids are living their own lives and need very little direct input, the mortgage is under control and I have the luxury of time, energy and experience on my side.  It’s my time to make my mark on the world – until now I’ve focused on marriage, children and career – those things we “should” do as a part of society.  Marriage and children for me have been a raging success, if not always easy!  But career wise I have a load of unfulfilled potential, and at 55 I’m not ready to quietly potter on until retirement – whatever that is.

I believe that there are a lot of people in my situation, post children, post career for whatever reason, with a lot to contribute still, but perhaps undervalued by the mainstream employment market.

So call me a late bloomer, whatever, but this is my time to shine, my time to leave a legacy, my time to push to my absolute limits in every sense. I don’t know how I’m going to do it exactly but I know I will.  What I do know is that I want to create good in the world, encourage more loving kindness, more connectedness and more care for our beautiful planet.  What I do know is that I want to live by these values.  What I do know is that I want to build something good, to push my entrepreneurial limits  and create my own income rather than relying on someone else.  And I will.

So here’s to the process, to enjoying the journey and to adventures!  #explore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bargaining in Morocco

I’d long ago read of the Arab love of bargaining.  As a New Zealander this is not something I’d had much experience of at all.   It is not in our culture to bargain over price.  However when I look back on some of my old employment agreements I think that I  needed a crash course in it!  There’s plenty of well documented studies about how women workers are not paid as much as men to do the same job.  A good course in bargaining might just help rectify the situation.
So,  the inevitable happens and we are shown some beautiful carpets at a place called Telouat.   And of course we can’t resist.  And I find myself bargaining with one if the masters of the game.  This was not something I had ever envisioned myself doing!! Himself conveniently disappeared and was deep in conversation with Mustafa our driver for the day.   Helpful that.  The bargaining process was the most leisurely and relaxed I’ve ever been involved in and I didn’t once feel harassed or bullied to buy.  We came eventually to a price that was mutually agreeable.  Apparently I bargain like a Berber woman so I’ll take that as a compliment.  This was all completely unlike the experiences I’d previously had in Marrakesh souks and some Asian markets.  I finally learned the lesson.  Relax.  And don’t do business with jerks. I don’t at home so why change when overseas. And if everyone is happy the price is a good one regardless.  And don’t haggle to the last cent it just looks cheap.  It IS cheap.  Let’s face it to most of the locals you’re a millionaire just by being in their country and out of yours.