I have a secret. I am not a light traveler. Most long term travelers consider this a burden only the most foolish foist upon themselves. Some of them travel with only a 32 or 50 liter backpack. Personally I cannot imagine it.
“You have a lot of stuff,” people often say to me, sometimes in a derogatory tone.
“Yeah, I know!” I respond laughing.
It is not so much stuff in my opinion for nearly two years of nomadic living — one medium sized albeit heavy suitcase on wheels, a 42 liter backpack and a big shoulder bag. Plus the guitar I bought in Egypt which I admit makes everything a little unwieldy. Still I manage and can lug it all myself though preferably not long distances or up hills.
Maybe it is excessive. Inside my bags I have crystals (yes I have rocks in my bag probably too many), Tong Ren healing equipment (of course), scarves and shawls from Gambia, Egypt and India (maybe more than necessary), six packages of incense (good smells bring joy, plus it was hard to choose just two), yoga mat (duh), handouts for reiki level 1 and 2 trainings (only one copy), multiple hair products, make up and a mini hair iron (looking good is feeling good!), small bag of flower essences (for emotional balance), enough clothing that I do not have to wash clothing every day or three because I am too lazy for this, only one tarot card deck, sneakers and flip flops, lap top with extra battery, mouse and external keyboard, and fairly long list of miscellaneous items including little gifts I have bought along the way which I felt i could not live without like a cool knife in a handmade leather holster with a camel bone handle from Siwa Oasis and colorful little carry bags from Pushcar.
I also have a big bag of medication. That is my other secret. I have been sick. A lot. In fact just last week in Pokhara Nepal I was diagnosed with Giardia, I think for the second time. Who can keep track. I think I have had five episodes of parasites over the past one and a half years as well as multiple episodes of bacterial intestinal infections from new food and water organisms or from ingesting unhygienic food or water. I have also had a series of colds and flus, not to mention the heat stroke in the Gambia which set my electrolytes dangerously out of balance and coupled with a nasty bacterial infection led to two days in a hospital. I know it sounds bad but I am laughing as I write this because it is so crazy I have to laugh. It’s life, my life, and it keeps going on and I survive sometimes very well, other times in a more bedraggled style.
OK there are other secrets. Like I thought it would be lark to smoke tobacco in Egypt and now I can’t stop, leading to various lung problems requiring more medication. Moreover, in Egypt after decades of personal healing I decided I was cured of the disease of addiction and experimented with various, um, mind altering substances unique to the areas I have been in. I dabbled. Siwa Oasis has an extremely strong local alcohol from dates, Manali is famous for hashish, in Pushkar I discovered a paste cooked from marijuana leaves called bhanga commonly put in yogurt lassi drinks, and in Khajuraho a local alcohol made from oranges. I even tried opium ! which is considered a medicine in India and I believe legal or quasi legal. Despite these forays I continue to spend the vast majority of my time clear headed and unaltered per the last 24 years of my life and that is often just as fun or even more amazing.
Ah freedom! Sure there are dark corners some of which I am still extricating myself, but it is like a ferris wheel, there are ups and downs. Meanwhile I am on it and will ride this freaking thing for all it’s worth. Reveling in all the silly things crammed into my suitcase, stumbling my way through chaotic hospitals employed with well and poorly trained doctors. I laugh at the incongruity of it all.
I wrote a new song called “Stop Trying to Understand.” One verse goes:
It’s a thin line
into the nothing
it’s a black bird flying in the night
on a moonless sky
I don’t try to understand anymore. I just go forward. Today. Today. Today. It beckons like the towering snow capped mountains surrounding Pokhara, like the sun glistening on the Phew Lake. It is a medicine too. Even the plants and trees outside my balcony speak to me of more. Of things beyond the body, beyond the mind. Of the friendships forged with people across the globe. Of deserts unfurling like God. Of undulating azure seas and ceremonies on mountainsides that lift me in ways I didn’t know before.
There is one more medicine my heart is pining for. Home. It just began it’s tap tap tap. Friends and family have been too far for too long. I am not sure when but soon I will board another plane, lugging my bags and medicine, my crystals and scarves. But for now there is Kathmandu, I am considering renting an apartment to stay awhile, rest my weary bones. Then off, off I will go. Into the next today.
Here’s a cool video about visiting Nepal that I am in!! Made by Deepak in above photo in Pokhara.