So Lu and I were splurging a little. We had pizza and beer. I mean after 14 hours of travel and getting through the Tanzania-Zambia border we felt we deserved it. We have eaten our fair share of beef stew with Ugali and greens it felt about time to get some melted cheese in us.
Often when Lu and I are having pizza and beer (as we did every Friday in London) our conversations go on for a little longer. Probably the rush of endorphins from pizza and the liquid massage of beer (booze) gets talk going. We often talk about childhood and while we were talking I started to think about how my concept of what the world is and exploring it has grown and keeps getting bigger and bigger.
When I was little or as far back as I can remember having a concept of the world, the world was pretty much our house. I remember even in the house there were unexplored places. Such as the secret area in the attic, the creepy basement room with all the broken pots, the unused basement bathroom, basically the basement in general. The basement is pretty scary, but after a while I eventually had to go get something from the basement and explored it. As I got older my view of the world expanded to my hosue and my street. I became friends with the other kids on the street and we would play hockey in the street or when playing hide and go seek we might discover a secret passageway between the two houses. Finally I got to the age where I had to go to school. From there I met the other kids in the neighborhood and for years we ran around our streets and park, but then expanded to walking downtown every weekend, making my world even bigger. I was introduced to new ideas, like used CDs and Taco Bell. After a while we got bikes and so now our 1-2 hour long walks downtown could be done in 10 minutes. My friends and I then explored some of the neighborhoods off of downtown, some of the surrounding park, swimming pools and the river, also the circle of friends grew since now we could see each other with our getting a ride. At this point we thought we knew everywhere in town, but then came getting driving licenses. From there we went to all places both just under our noses and at the edge of town. Also we started to go to other towns, other parts of the state, and just before leaving for college we started road trips. We thought we could then go anywhere in a car. But living in the states is like that, the country is so big that most people never leave it so having a car is the key to the world. Throughout college my friends and I road tripped whenever we could. Sometimes even a trip to the airport ended up getting lost and exploring some part of the state we never thought to go to. Trips to Northern Michigan used to seem like they took ALL DAY, but by college it was basically just a commute. (Especially when you have a friend who is going over 100 the whole way back from northern Michigan….. you know who you are). Then came the time to leave the state, I moved to Montana, then Wyoming, then Seattle. After that the US started to seem smaller, easier to grasp the distance and just because something might be a 30 hour drive away it seemed totally do able. In Seattle I got back into biking. Biking is probably the best way to explore the world now that I look back on it. I was able to cover so much of the city but still be connected and not in the bubble of a car. We discovered routes through the city that used less hills, road full speed down the main street at 2 am with no cars, and explored the islands around the city, or just went for a beer. But by bike I really started to appreciate the little things again, the small discoveries, where as in a car I was covering a lot of ground, but not taking everything in. When I came to Europe I decided to use my own two feet more. I walked everywhere both in my travels around Europe and in London. I walked for 8 hours around Berlin, I walked from Gard du Norde to the 16 District via the Champs Elysee with a bag on my back, and spent hours getting lost in Sarajevo with Lu. Later in London when I didn’t have work I just walked everywhere, I didn’t have a job so to save money I just walked. I walked to Brent from Homerton, from Wimbledon to Battersea, from Picadilly to Whitechapel. London must be explored this way as it has so many tiny streets, alleyways and small shops that even on bike you might miss a little wonder. So again progressing backwards, my world was expanding, but it’s the little details that really matter.
So now things like renting a car in Slovenia from some dude at bar seems second nature, where as a few years before it would have scared the hell out of me. But after renting that car we made sure to appreciate the good views from the car or the simplicity of good Burek and to enjoy the time with friends in the car.
While I am on a wonderful trip now, we both look back at our previous explorations. They look small and probably hilarious that they were considered explorations, but now it is sort of the same way now just a bigger scale. Every day here is not discovering a new species, or an encounter with a Lion, or an epic encounter with a tribe. Most days we end up finding a new small shop in some small town, finding a new deal on a local bus, or a bakery that is only open on Sundays. So it is still the small discoveries that thrill us, but eating an egg bought from our bus window is not something I have had on my other explorations.