This is Travel; This is Life


I woke up to my sticky hands plastered against my thighs.

The fan was off. The electricity shuts down at certain times throughout the night to conserve power, a reminder that even tourist hotels aren’t exempt from the subtle pangs of poverty.

It’s probably close to 5am, the sun desperately trying to rise, and the humidity shrouds over my body like a thick blanket. There is a natural cacophony out the window: dozens of birds chirping in different decibels, rhythms, and timbres, with stray dogs barking and monkeys chattering throughout.

You can hear women begin to sweep, the swoosh-swoosh-swish rhythm interlocking with the birds, dogs, and monkeys. I count down the minutes until the fan will turn back on and I can steal a few more moments of sleep.

I can barely move my left arm. I pulled it a few weeks ago and ignored the increasing amount of discomfort in the final days before leaving for Nepal. Now the sharp, electric stabs of pain are starkly present, so I move over to my back and stretch my arm to the side, feeling the mild pulse of pain against the thin sheet sopped in my sweat.

This is travel; this is life.

My mind is racing while also trudging through mud. Recent heartbreak overwhelms me; recent new beginnings overwhelm me, too. Things enter my life only to leave everything once destroyed, intact.

I think of the used bicycle, I think of you and this: “I paid for something falling a bit apart/ between us we kept it a bit together.”

My arm aches. I think about holding a warm coffee cup on this hot morning. I think of cold oats with icy milk. I think about how beautiful everything really, truly is.

I think about running circles around this place.

This is travel; this is life.

These small moments are when I feel inherently alive. The discomfort is a challenge, and the adjustment is the reward. I’m still in a jet-lagged, culture-shocked funk, my senses overstimulated though my mind still clouded.

And today we leave for more: another trip to an airport, another flight, and a long jeep ride along ragged roads that could take up to 14 hours.

This is travel; this is life.

The fan turns back on and I roll over for the last few minutes of sleep. 
And then we begin to move again.