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Remember to Breathe

SPAIN | Thursday, 28 August 2014 | Views [1020] | Comments [1]

I was wrong. So very, very wrong. And as usual, I had to learn it the hard way. I never thought travel could wear me out. I thought I was invincible, constantly dreaming of the next place to go, the next thing to do, how I would love to be on the road forever. But exhaustion combined with a mild case of food poisoning did me in (FYI: if you order a burger, please make sure it is cooked before you eat half of it).

When I jumped on the train to Madrid it was a cool morning in Bilbao, and even though I had gotten very little sleep because of festival life, I felt fairly decent and ready to go. The train pulled out of the station and I peered out the window for several hours, watching the rolling hills, tiny cottages, vineyards, and mountains pass by. I dozed on and off, catching up on missed sleep from the night before, but careful so as not to miss a choice piece of scenery.

We arrived in Madrid in the early afternoon, and I quickly checked into the hostel and mentally prepped myself for an evening of tapas, museums, and possibly a show at a local theater. But once I sat down on my bed, I collapsed.  I did not have the energy to move a single muscle and was drained both physically and mentally. Moving to adjust the pillow behind my head literally took every ounce of energy I could muster. 

This could not be happening. Not now. Not in Madrid, where I so longed to trace Hemingway’s footsteps, wander the Prado, and bask in the history. Not on the final stop of my trip, my last few days in Spain. I was immensely frustrated at myself for being so “lazy” and not going straight out to see and experience Madrid. What kind of traveler was I, just sitting in my hostel bed staring at the wall?

I could have forced myself to keep going. To push through it all and go out anyways. But instead I sat in my bed, drinking copious amounts of water and talking with my new roommates. I caught up on research, writing, and planning. And I let my body recuperate from late nights, early mornings, and busy days.

Sometimes travel means being on the go all the time, making the most of each day in a new country or city. But it also means occasionally taking some downtime to relax with fellow travelers and simply enjoy new environment from a place of comfort.

If I ran myself ragged, would I really be making good memories and having positive experiences, or will I simply be going for the sake of going? I want to travel out of passion, and I want to go places and see things out of desire, not a feeling of obligation.

So what if I miss seeing a few tourist sights along the way, don’t get to eat at a specific restaurant, or sleep in an extra hour? Does that mean I have not traveled, have not seen, have not experienced? I think not. I believe it means I know when to slow down, to breathe in, to rekindle my fire. To remember what I love, why I live, and what makes me feel alive. And today that has made all the difference. 

Tags: break, exhaustion, learning, rest, travel

 

Comments

1

I really resonated with this post, Rachel. For some travel is all about ticking items off a list, but to people like us it is so much more. The longer we travel the more we realise we don't have to see every 'must see' attraction. It is important to just simply be, resting when required and withdrawing when needed. Hours spent sitting in a cafe isn't time wasted unless that is how you view it. Glad to read you rekindled your fire!

  jazzanomadica Sep 5, 2014 12:10 AM

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