Thursday 16 January 2014

Here we go again...

Long time, no blog.

I can only apologise to those of you who breathed a long sigh of relief when the last wordy travel epic ended. It's your own fault really coming back for another look. Like some sort of gruesome yet strangely compelling road accident. You sadistic sicko. Anyway, welcome back. Here we go again...

Circumstances are different this time round: The previous trip was one solely undertaken for selfish purposes of exploration and pleasure. Those two factors remain, but are now bolstered by the additional excuse of 'working'. I've been hired by a boutique travel agency as a freelance tour leader, ready to be called upon to lead tours all over the continent at short notice. Their tour offerings are semi-luxury, small-group and fairly expensive. As such, the clientele are generally well-monied with little desire to slum it and occupying the older age bracket. Mostly retirees and couples in their 50/60/70s. Yes, this is going to be wild like that Magaluf 'tour' you once went on. I'm glad I packed my condoms. Both of them.

In a nutshell, my job is to meet clients on their arrival at the airport and then remain by their side, organising accommodation, restaurants, excursions, border crossings, transport, drivers and guides for the duration of the trip. (The nutshell here is metaphorical, attempting to coordinate all of this from within the confines of a small snack casing would be impractical).

After two years living in London, I would most likely be planning to head off (read: run away from all responsibility) again now anyway. The new job helpfully validates this life choice. I can kid myself I'm not just wasting more time. I'm working!

To be honest, though, I'm not sure when I'm meant to grow out of this travelling lark. I keep assuming it'll happen eventually as increasing numbers of my peers settle down, select a spouse, get married, produce offspring, procure housing and grimace through a 9 to 5 in order to facilitate such a lifestyle.

The allure of the open road, the unknown of a one-way adventure to a foreign land, the frightening unpredictability and glorious freedom that comes with living out of a backpack day-by-day with no real idea of where you're going or what you'll be doing next. This all somehow still seems the superior option to me. Who knows? Maybe I'll grow out of it yet...

For now, though, I'm back where I feel I belong: nowhere in particular, no fixed abode. Home is currently Quito, Ecuador from where my first tour is due to depart on 1st Feb. Before then, I've enrolled in a language school including accommodation with a local family to brush up the Spanish skills. Arrival on day one at the school was marked with a confident, headstrong stroll into a remarkably clean screen door. "Hola. Soy James!". First impressions and all. Once I've finished this week of classes, I should have time to trace the upcoming tour route across Ecuador, familiarising myself with everything I'll be pretending to know about next month. After that, who knows!?

There's not a whole lot more to fill you in on right now. Except today at lunch my Sopa de Carne came with popcorn in it. Muy comun out here, apparently. See, this is what I'm talking about! The unpredictability and unexpected occurrences that only travelling can provide. You won't 'find yourself' staring into a Minestrone from Tesco. No! Such lofty aims can only be achieved in exotic climes with soggy popcorn floating in a meaty broth.

I'm also acutely aware of the 'positive criticism' my last tome received regarding length, so I'll be trying to keep this series of blogs shorter and more succinct, focusing on one theme or occurrence rather than a constant stream of everything in the world and on my mind on a daily basis. My personal journal can house all those filthy confessions. Still, you don't have to read if you don't want to. Haven't you heard? I'm working out here. I no longer have the time to pen weekly theses, I no longer need to rely on some impossible ideal of travel writing for a living. Honest, I've moved on.... We'll see how long that lasts: Look out for next blog's gushing 2000 word description of a volcano crater.

Until then, look after yourselves. Nos hablamos pronto x



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