The Travel Bore

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I learned a long time ago that when returning from a journey, heart and mind filled with reflections on the things I have seen, people met, the places explored, the scents, emotions, secrets and sensations experienced, its really not good to talk about it too much.

Camera loaded with amazing photos, tales of people met, places seen and dangers overcome fill you, as you sit comfortable in the knowledge that you have something very special to offer now that you are home again and with friends. There is a fine point between simply saying that the travel was great and being a travel bore. Even sitting with another traveller it can become a competition trading the most beautiful, the most ugly, the highest, longest and most dangerous, oh and of course the oldest. Comparing notes on outlandish activities you would not do at home, and the sensuality of travelling is not wise, its easy to become a travel bore.

How much people really want to know you have to gauge. How many times people say would love to see your photos, but still they are unseen by all but you, except for one with a fabulous beach which is all they seem to want to see. You wonder why, you are slightly hurt. You have the wonders of the world to lay at your audience’s feet, but somehow they dont really want to know. “They are envious” you whisper to yourself, “they don’t care, they don’t understand”, but in truth they know that if you start you will never stop, and they will have nothing to say because for them such things are abstract compared to the appalling weather we have been having lately. You can hope that one day they will come to you and say “tell me all about Timbuctu” and then you can expound, but in truth they just want to know where you were and whether you enjoyed it. You are safe returned, that is enough. To hear the rest would be unsettling. So here is an ode to the travel bore!

The Traveled Man

SOMETIMES I wish the railroads all were torn out,

The ships all sunk among the coral strands.

I am so very weary, yea, so worn out,

With tales of those who visit foreign lands.

When asked to dine, to meet these traveled people,

My soup seems brewed from cemetery bones.

The fish grows cold on some cathedral steeple,

I miss two courses while I stare at thrones.

I’m forced to leave my salad quite untasted,

Some musty, moldy temple to explore.

The ices, fruit and coffee all are wasted

While into realms of ancient art I soar.

I’d rather take my chance of life and reason,

If in a den of roaring lions hurled

Than for a single year, ay, for one season,

To dwell with folks who’d traveled round the world.

So patronizing are they, so oppressive,

With pity for the ones who stay at home,

So mighty is their knowledge, so aggressive,

I ofttimes wish they had not ceased to roam.

They loathe the new, they quite detest the present;

They revel in a pre-Columbian morn;

Just dare to say America is pleasant,

And die beneath the glances of their scorn.

They are increasing at a rate alarming,

Go where I will, the traveled man is there.

And now I think that rustic wholly charming

Who has not strayed beyond his meadows fair.

 

Ella Wheeler Wilcox 1896

 

Beach Life

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Many years of travels have taught me that there is something mystical about beaches. I don’t know anyone who does not love the beach. We can complain about crowds or pebbles or litter but we all love the beach.

 

For some it’s a place to chill, relax, do nothing, sunbathe, watch the world, feel at one with our friends, enjoy family, make friends, have a sense of luxury, feel we are “somewhere else”, surround ourselves with the sounds of the beach, the crunch of sand, the dull ring of pebbles, the whisper of the sea, the roar of the ocean and the whipping sound of the wind on water. It’s a place where we lose a bit of our sense of time, where we don’t feel guilty about doing nothing. It is as someone said the “apotheosis of loafing”

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For others it’s a playground, a place to swim, surf, sail, splash, run, walk, a place where we feel that we realise what nature gives us for pleasure and make use of it, all for free. We feel that we are part of nature and to see a surfer on an empty beach early in the morning is to see someone at peace, someone who feels a part of the beauty and tranquility of nature but knows its power.

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Then there are those who find solitude on the beach, they walk, feel and above all think. They are in the one place where all the very elements of life itself come together, the water, the sky, the earth and the air, they are at one with it, liberated from the world and able to think with a clarity that daily life does not allow. They feel free . “To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude”

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We lie on beaches, we sleep on beaches, we camp on beaches, we walk to and from beaches, we endure crowds and jams to get to the beach, we travel far and wide to find the perfect beach for us, we anticipate for months in advance our next visit to the beach and when we get there we are never disappointed. We read of beaches, drool over photos of beaches, and long for that life free of the cares of the world where we can stroll out of our front door onto a beach of white sand, and then into crystal clear turquoise water that we seem to feel we can own.

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“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” We just love the beach.

