Lessons and farewells

21:35, Oct 28 2012

You learn a lot on the road. And not just about dates and art and what that old ruin used to be.

No, you also learn things like how to ride any public transport system on the planet. Did the world's authorities have a big meeting one day to discuss how to make it easier for their global citizens to get around? It's doubtful, judging from how many different plugs there are and why no one can agree on which is the right side of the road to drive.

But how do you explain why every metro is basically the same? You get your ticket and put it into the machine that opens the magic gate. Then you look at your handy metro map (the universal language is lines and colours, so you can understand it in any country), figure out how to get to your station and off you go.

I remain amazed at how easy it was to use the subway in each place we visited, and how much each underground resembled its friends in other cities.

That's more than I can say for the aforementioned plugs and roads. If you're going on holiday and need to borrow an adapter, I'm your woman. While they were discussing public transport, it would've been great if the world's minds could've agreed upon one plug design and one voltage.

One side of the road for us all to drive on would've been nice too. I'm in left-handed Australia at the moment, but I've chopped and changed driving sides so much I no longer have any concept about which way to look for oncoming traffic.


My sense of direction has improved though (bonus!) I still can't read a map, but I've developed super observational powers so I can get my bearings in new places quick smart.

Moving around gets exhausting after a while. You familiarise yourself with one city, only to be plunged into somewhere fresh, so it was thoughtful of my brain to create my new skill (someone get me on an orienteering team.)

It has often come to my rescue when we've been rushing for a train. I always remember the right way to the station (this is quite the miracle.) When you've got a heavy pack on your back, saving time saves tempers.

And there's more time saving when it comes to packing. Gone are the days when I had to get two people to sit on my pack to zip it up. Now I know exactly where and how everything fits. I could pack that thing in five minutes in the dark.

Or the mist. Another thing you learn about travelling: roll with the punches, because your plans (whether carefully made or loose) will go wrong.

I still can't understand why the man at Cornwall's Land's End car park wouldn't waive the £5 fee. "But it's foggy - there's nothing to see!" Ted argued. The attendant's story about how nice the view was on a good day didn't help. With much teeth gnashing we paid (it was Land's End, there was nowhere else to go).

You learn to laugh, though, about standing on a cliff in Cornwall, straining your eyes into the white, hoping for a glimpse of the sea.

I didn't find it as funny when I rocked up to Washington DC's reflection pool, amped for my re-enactment of Forrest Gump and Jenny's emotional reunion, to find the pond drained for reconstruction.

DC's citizens didn't seem fazed though. It may seem a no-brainer to you, but it came as quite the shock to me: people's day-to-day lives are the same everywhere. I was amazed to see people walking around as if they didn't know they lived in ROME or LONDON or NEW YORK!

There's one more thing I've discovered. That six-month travel adventures end. I thought mine never would. We're about to hop on a plane back to Auckland and reality (anyone want to offer me a job?).

So it's farewell from me. Thanks so much for reading and commenting- without you I would've been just another crazy person ranting into the ether.

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