BootsnAll Travel Network

My Blog

I want to see the world. I've seen some of it, but rather than satisfying me, that only made me want to see more! Read here about my current travels, my past travels, and what I hope to do in the future.

This Blog (And Its Purpose)

October 8th, 2007

I’ve been reading a lot on the BootsnAll travel forums (I don’t have a lot to contribute as I don’t have a huge amount of travelling experience yet), and I stumbled across a thread on good and bad travel blogs. I’m trying to make this interesting, but I guess I don’t have too many very interesting experiences yet–this is more for me, for remembering what I do and sorting out my thoughts on travelling in the future (which is something I want to do even though everyone in America tells me long-term travel is insane and unrealistic). Hopefully, though, I’ll become a better writer as I go. It’s not like I have zero writing experience; I have another blog, about books, I’ve done a bit more of book reviewing, I have an essay in an anthology out next month, and of course being a student I’ve done my fair share of that kind of writing, I keep a journal, I write poetry…So, yes, I can spell. I am pretty good with the grammar. I know how to construct a sentence. But, really, that doesn’t mean anything when it comes to travel writing, does it? So, hopefully, I’ll learn as I go. I think that travel writing would be an amazing way to make some extra money (I don’t know that it would be easy to live off of) while doing something I love (travelling). This blog is practice. I guess it’s a combination of travel writing and a journal, since I currently don’t do enough travelling to warrant an entire blog full of descriptions of my travels. Hopefully, it’s not as bad as some of what is described. If anyone’s reading this, though, and you have a comment, suggestions are appreciated!


Calahonda, Spain

October 8th, 2007

This summer, I fell in love with the world. I know, it sounds cliche. I actually got to experience something outside of the Southeast. I hadn’t done much of that before, not when I was old enough to really enjoy it or understand it. I’d read about far-off places, dreamed about them, but that’s as far as I had gotten. I had visited Vermont, Seattle (and the Washington coast–I don’t remember much, but I did love the beaches there. So gorgeous and drastically different from what we have here), and a few other places before I can remember at all (Toronto and San Francisco and New Hampshire and Texas before I was four, so I don’t actually remember that). I don’t count that as real travel experience, though, because what I remember mostly is whining about the long car ride and staying in a hotel with a swimming pool. Plus, it was all domestic travel (not to discount domestic travel, it’s just way more familiar). This summer, though, my grandparents took me on a three-week trip to England and Spain. We started in England, and moved on to Spain. I’ll blog about England later, but right now I feel like remembering Southern Spain–specifically, the town where we stayed, Calahonda.

We flew from London to Malaga, but we didn’t actually spend any time in Malaga. I helped them navigate the airport in Spanish, and we got our rental car and drove to our hotel in Calahonda (between Marbella and Malaga). It took us a couple of tries to get there, especially because I hadn’t yet adapted to the Andalucian accent (most of the Spanish I hear here is Mexican, and I had a Colombian teacher) and so had some difficulties understanding the people I asked for directions! This was the first of several experiences which make me think that Mapquest is not too reliable when it comes to directions in Spain. We drove around aimlessly quite a lot. I didn’t mind it, but my grandfather has kind of a short temper.

Calahonda isn’t a very big town, and I don’t know that I saw all of it, as most of our time there was spent going on day trips. I saw a lot of British tourists (actually, this applies to a lot of Southern Spain; I guess the English like to go on holiday where there’s lots of sun, as England can be kind of dreary), and the town itself was not particularly special; lots of hotels and resorts, a couple of supermarkets, some bars and restaurants. But I did love the beach.

