Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Lightness of Being On The Road

So many writers have already written about it, I don't know if I can add anything new, but I've noticed that Big Dog and I are happiest, and happiest with each other, when we are on the road.

There's a certain kind of "lightness of being" that comes with extended travel. When on the road, we are able to accept whatever comes our way, to really just be in the moment. In fact, isn't that why we travel? For the unknown and the unexpected? There's also a physical "lightness" in which all we have is what we can carry. Both of us have way less baggage, actual and metaphorical. On the road, you can let go of "self." A traveler has no room inside for ego.

When you don't have anything, you don't have anything between each other either.

Aside from all of that, I love being in an unfamiliar culture. Just shopping for something as mundane as toilet paper can be a major adventure. (A little language always goes the wrong way!)

Big Dog and I were sitting on a bench in the town square of Tonala a few days ago, enjoying our nieve de garrafa (tasty homemade, handcranked ice cream that's a lot like gelato.) Big Dog got strawberry and I had vanilla (I would have had chocolate or nut but the vendor was out.)

"Did you know that straight men aren't supposed to be eating strawberry ice cream?"
"That's ridiculous."
"At least in Cuba." I continued to tell him about the Cuban movie "Fresa y Chocolate" but I could see he was more interested in the wood chopping fellow across the plaza.

"What IS he doing?"

The man was sitting on the ground, hacking away at a log placed between his knees. Chop, chop, chop. We were mesmerized by the swing of his machete. Then, along comes another man in a cowboy hat who stands in front of the wood chipper dude. The wood chipper starts pantomiming something that looks like...an aftershave ad! (He shakes an imaginary bottle onto the palm of his other hand, rubs his hands together and slaps his face a couple of times. You tell me the answer to this charade isn't "aftershave"!)

Before we can walk over to them, the cowboy has disappeared and wood chipper dude is finished with his chipping for the day. He's picking up his log and his machete and walking away, too, into the Sunday afternoon crowd.

"What was that all about?"

Guess we'll never know. Out here on the road, for now, it was simply a man chipping away at a log and an aftershave charade. Nothing more, nothing less.

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