Wanderlust is Deb Tawna’s second favorite form of lust

The thing I enjoy most of all in the world is travel.

Riding a camel into the Sahara Desert at sunset.

OK, that’s a lie. Travel is a close second to something else I love more, but this is a family-friendly blog and nookie doesn’t happen to be this week’s Debutante Ball topic.

I’ve been profoundly lucky to travel the world over the past decade of hoarding frequent flyer miles, having jobs with generous time off, and not having kids. I’ve visited Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Hawaii, Jamaica, Barbados, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Morocco, Gibraltar, and probably a few places I’m forgetting but surely enjoyed anyway.

I tend to fall more into the “grungy backpacker” crowd than the “luxury travel” set, though I’ll willingly take the luxury if I can get a good deal.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my years of travel is that the things I think will be most memorable seldom turn out to be. Almost always, it’s the funny little unexpected oddities that make the best travel memories.

Take the month I spent trekking around the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. I saw ancient ruins and gorgeous beaches, lovely old churches and quaint little villages.

But the thing I remember most is the trip I took on a third-class bus headed to a tiny town called Valladolid.

I’m mostly fluent in Spanish, which made me privy to the details of conversations between the bus driver and his buddy riding along serving no discernable purpose in the operation of the vehicle.

Bus driver: We should pick up Juan.

Buddy: You remember where he lives?

Bus driver: No, but if we drive around awhile, we’ll find him.

So we drove around for awhile looking for Juan. We made a few pit stops along the way to buy comic books and fruit, which the men took turns enjoying when they weren’t busy ignoring traffic signals and terrifying livestock with horn-blasts.

Cuddling a Koala in Australia.

Eventually, we found Juan and headed out of town. We had just hit the highway when the bus driver smacked himself on the forehead.

Bus driver: I forgot my shirt.

Juan: You’re wearing a shirt.

Bus driver: No, my uniform shirt. I got in trouble for that last week. I’ve gotta go home and get it.

So we spun a u-turn in the middle of the highway – narrowly missing a large truck packed with chickens – and headed back to town. All 35 passengers aboard were treated to a lovely tour of the barrio, complete with a colorful lecture from the bus driver’s wife who shared her immense displeasure at his failure to return home the previous night.

Eventually, we set out again on a journey that lasted nearly four hours and included a rousing game of “let’s hit pedestrians with fruit pits while traveling 50 mph in a vehicle held together by duct tape.” When the bus driver emerged victorious, he celebrated by taking a nap on the floor while his buddy took over driving duties.

Eventually, we made it to Valladolid. The bus driver was kind enough to weave his way through the narrow city streets in search of a hotel I pointed out in the guidebook. As the busload of weary passengers waved at us from the grime-streaked windows, I’ll admit I was a little sad to see the journey end.

It’s stories like that I tend to remember more fondly than the monuments and museums I pack into any vacation like a dutiful traveler.

What kind of traveler are you? What’s your fondest travel memory? Do you tend to catalogue the big things, or the funny little unexpected quirks? Please share!

And if you’ve got some extra frequent flyer miles lying around, can you share those as well? I promise to put them to good use.

10 Replies to “Wanderlust is Deb Tawna’s second favorite form of lust”

  1. What a great story, Tawna! It really is those weird little unexpected things that make trips memorable for sure. Husband and I are cruisers, and we always manage to have a great time, no matter what weird stuff happens to us. Our last cruise was particularly memorable when, on my 40th birthday, I tripped on an uneven curb in Dominica and made a bloody mess out of both of my legs. Husband had a lot of fun on the way back to the ship when he kept talking (loudly enough to be overheard, of course) about how he was surprised how much damage such a small shark could do. Har har. Good news is that the ship’s doctor patched me up and I was good to go for formal night, because there was no way I was missing my lobster dinner on my birthday!

  2. Wow, those are amazing photos. I rode in one of those buses during a trip to Cancun and was quite grateful to get BACK to the hotel. Did you keep the koala? He looks pretty happy!

  3. I love your travel stories, Tawna! And that koala pic is the cutest thing ever. 🙂

    Hubs and I spent six months over in Europe (BC — Before Children), back-packing around for a good deal of it. Too many adventures to go into here, but accidentally hooking up with suspected gun-runners in Ireland was pretty exciting. And they seemed so nice at the time…

  4. I am a mix of luxury and grungy. If it’s a great experience, I’ll happily backpack/hostel/hike my way around, but I’ll typically finish things off with a five-star resort at the end. There’s nothing like not showering for a week and then climbing into a really deep, whirlpool tub. Aaaah.

  5. Many years ago I spent six weeks in Buenos Aires. It’s a beautiful, intriguing city but what I remember best is traveling about twenty miles out of town — out on the range — and seeing clusters of corrugated cardboard shacks all of which had TV antennas attached to their “roofs!” Wonder if they have cable now? 😉

  6. When we were 17, my best friend and I somehow convinced our parents to let us spend our savings on a 6-week trip to Greece by ourselves (our school had something called senior project for 2 months) and we had, as you can imagine, lots of adventures (most of which we didn’t tell our parents until a few years ago).

    One memory that always sticks out was getting picked up by an elderly gentleman on a barren, coastal road in the Peloponnese and after a few minutes in his car, he pulled over, made sure the road was empty,climbed out and said he’d be right back, then went to his trunk. We were so certain he meant to unload some kind of kidnapping device, that my friend pulled out her pocket knife. When he returned with a bag of oranges, he took one look at the knife, smiled gleefully and said: “Wonderful! Just what we need to cut up the oranges!”

  7. For me, it’s all about color. And smell. Even the not so pleasant smells make a place more memorable. The ocean smells different every single place I’ve been, and no sky looks the same, either.

    Just finished your novel, BTW, and it was GREAT! Read it with abandon, taking it everywhere with me, laughing out loud the whole time. What a joy to read!

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