The woman at the reception desk didn’t give particularly clear directions as to where the public beach was, but I set out on foot to try and find it anyway. I got kind of lost, but eventually ended up at the sea; however, I had to find a gap in a fence at a restricted and deserted beach to get there (I never did find the public beach). I’m glad I did. It was gorgeous; a narow, deserted, rocky beach on the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean is so different from the beaches on the Atlantic that I’ve been to, in the Southeast. So gorgeous. I can’t even describe how amazing it was. I am not usually a fan of the beach, but I didn’t want to leave this one. I had to, as my grandparents were waiting for me back at the hotel, but I sure didn’t want to. That was my favorite beach ever (a close second would be the rocky beaches on the Washington coast where I saw bald eagles and sea otters as a child); something about that beauty just makes white sand seem so boring and generic. I could spend days wandering up and down that particular bit of coastline. Except that my grandmother thinks that if I go to a deserted beach I’ll get kidnapped. Now, I close my eyes, I see it, I feel it again, I remember that hike in the hot sun up and down the steep hills not knowing where I was going was so, so worth it.

Calahonda is full of steep hills and twisting streets and people who give directions that are mostly “go up the hill” or “go down the hill” and thus not particularly helpful. It’s also full of drunken British tourists watching football on television all up and down the main street (though that’s not too different from any pub in England I saw, anyway), and African immigrants selling pirated DVDs and designer knockoffs (which I saw a lot of in the whole area of the Costa del Sol). And the only place I could find to access the internet outside of the severely overpriced coin-operated hotel computers was a PC in the back of a little shop selling random junk. Walking away from the street of little tourist shops and restaurants (several Chinese restaurants), down the hill, are the chain supermarkets and the like. Up at the top of the hill is a restaurant called Miel y Nata, which my grandmother loved so much that we ate there four times that week (and, in the same strip, a little convenience store and another restaurant). They very nicely gave us directions and were pretty reasonably-priced, if not amazing food. I would have liked to have gone someplace else, but, well, when travelling with other people I guess you can’t make all the decisions. Lots and lots of tourists in the whole town; there were resorts and hotels everywhere. Still, it was a nice enough town, and I enjoyed wandering down the less touristy, more residential streets.

Down by the resort pool on night, they had a sort of free community theatre production of Mamma Mia. That was interesting, to say the least. The weather was gorgeous, though, so I was glad to be outside. I loved the weather the whole time, actually. Brilliant. Warm, breezy (rather than the humidity at home), just amazing. Anyway, this was a very low-budget production, obviously, and it was also bilingual. Sometimes they spoke Spanish, sometimes they spoke English. The songs were in English, obviously. I am not actually sure they sang them all. I think they were lip-synching a lot, even, oddly, to some of the dialogue. And the costumes were kind of weird. I understood the whole thing, and it was weird for me–it must have been really weird for the people who only understood half of it! It was kind of fun, though. I really enjoyed it, despite (because of?) its weirdness. And the weather, I must restate, was gorgeous! Spain at night was probably one of my favorite things about the whole trip, both because that’s when all the exciting stuff happens, and because it was so cool and breezy and wonderful compared to what it would have been at home!

My main images of Calahonda now are the gorgeous beach, getting lost, lots of Abba songs (they had someone just performing those songs another night, and it drifted in through the window to the room with the weird coin-operated computers) and the steep hills! And the many times that directions said “up the hill” and “down the hill” — even directions from the internet.

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How I Plan To Travel

October 8th, 2007

I am planning on taking a year or two off between high school and college to see the world. The real world, outside of the education system that thinks it is normal to lock thousands of teenagers in a building with no windows for 8 hours a day and attempt to control them and “prepare them for the real world” by forcing upon them all sorts of arbitrary rules and regulations that in no way support independence or even thinking. Mass production is the doctrine of the American educational system.

Anyway, unless I’m really lucky, I’m probably going to have to start out at home, where I have a place to live (although perhaps I’ll stay with my grandparents instead, just for a change of pace), working a job in retail or as a waitress, to save some cash to start my travels (hopefully I’ll also be able to find some work on the way). Once I’ve done that for a few months, I set off to see the world (not for the last time in my life, with any luck).

For part of my trip, I want to stay in Spain, teaching English to a family for room and board (and improving my Spanish) through this program: Not only will I get to work on my Spanish, I’ll also get to really experience Spain. I had a taste of it this summer (I travelled a bit in the Costa del Sol, and also visited Madrid), and I can’t wait to go back for more. With any luck, I’ll be able to find a bit of paying work there, too–just yard work or babysitting or tutoring English or something, as I won’t have a real work permit, I don’t think.

