There was this pale, bleak, struggling yet kind face staring back at me. His home was no bigger than a shack and the bathroom – in terms of another room – seemed nonexistent. The city sidewalk was his office, located right outside his small shack sized room, inches from his like-minded neighbors, and below the mountainous – big brother like – building. And don’t forget about the dirt… like a helicopter dropped a load engulfing the entire city in brown and black and green.
Everyday. Every single day of their lives was waking up, setting up their store/shop/restaurant (which mostly consisted of a cart, some tables and chairs), tried to sell (food, clothes, accessories, etc.), ate, tried to sell again, ate, cleaned up, went to sleep and did it all over again. They lived on the sidewalks. Their life was the sidewalk. Whether or not they slept in an actual bed with a roof over their heads or on the floor… they lived and died at the will of the sidewalk. If they did not sell, they did not eat. No other jobs to apply for. No way to finance other hobbies or side hustles. No long term goals or investment strategies for retirement. No going out for lunch. No morning television or Saturday cartoons. The sidewalk was it.
There was also a young man and woman. Walking down the street looking for something to eat. Hand in hand they looked up at street signs, talked to the other, then went on walking. We crossed paths and without understanding a word of what the other was saying, we had a great conversation full of laughter and smiles. We went on walking and thanks to their guidance had a fantastic meal. The food was something I had never seen before and will probably never see again, the ingredients probably consisted of something I will never be able to pronounce or find again, thus, I’m certain that I will never be able to make something like that either. All I knew was that it was deliciously mouth watering, god worshippingly delectable. All the colours of the rainbow were accounted for as well as a full belly.
Out in the country were high held mountains of jungle and forestry. Rises and falls of green. The highway moved with the land, not against it and thus, you did the same. You could ride through the mountains, with the wind blowing, the sun shining and very few people to slow you down. Occasionally you’d see the working farmer or ox in their field, tending and mending their crops of rice, corn, indigo, or potatoes. They seemed content, even the ox.
I saw new faces which were sad, happy, grateful, jealous, angry and joyous. I tasted new food; that of which did not always taste as good as I mentioned. I met and talked to new people, mostly those who spoke english. I felt new feelings, like feeling lost, or scared, or happy, or tired, or excited. Even though I’ve experienced those type of feelings before, they were different, somehow, someway. I learned new things like how to cuss and say “too expensive” in another language, how to roll a spring roll, and how the locals like to drink and party. I also spent a lot of time with myself, despite being surrounded by people, which was extremely uncomfortable at first, but in a couple of days became very – for a lack of a better word… nice.
None of this would have been experienced if I didn’t travel.