Not by other cycle tourers or back packers – but many of the people I met while I was away thought I was “brave” – brave because of the distance I was doing and / or that I was in a foreign country away from home and / or “because I was a girl”! – I didn’t think I was brave but never seemed to find the right words to say what I felt.
Last week I went with friends to watch European Outdoor Film Tour (EOFT) – 7 short films that covered big wall climbing; base jumping; building a dugout canoe and padding down a far flung jungle river (and eating grubs and bugs); skiing in and across glaciers; kayaking through icy waters in an unexplored area of Iceland amongst other scary but exciting adventures – to me this was “brave” but maybe they didn’t think so either?? But the films got me thinking about what is being brave??
BRAVE – definition: “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”
Certainly in my case I don’t think doing something I love is brave – I would say I am very lucky and fortunate to be able to have got the time off work to go and explore another country on my trusty steed and had an absolutely amazing time – but on my journey across America I was never very far off the beaten track – I was almost pretty sure (apart from a short while in the Badlands) that if need be someone would stop and help me – and they did; yes I had to be a bit more wary of wildlife – possibly seeing bears and poisonous snakes but there are more deadly animals in other countries; – I never had to worry about food (unless you count and excess of McDonalds and too much fizzy pop); I did run out of water once, but again was never too far away from help and soon got a refill; I could mostly understand the lingo and they could mostly understand me except one annoying man who kept telling me I spoke “weird” – more annoying was that he assumed any Mexican I met was likely to rape me and that they couldn’t cook either (but that’s another story) – he didn’t believe me when I tried to explain that I was having a good time and felt perfectly safe. The most frightening thing about America was that a large percentage of perfectly sane, friendly, helpful people seem to think it’s ok to have a gun – apart from hunting why would you want to have a gun?? – and some people were concerned that I was travelling without one – why on earth would someone sell me a gun even if I wanted one – someone who has no coordination; is quite likely to lose it (and then, for examples sake, end up in the hands of a toddler who then accidentally shoots his or her brother – it happens); who can barely carry a pint of cider or a cup of tea without spilling some of it; who has no aim – the last time I tried to win a teddy at a fairground I missed the dart board altogether and hit the bear instead and still didn’t get to keep the bear! – but apparently in many States of America (if I was American) I could go and buy a gun and this is frightening.
But I have now gone off on a complete tangent – back to being “brave” – the “brave” bit was making the decision that I could and would take some time out of work and follow one of my dreams but not the actual journey itself – maybe I read too many adventure journals and blogs or maybe I need to up the anti and be “braver” – go to more far flung areas of the world; try different food; go more off the beaten track; countries where they don’t speak English; countries where they don’t have the same water sanitation that we are lucky to have; countries that don’t have the same health and safety that we have – all things that make travel even more exciting and interesting – and one day I will.
Ps – to everyone who has a goal and / or a dream, no matter how small or big – be “brave” and go for it – that’s always the hardest bit!