I’ll also spend some time backpacking around, probably starting in Europe (seeing as, if I start out with the Hableme program, I’ll already be there). I think my best friend is planning on joining me for at least part of this, which will be great. This will be really, really budget travelling–WWOOFing, camping, Couchsurfing, hitchhiking, and hopefully also finding work as we go.

I’m pretty flexible and adaptable; the one thing about me that will hold me back while travelling is that I’m quite shy. I’ll have to work on that, and will probably be forced to be more outgoing while on the road! Another issue might be that I am a vegetarian and sort of a picky eater, though I guess I’d have to learn to get over being picky, and I guess it’s probably not too difficult in most places to manage as a vegetarian; easier, probably, because meat is expensive!

The backpacking will be largely staying in one place for a good chunk of time, I imagine, although travel will probably be easier (cheaper) in cheaper parts of the world. Outside of Europe, I know I want to spend some time in the Middle East and South/Central America (got to put my knowledge of Spanish to some good use! This will probably be the last part of my trip, as it’s closest to the US), and India, and I hope I’ll get to visit Asia (I hear SE Asia is relatively cheap, so I’ll probably go there if I’m running low on cash) and Australia/New Zealand as well (though they’re not as high on my list). I don’t know about Sub-Saharan Africa; everyone I’ve ever known to go there has been for safaris, which, I’m sure are awesome, but maybe too expensive for someone like me.

This is by no means anything like an itinerary; this is just a vague plan based on a little bit of reading and research, but I plan to do far more of that as I get closer to this trip. Although I doubt I’ll have anything like an itinerary for the entire trip. I don’t even know how long it’s going to last; as long as financially possible, I guess. After that’s up, I’ll go to college. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do the career thing, though. I don’t know if I could settle down for more than a year or two without being miserable. That’s why TEFL is a good option for me! I can just go for a year or two in each place. However, I don’t think that’s really a long-term career for most people. So I don’t know yet. But I do have awhile to figure it out!

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October 7th, 2007

Hi, everyone! I am a sixteen-year-old who has always wanted to travel, but that desire became way more intense this summer, when I spent a few weeks travelling, mostly in England and Spain (but also visiting Gibraltar, an English protectorate, and Morocco). I don’t think I’ll be doing any international travelling in the next couple of years, but I’ll be blogging about the travelling I do here in the US (I live in Asheville, NC–if anyone’s thinking about coming here and wants tips, feel free to ask!), about my previous experiences travelling, and about what I plan to do in the future (as well as whatever else catches my attention and is in some way travel-related).

Especially for someone living in the Southern US (where I’ve lived for the past thirteen years or so–I lived in Ohio when I was very small), I guess I’m pretty “international” (I don’t know what a good word for it is, really). For instance, most of my news comes not from my local newspaper that doesn’t cover much outside of Western North Carolina, but from the BBC or the New York Times.

I have a working knowledge of Spanish (hoping to spend some substantial time in a Spanish-speaking country in the future and become fluent), am also currently studying French, have previously had some experience with Russian and Japanese, and hope to learn particularly Arabic in the future. I listen to Spanish music and watch Spanish television to improve my Spanish.

I am obviously still in high school, where my favorite classes are Spanish and World History. Between college and high school, I want to do a gap year (or two), working and travelling (hopefully able to combine the two for some of that time). For college, I am probably going to major in International Relations and/or Political Science, minoring in Spanish and/or Arabic. I don’t really know where I want to go to college, but hopefully somewhere in Europe (England is my top choice, but also one of the more expensive ones). After that, I’m not sure what I want in the way of a career, but I want to get my TEFL certificate and spend at least a few years teaching English around the world.

I don’t know what happens after this life; this life may be all I’ve got, and, in it, I want to see as much of the world as possible. I also, at some point in my life, want to make a difference in the world, but I figure that to make the best difference in the world, I should know the world. So that’s my most immediate goal.

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