So this sounds like an outright lie. He’s in the Peace Corps! He lives in Africa! He must love adventures and exploring and have an unquenchable thirst for travel!
Yeah. No. Before I moved to Zambia last February, my extensive wandering beyond U.S. borders consisted entirely of a few hours spent in Vancouver and a couple of cruises that stopped in Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas long enough for me to find myself the proud owner of a small weapon made from the spike of a marlin. Not exactly James Cook over here. (Though in a fight, my marlinspike dagger makes me a formidable foe.)
There are a lot of reasons why I’ve never backpacked through Europe, eaten cheap, delicious food in Thailand, or taken pictures of pretty things in New Zealand. Some of them include:
1. I’m frugal
2. I’m a closet hipster, because
….2a. I don’t like to do what everyone else likes doing
….2b. I’m reluctant to part with money
3. I can backpack through the Sierra Nevada, make my own cheap, delicious food, and take pictures of pretty things right outside my door
4. Did I mention that I don’t like to spend money?
I’m only a few hours away from beginning my third international flight in under a year. My five-times-delayed flight that was supposed to depart two days ago turned into 4.5 hours on hold with Orbitz and JetBlue while sitting in the cell phone waiting lot outside SeaTac after midnight, and I’ve found myself in possession of an entirely new itinerary that has me taking the scenic route to Lusaka by way of Dallas/Forth Worth, Washington D.C., Senegal, and Johannesburg. Once I arrive in Lusaka, I’ll take a 10-hour bus ride to Mansa, my provincial capital, and from there catch another bus in order to travel the remaining 240 kilometers back to site.
If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 24 hours of flying, 11 hours of layovers, 14 hours on buses, and not a few hours of me feeling sorry for myself.
I still don’t like traveling. Living in sub-Saharan Africa hasn’t changed this, even if it has given me a bit more patience and a lot more experience in reacting to things that don’t go as planned. But what I do enjoy is learning about a new culture, adjusting to a new life, experiencing a new world. Living, rather than traveling.
And being a Peace Corps volunteer offers the opportunity to focus on living in spades. Zambia, I can’t wait to come back.