25 Oct

Inspire You, Inspire Me

I received a very sweet email this week from Christina of MeetUsInMunich. She said I could share it with you.

Hi Gillian,

I’ve been meaning to write this email for a while– thanks for commenting on our blog! It’s really silly, but I felt star-struck. I’ve been following your blog for a while. I would read it at work as we were secretly planning our getaway. I loved all your adventures and insight and advice. And it also gave me the encouragement and courage to take the first step to going around the world. So, thank you!

By the way, your post on India…now that we’ve been there, I so get what you’re saying! :D

Take care,

Christina

Of course it boosted my ego a bit and maybe made my head swell slightly…I mean did you read the part about star-struck! But it also reminded me of how we never know of the effect we have on other people.

I realized a while ago that no matter how humble I feel, or how scared I am, or how giant my own steps seem, that there are people who look to me for inspiration and courage.

Fairy Chimneys and Balloons-1

And I like it.

I like that people are inspired by me. That I have made a difference and helped someone overcome some of their fear to get where they are going.

Because I still look to others for the same thing. I think we all do.

I remember the first comment I got from a fellow blogger. When I realized it wasn’t just my mum reading. When I had to start thinking about who the audience was. And it scared the shit out of me!

And so I looked to bigger bloggers, more experienced travelers, and better writers to look for clues as to how I could do what they do. I watched as they expanded themselves, took risks and moved forward seemingly fearlessly and I emulated them on a much smaller scale.

But it’s also about connection. I followed those people and listened to their every word because I felt connected to them. I could see something of myself in their stories and, just like Christina, I would read them as we secretly planned our getaway.

The difference between inspiration and dreaming is that inspiration moves toward action while dreaming is static. Those who dream of one day doing something likely will never get there. Those who are inspired to do something will keep reading, and planning, until they get there.

It’s no different for me today. I still look to those that are doing what I would like to do.

I’m glad, Christina, that you wrote to me. It really did make my day week month! And, as I said to you in my email, I have no doubt that there are people who also read your blog and feel the same way!

18 Oct

Remember That Time…I Thought It Was All Over Before It Had Hardly Begun?

Now that we’ve returned home and have settled back into our routine lives again we find it funny how our travel stories keep coming up. Invariably one of us will look at the other and say ‘Remember That Time…’ I thought it would make a good series; a way to tell these small stories that take us back in the blink of an eye.

I think striking is Peru’s national past time. It seemed as though there was always a strike, or the threat of a strike, the whole time we were there.

We had booked our Inca Trail trek months in advance and, finally, the day was approaching for us to set out. We’d been in Cusco for 4 or 5 days acclimatizing to the altitude and listening to various rumors about an impending transit strike.

The taxi drivers in the city were seemingly upset because the local police had increased the fines for drinking and driving beyond the price that the taxi drivers were wiling to pay. I know.

Busy Day In Cusco

There, as it is here in Canada, union members stick together and so the taxi drivers had the support of drivers from outside the city, bus drivers, truck drivers, delivery drivers etc. There was to be no movement of motorized vehicles during the predicted one day strike (sometimes they can go on for days as one did later on in our stay in Peru).

We were worried about how this would affect our scheduled trek when we received an email explaining that, due to the strike, we would be leaving at 10PM that night to sneak out of the city before the strike began.

We quickly packed our packs, made arrangements for our return, and met up with our trekking group at the assigned spot. We weren’t the only group leaving early that night as there were three buses lined up waiting to hit the road early. We all piled in and the little convoy got on its’ way.

All was well until we were about a half hour outside of town. We could see groups of men walking along the darkened roadway. They were making sure the transit strike was being observed and were going to walk through the night to make it to Cusco by morning for the protest.

Along the way they had set fire to tires and brush and were starting to block the roadway with rocks of all sizes (this is a technique we saw elsewhere in the country too – a crude, but effective way of stopping traffic).

It was eerie to catch sight of random figures in the bus headlights furtively running about. It reminded me of Halloween night a bit.

Suddenly there was a loud BANG on one of the windows of the bus. And then another. And another. And another. We were being pelted with rocks. The striking men were upset that the buses were trying to leave and they were going to let us know about it.

The guide yelled at us all to get down, for fear of a window being shattered, so we all hunched down and wondered what was going to happen next.

I was terrified and started to shake uncontrollably.

andes You see, I had been reading a novel called Death In The Andes that takes place during Peru’s Shining Path Rebellion, a time of great turmoil, political upheaval, and violence.

In one part of the story a French couple are on a bus traversing the Andes when it is pulled over by Shining Path members. The end for them is neither kind, nor swift, as they are killed by their captors. It is actually a great novel and, being based on true events, gave me a lot of insight into modern Peruvian culture…I recommend it.

This is what was going through my head as the rocks continued to pelt the outside of the bus. I had visions of the bus stopping, strange men boarding and marching us all outside to some unknown fate.

I’m serious. This is what I was thinking.

I, of course, didn’t think about the 15 porters and 2 guides sitting in the back of the bus who would have defended us and I didn’t think about the possibility of the bus not stopping.

Which is exactly what happened. That bus convoy was not stopping for anything, no matter what got in the way, and we just kept right on going at top speed until we were past the danger.

But, for a few brief minutes (that seemed like forever), I was sure that just three weeks into our trip that it was all going to be over.

10 Oct

5 Months

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Sometimes I can’t believe it happened.

I lie in bed at night, or sit at my desk, or wander through the grocery store and try to remember what it was like when I wasn’t here. When I was there, in another country, another culture, another time.

It takes more effort than I think it should. To remember.

Sometimes I can’t believe how much it has changed me.

When we first got back I said that it hadn’t changed me. I said that I had taken this Gillian around the world  and had brought the same Gillian back.

There were no life-changing epiphanies for me, no thoughts of giving-it-all-up to live in an ashram, no great ground-breaking moments. Just me, coming back.

And then I slowly realized that it wasn’t the same Gillian.

That I am different.

That I have changed.

But, then again, I wonder if I have.

Or if this was in me all along.

05 Oct

OneGiantStep In The SpotLight

Vancouver Airport_v2 One of the good things about having a travel blog is finding other travelers and having the chance to connect with them.

Jeremy of LivingTheDream has a great series on his blog called ‘Traveler Spotlight’ and he asked us to be in the spotlight this week!

It was fun to re-live our trip while answering his questions and interesting to look back at other travelers ‘in the spotlight’ to see what their experiences are. And that’s the point of his series – to show all the different types of travelers and their stories of being on the road and coming home.

You can find our interview over at his blog – check it out.