Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A world of change

Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen. ~Benjamin Disraeli

We travel the world over to find ourselves and come home to realize we are as we always should have been.

Or some crap like that.

Although I have to say that's not exactly true.

I have definitely been changed by my travels.

My idea of a good rate a nights sleep is $8.

Anything over that seems a bit steep.

Even downtown Toronto I grumble that a private room costs $35

Granted the actual hotel down the street costs around $250 a night, but any hostel over $20 just seems extravagant to me no matter how close to the CN Tower you are.

Traveling has also change my opinion on "street meat".

I am slightly ashamed to admit that back in my early days (say around the age of 19) I turned up my nose at most any food served on the street.

Especially if that food was largely consumed by drunk people.

I kind of thought that if the majority of your customer base is too inebriated to know who they're going home with, then they are probably too inebriated to care about basic hygiene.

I was just never convinced that these street vendors really ever followed any proper food handling guidelines.

Same goes for Pizza Corner... I simply didn't trust multiple pizza joints all located on one corner of downtown Halifax.

Somewhere along the past ten years, I got over all that.

In fact, I am now the type of person who turns up her nose at a Carlos and Charlies in Mexico, and walks three blocks past the giant Deparment-of-Food-and-Safety-regulated chain restaurants in search of a little street meat vendor.

I'm not saying that I have somehow come to believe that these street vendors actually wash their hands, I've just come to appreciate the taste of authentic dirt.

Although I have to admit, your general idea of "clean" is always subjective to what country you are in and how long you've been away from your own shower and laundry room.

Spending one night in a hotel in Halifax you generally do your normal routine- shower, make-up, fresh clothes, I've even been known to spoil myself with some room service.

After sleeping on the ground in a dessert in Egypt, your morning routine consists of trying not to throw up your cold boiled egg and pita, and roaming to find a rock far enough away from other group members to squat behind without accidentally ending up in someones panoramic photo of the wonderful scenery.

I even spent three days on a sailboat without going above deck once. When the weather finally cleared, I put on a clean shirt to celebrate the end of the storm.

Everything else I was wearing had been on my body for three days straight, but my shirt was clean, and I felt like I was in heaven.

But it's not just my standards for hygiene that are effected by my travels, it's also my language.

No, I don't speak any more fluently in french or spanish than I did back when I was 17, but boy can I swear in a lot of languages. Putant, Madre, Bloody Hell, and Hellll-naw, are some of my regulars.

(I may not be able to spell them, and I can't tell you what most of them mean, but they do fly out of my out of my mouth faster than your traditional four letter words.)

I also noticed this weekend I can't seem to say the word "oi" (as in ouch) without then muttering.. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi.....

The colour of my tan may not be as deep, and my out of focus photos may be lost in some old scrapbook, but the world has left an impression on me.

That impression seems to be cheap, dirty, and full of cuss words, but I am changed none the less.

Shelley and I, sitting on the dirty ground, in clothes that are probably dirty as well, drinking tea made from what is most likely water from a mud puddle.

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