Traveling With a Healthy Mindset

 As the bus began its ascent and could do nothing but putter seemingly slower than a person can walk, the handful of Gringos on the bus looked at one another with bewildered eyes:

Are you serious?  I can walk faster than this.

I kept my mouth shut as I was trying to engage in the art of positive thought.  I was also trying to adapt a When in Rome philosophy.  I noticed that the locals on the bus weren’t fazed by the lethargic start.  They were probably used to it, while the Gringos looked at one another perplexed.  Whatever the reason for the slow movement, I’d been used to slowness for two months while traveling in Central America.  You just can’t be in a hurry there.  I wanted to say this to my fellow travelers but because I felt jaded on the Gringo Trail, I kept it to myself.

I wanted to explain that we weren’t in the United States. We were in a developing land where living on the local economy keeps costs down.  Cheap and easy travel is very functional.  I thought: Why stress out and condescend the system?  Relax, the situation will fix itself.  Considering that the locals aren’t fazed by the slow movement, nothing can be wrong.

I continued to ponder: Maybe the driver is trying to save gas and wear on the old engine.  These people make a lot less, gas costs more, and the buses are old US school buses turned rejects.

 10 minutes went by and we were finally moving at a normal speed.

Positive thinking is paramount to successful travel.  Keeping an open mind allows you the mental readiness to deal with something strange or uncomfortable that may unexpectedly arise.

On a Sunday when I needed to get around Ometepe, I realized that the bus schedule was very limited on Sundays.  Instead of worrying about it, I hitchhiked and got a ride from a talkative Honduran in a big truck for part of the way, then had to walk about 10 kilometers.  I thought: I practiced my Spanish and got a scenic work out.

When one fellow traveler complained that she had to pay $.25 to use the bathroom at a bus terminal, I told her not to feel bad, that this was but a fraction of the $.70 I was forced to shell out for a toilet at a terminal in a neighboring land.

Often in a developing country people won’t have change for bills that don’t seem large to you.   Smile and wait patiently or make them happy by digging out the correct amount of cash.

You may find yourself claustrophobic because you’re stuck standing on a hot and sweaty bus.  Tell yourself that the exercise of standing is helpful for improving your overall balance and coordination.   Be glad that you’re not doing this daily and indefinitely like your temporary commuting counterparts.

You may get strange food that you don’t like.  Either find a way to like it or look at the bright side.  Now you know that you don’t like it and to never order it again.  Also, this gives you the opportunity to donate your food to a homeless person or dog(s), bird(s) so as not to waste it.  Not liking a type of food enables you to do a good deed.

If it unseasonably rains violently while you’re on a beach resort where you wanted to take advantage of the dream-like outdoors, don’t complain.  Suck it up! Find something positive to do.  Catch up with some reading or research. Use the time to write.   Hang out with fellow travelers and or locals.

Sometimes problems turn into something better than they might have otherwise been had something not gone awry.

My bus in the Ecuadorian Andes was forced to turn around in the middle of nowhere. Instead of fretting, I jumped off.  Due to packing light, I was fortunate to to take a random yet comfortable stroll through an Andean paradise.

It’s possible to become surprised and thrown off when you realize that it could take a month to get a visa needed to visit a certain land.  You foolishly assumed that you’d get one on arrival, like in most non-BRIC countries.  If this happens, tell yourself that you have no choice but to deal with the bureaucracy.

Instead of worrying about the small hardships, think on the bright side.  Think of how fortunate you are to be able to explore this vast and complex earth.

Have you ever had an uncomfortable travel experience that caused you to see something in a positive light?  Feel free to comment…


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