A Snapshot of My First Days on the Road

October 29, 2013 | , ,

I highly recommend keeping a journal when you travel. It’s the perfect way to record those spur-of-the-moment impressions and the little things we might not think to share with others.

When I was on my round-the-world trip, I kept a blog, but I also filled a small pile of paper journals as I made my way around the globe. Although they’re sitting in a box at my parents’ house, I’m glad to have those memories of my trip.

The entries below are from my first days on the road, leaving San Francisco on September 10, 2004, spending the night in Lima, Peru, and landing in Cusco to stay with a host family and study Spanish.

Nothing can compare to the in-the-moment writing from that first plane ride! And I’d forgotten about some of the little things that happened along the way, so it’s cool to be reminded.

After nine more years of Spanish under my belt, I’m a little embarrassed at some of the phrases I wrote, but I’ll leave them intact for authenticity. 🙂

I’m doing it. I’m on a plane, and the adventure I’ve been dreaming of for years is finally beginning. Still doesn’t feel real. I keep having flashes of things I might have forgotten to bring, things I may have forgotten to do. But none of it really matters anymore… I’m on the road! I was such a nervous wreck this morning, but I’m feeling a little better now.

Things started off crazy… [not being able to find the right terminal for my flight]. I was kind of freaking out and I am really glad that J and C helped me get things straight before they left.

Right after I got through security, one of the handles on the paper bag full of host family gifts ripped, but I was able to get a better bag from the duty-free shop. I got a plastic bag to protect the wine (and my other stuff) at a newsstand, and the Continental woman at the gate had packing tape which she used to help me secure the stuff in the shopping bag so it wouldn’t spill out in the overhead bin. So far, it seems all I have to do is ask, and I get what I need. A good lesson as I embark on this journey.

This morning, as we neared the airport, Guido [the hostel’s driver who took me to and from the airport] explained that in Lima it’s customary, when greeting and seeing visitors off, to give them a hug and a kiss on the mouth. “A boca?” I asked, eyebrows raised. “Sí,” he said, just a quick smack—he showed me with a quick one on his hand. He said it means “Travel well. Welcome to Peru.”

I wasn’t sure I should believe him, but at least he was warning me of his plan. “Gracias para explicar,” I said. At the airport, I leaned in for a hug, hoping we could skip the kissing part. True to his word, Guido took me by the shoulders and placed a fast, chaste, dry kiss on my chapped lips. And I left.

9/11, later
The host family is nice, and I feel comfortable here, but it’s a little exhausting trying to listen to all of their conversation both to me and amongst each other.

This morning, Carmen [the grandmother of the family] was sure to tell me when lunch was, but I have no idea when dinner is! They do eat after 1:30 pm here, right? I’m getting hungry and am afraid it’ll seem rude if I ask. On the other hand, they might not tell me, thinking I’d rather sleep!

Update: Went downstairs around 6 and was right on time for supper!

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