There’s a part of me that would like it if everyone at home thought that we lived our lives on the edge. If they thought that every moment of our journey was filled with suspense and excitement as we travel the globe…Globetrotters …that’s what we are! We live for excitement and our days are filled with it!… But no one can live like that. The Law of Diminishing Returns says that the more excitement I get the less exciting excitement will be. Excitement becomes annoying after several days of it in a row.
So what is it really like for our family when we travel? Since John and I both work remotely and Lydian still goes to school online while we’re gone, our time abroad is a lot like our time at home. We work for four long days or five normal days (8 hours or so) each week (roughly). We spend our working hours at home sitting at a table or on a couch with our computers open. We make dinner at home. We go out on the weekends and do something “fun”. Sometimes we’ll all take a class several times a week in the city where we’re living if there’s something like a yoga studio or a language school nearby.
I do the laundry, clean the bathrooms and the kitchen. I manage our bills and finances. It’s pretty
boring actually; at least most of the time unless there’s an earthquake, one of us contracts a deadly disease, we get robbed or some other completely bizarre thing happens which has only been the case a few times. I bring along things like a portable travel-bucket just in case there’s no laundry machine, which always makes things infinitely more interesting for us.
And there’s a caveat to “boring” that I need to mention as well. It was “boring” to cook food every day in Nepal, for example, but it was also really draining and not remotely relaxing. Every thing had to be made from scratch. Since we don’t eat a lot of the things that everyone else does, (like wheat, dairy, and sugar), we had to cook every meal from raw fruits and vegetables that had been thoroughly soaked and washed. We ate either vegetables and rice or sometimes rice and vegetables every day with mangos for dessert. Cooking was boring. Eating was boring. A lack of comfort foods is debilitating the way that wearing a blind-fold would be if you wore one all the time. Cooking every thing from it’s rawest form is time consuming on a grand scale.
I get bored with my clothing options when we travel. Having only three shirts and a couple of pairs of pants to wear erodes into a person’s self-image. Lydian really struggles with this part of traveling. She goes through all five stages of grief over leaving her full wardrobe behind. Here in Tunisia, the only mirror in our vacation rental is about 1’ x 2’ and it’s hung at eye level. We haven’t seen the reflection of our bodies from the neck down since we left in early November six weeks ago.
Kitchens and laundry rooms in other countries outside of Europe tend to be a source of daily
distress too. They often highlight the lack of women’s rights and after a week or two preparing food and doing laundry in a non-ergonomic, inconsiderately-designed space, we start to feel angry in small doses. John does most of the cooking when we travel and he usually goes off the edge first.
“Why the hell is there a fan over the stove that dumps the air right back into the kitchen?” He’ll ask me after he knocks his head into the fan cover for the umpteenth time.
Kitchens in foreign countries always tend to be miniaturized for tiny, failure-to-thrive women. “Isn’t it neat how this window opens right into the sink so you can’t have it open while you’re washing the dishes?” He’ll say sarcastically. The cynical remarks evolve into biting, caustic thoughts about the people-in-general. “What kind of an idiot would design a kitchen sink with a thumbsized drain?”
Stuff like that.
Here in Tunisia, for example, I use a washing machine that looks like a grown-up model of a Barbie Doll toy. And, as it turns out, it’s about as durable as a toy. Today, the centrifuge broke which means that I have to lay our soaking wet laundry out to dry on the radiators throughout the day. I thank God that the heaters in this rental aren’t the type that would set our clothes on fire. The details of every day life in Tunisia and other countries are a major part of our travels, but they’re boring and non-literary to say the least. Usually, and I hope readers can forgive me for this, when sit down to write about the exciting stuff, I’d rather just forget about the clothes steaming vigorously on the radiators.