Typecasts On the Road
by Abi66 on April 3, 2011
There are several types of people on the road. There are the types of people who use phrases like "on the road" and refer to their Lonely Planet as an LP, and abbreviate every place name as much as they possibly can. And not in a good way. I call these people traveling douchebags. I, of course, am always only ever ever being ironic with my abbrevs, I promise, even after nine months when I call you to tell you I'm in MXO (Mexico).
These douches are the kinds of people who dance samba with Cariocas and are convinced that the unassuming Latino shaking his hips between her legs is totally in love with her and that she seamlessly blends in with the fabric of this tribe or that community. And of course this particular samba is only ever convincingly genuine when wearing baggy sequin harem pants that were bought from a shaman in Rajasthan last year for six times the price as the last person. This kind of person will talk about free love and their three sexual and spiritual partners that they found in three different slums and favelas across the continents, which I imagine is a testament to their free spirit and unorthodox lifestyle choice. Although if it's as transparent as I think, it's just a testament to their huge phone bill and their at least three cases of venereal disease.
However, I, as you know, am somewhat of a cynic. And if you didn't know, you certainly do now. But I am willing to admit that there is another type of person. There are people who spend their time genuinely searching for a perfect beach, thriving on the beauty of ephemeral relationships with like-minded people and making art, jewelry and using their trade to do what makes them happy. I call these people "two feathers" because they often have a couple hanging out of an ear or nose piercing, or at least in the dreadlocks.
These are the kinds of people the douches try to replicate and desperately try to befriend but terribly, under the radar, know that they wouldn't last for one second living that life for real. Living without Facebook alone would incur aneurysms if these people ever did succeed at achieving two feather status. Traveling one continent for 12 years and spending a month on each beach you fall in love with, smiling every day and openly offering, with no pretense, knowledge and time to other, newer travelers that are lucky to cross paths with them. These lucky newbies stand out as fresh-faced and pale in a sea of weathered, leathery skin.
These potential nomads have shiny new backpacks, open, honest attitudes and an opportunity to join this exclusive two feather club should they give in to the waterfall showers, learn a trade to use "on the road" and learn the art of not regaling everyone with their stories too much. The truth is people like you and I probably couldn't give in, couldn't give up the Wifi connection or resist complaining at the sand in their pants or that the shampoo and conditioner here aren't quite the same.
I want to be able to camp on an island that is remote enough to make you feel like the victim of a positive apocalypse, on beaches where there is no electricity or running water, where the only hope of avoiding using sea water to rehydrate is a guy that comes around in a speed boat selling gallons of mineral water every morning. If I am honest with myself, I could do that...for like a day. Long weekend tops. But I have been sculpted by the Western world to want for a sense of productive purpose and have invested so much time in relationships that are far from transient--lifelong friends, in fact. Those are the first people I would think about when I get off the positive apocalyptic island, because I would be excited to tell you about how I survived it, ask you how you think they avoid smelling terrible without Radox roll-on and share my thoughts on coming back to reality.
That is reality for some people, I'm not one of them nor do I pretend to be. I'm the other kind of person. I don't know what category I fall under or what label I should be rudely spattered with all over some next man's blog. I'm one of those people who is just having a look about a bit before the world falls apart, searching for some interesting experiences and rubbing shoulders with unlikely people as long as they put a smile on my face. I'm starting to let that happen, I think. Sorry for being cynical and judgmental. I'm just saying.
Index: A Carioca is a genuine, local, born and bred Brazilian. Oh, no. Am I a douche?