Costa Rica – Caribbean Coast

 

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The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is far less developed than the more famous Pacific Coast. It has been more isolated for centuries and retains much of the natural wilderness that has existed for centuries. Its wet, tropical, a world of dense vegetation, blue sea, natural variety and abundant wild life.

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The main centre, the provincial capital is Limon, the largest port in Costa Rica. and north and South of Limon range tropical wildernesses including the Tortuguero National Park in the north and Chauita National Park in the south

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The jungle meets the ocean on this Caribbean coast, sandy beaches folding into dense jungle filled with wildlife and plants

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The area’s multiculturalism creates a unique atmosphere, with about 1/3rd of the local population being of Jamaican descent combined with indigenous Costa Rican people alongside, giving a flavour of life, culture, music and habits which is very special. Much of this can be found in Puerto Viejo, a surfing centre and town where the cultural mix finds expression in music and life.

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The wildlife is abundant including sloths, and the green jungle surrounds everything. Small hotels and guest houses are carved into that jungle, their development restricted to preserve the environment, and you wake to the sound of monkeys shouting in the trees beside your window.

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On the way were some Iguanas resting in a tree alongside a road bridge. Despite being quite small at first sight, they can look scaly and sinister but then their faces have an almost alien quality that almost smile at you with beady eyes that shine. They are mesmerising and gentle and look at you with an enigmatic smile. You can wonder whether they are nature’s version of the grumpy old man.!!

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The area is a step back in time to an equality between humans and nature.

 

Costa Rica – Cano Negro

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The Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is in the north of Costa Rica, close to the border with Nicaragua, about 140 kms from San Jose. It is isolated and accessible only by boat from the Banks of the river. If you want to stay nearby, there is the small town of Los Chiles about 20kms away, a traditional small Costa Rican town, with its own repeating energy.

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Riding down the broad river with its dark brown water, surrounded by vegetation encroaching right to the edge of river bank and as dense and tall as jungle can be, you get a “heart of darkness” feeling, the feeling that the strong flow of the river carries you to who knows what. In tributaries of the river the water is literally black, reflecting the volcanic earth of the river bottom.

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The river journey is through territory inhabited by myriad species of wildlife, endangered species, monkeys, birds, caimans and you are deep in their world, the surrounding jungle like a huge green wall.

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Monkeys climb and swing in nearby trees, howlers prominent in family groups, a caiman basks on a sand bank and lazily gets up to walks away, birds perch on broken logs in the river contemplating the life of the river, and small birds swoop out and follow the boat soaring and diving at speed. A Basilisk, known as the Jesus Christ lizard becuase of its ability to walk on water for up to 20 metres, sits on a tree.

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Being in a boat you don’t feel you are interfering, just a patient observer carried along by the power of the flow of the river. Creatures ignore you, having only a passing curiosity about you. You are in their world, and they own it.

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Costa Rica — Eco Tour

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Everyone these days confirms a commitment to the preservation of the environment. For some it’s merely a gesture for others a greater commitment. In Costa Rica you very quickly get to understand that they really mean it. Everyone knows understands and buys into the protection of the environment. You feel that the pride in their environment is real and natural and deep. They are proud of it and contribute to its preservation and delight in showing it. This is a land of nature and coffee and cacao, lakes, mountains, animals, and two oceans, a country that decided long ago not to have an army because of its history.

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The Arenal volcano is the youngest of the active Costa Rican volcanoes, situated in the Arenal Volcano National Park. The area is centred around the small town of La Fortuna from where you get access to the man made Lake Arenal and the nature reserve in the mountains. The sides of the top of the volcano are pockmarked by cracks from which smoke feeds and the side lined with the marks of lava flows from previous eruptions. From La Fortuna take a boat across Lake Arenal and from there up into the national park. The roads are not great but then again to build a road too big wouldn’t be good for the environment would it?

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This is a world of hiking, amazing plants, wild flowers, great scenery and every conceivable shade of green you could ever imagine, all in one place. Water cascades off the mountains as pure as any you can find. Development is encouraged to give access to the area but the drive to retain the character of the place makes it a very true experience.

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Further west Monteverdi hosts a cloud forest and amazing hot springs fed by the hot water emerging from this volcanic area. Hot springs are something special in Costa Rica and a must do. This whole area is eco tourism at its very best and most naturel. All the areas are also great for kayaking, and zip runs if that’s your thing. Its easy to get around, minibuses 4x4s transport you where you want to go. And of course you walk.

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Costa Rica is a small country so very accessible but its variety is extraordinary.