Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What does adventure mean to you?

Adventure isn’t an event: it’s a state of mind. Finding a dead mermaid under Brooklyn Bridge was startling; so was desperately flailing to get out of the way of a seven-metre whale shark. Riding an eager horse who wanted to be in front, please, on a week-long back-country trek was exhausting; and so was battling with thin air for four days following the Inca Trail. I’ve slept in a swag on the banks of a crocodile-infested river in the Outback, been mugged on the streets of Santiago, had an up-close encounter with an irritated rhino in South Africa: they’ve all been adventures, and all have given me great stories to tell back home.
But adventurous travel doesn’t have to mean physical challenge and danger: it’s more about openness and acceptance. It’s sharing food with a stranger on a train, walking out of your hotel in a new city without a map, connecting with someone whose language you don’t speak, but whose face you can read like a book. It’s about stepping outside self-imposed boundaries, feeling awkward, risking rejection and doing it anyway.
Sometimes the scariest and most inspiring travel experiences have nothing to do with launching yourself backwards into the void, or walking alone through woods where bears live: sometimes, just accepting an invitation to join in with a group of elderly Indian ladies dancing at a picnic, and trying to be as loose-hipped and easy as they are, will give you memories that stay sharper than any crocodile's teeth.

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