Our theme this month, “Capture the Moment”, brought a lot of memories for me. We all have great moments in our lives that we truly remember and I found that traveling is what makes some of those moments so memorable and precious for me. So I asked myself: What, so far, were my best moments of Summer? What memories of my holidays do I remember and cherish most?
Over the years we’ve experienced a lot. According to Tripadvisor, myself and my husband have so far seen about 13% of this beautiful World. As you can imagine we took thousands of photos and our personal galleries are full of happy faces of children in Cuba, beautiful landscapes of Malaysian tea plantations and the lively Jemaa el-Fnaa – a square and a market place in the heart of Marrakesh. And we continue to travel the world having learnt so many valuable lessons, some of which we managed to capture on film.
We learnt a lot and some of these lessons I would like to share with you now:
These are the best lessons we have learnt while traveling and the best moments captured by the eye of camera:
How to say “No” – if this is something you have to practice, there is no better place than Morocco and one of the market places (souks) close to the Marrakesh’s main square Jemaa el-Fnaa.
We have been to Morroco three times now and we know our way around quite well. However our first visit to Marrakesh was particularly memorable. We know several people who went there once and refuse to go again. 🙂 Some reviews on Tripadvisor reflect this very well – prepare to be overwhelmed! You can purchase leather goods, silver, pottery, clothing etc. in fact almost anything you can think of. The square is an entertainment area with Moroccan dancing groups, traders, performing monkeys, a “dentist” showing his collection of teeth, snake charmers etc.
They are all very impressive, but it is by no means free entertainment. If you go there unprepared (as we did), you may quickly find that you no longer have a wallet full of dirhams and instead you have henna tattoos on both arms, you have drunk way too much freshly squeezed orange juice, you have a silver (or not!) ring on each finger and that you’ve bought half a lamb and got a pair of Moroccan slippers absolutely free. If there is a place in this World where a firm “No” must mean “No”, it is Jemaa el-Fnaa. Not sure if you’d be able for it? Go and try! Apart from everything else it’s a great fun.
In Morocco I also learnt that you can fit 7 grown men into one Mercedes taxi. I didn’t know that!
Enjoy the simplicity of life – the best place to appreciate the simplest life pleasures, to stop and enjoy the lively environment, music, dance and great company is Cuba. People in Cuba are poor, buildings in Havana old and run-down, everyone is involved is some entrepreneurial activities to support family income.
Yet Cubans are overall one of the happiest nations in the World. They seem to live with this rhythm that’s lively and dynamic.
It’s in the air and it’s everywhere. Cubans have music and dance in their blood. As the sun is shining practically all the time they spend the majority of their days and evenings outside playing, meeting friends, dancing and singing. Their quality of life is based on the simple joys of living. And it’s best just to go there and immerse yourself in this environment. It’s a one of a kind experience and it’s a great privilege to be accepted (being an outsider), listen to the stories told by the locals and feel this rhythm even just for a while.
There are places in this world where there is unimaginable peace – Yes, you still can find them. One of those places for us was by the river Kinabatangan in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. We stayed in one of the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodges and we were there alone. The family who owns and runs the place looked after us very well and the guide who accompanied us during the trip ensured we had the most enjoyable stay. In places like that an expression “being close to nature” suddenly becomes much more meaningful. It’s an incredible opportunity to listen and look around. If you don’t, the wildlife will pass you by. The countless rare and beautiful birds, frogs and the constant sounds of cicadas. There will be orangutans outside your room, wild cats or even elephants if you’re lucky. You are on their ground, not the other way round. Rainfall was plentiful during our stay. It’s a whole different experience when in the middle of the night you are absolutely convinced that the roof of your wooden cabin is going to fall on your head any minute! And the ants in our luggage! Oh well, that’s nature for you. It’s never quiet in the rainforest but it’s a different kind of noise. It’s pleasant; it’s calming and natural, for me even intimidating. I understand well that I am the intruder, just a visitor and in order for me to be accepted I must stay humble, pay attention and follow the rules. The rules of nature.
You can and must trust in order to experience the best quality of life – this is something I learnt when we travelled to India. Every trip is different and before we go anywhere we research. Internet and modern technology are blessings for any traveller.
Countless reviews and opinions of others allow us to prepare for each trip really well. We enjoy a level of unexpectedness because we travel independently but there must be a plan and a path we’ll follow so that we have some sense of control. The element of trust that is so important when traveling, became apparent to me when we landed in Kochi – a city on the west coast of India. We were traveling further from there and we knew that there would be someone waiting for us at the airport. Someone indeed. We simply didn’t know. The local Indian tour operator we contacted while still in Dublin had some really great reviews online. We trusted the reviews, we trusted the operator and we trusted the man who was standing outside the airport with a piece of paper in his hand with my husband’s name on it. The thought “Is it safe to get in the car with him?” never crossed my mind. You can’t allow it in if you want to enjoy traveling the world. He looked after us, we travelled almost 500 km together, he showed us beautiful places and told us stories we wouldn’t have heard otherwise.
It is vital to maintain a level of care and awareness to ensure your own safety but we learnt to let go when there were no indications that we might be unsafe. That’s the only way. When you travel, you learn to feel comfort as you are (whether you like it or not) at the mercy of strangers. Because in a couple of hours they are no longer strangers and that’s why it’s SO WORTH IT to trust!
These are my best lessons and some of my best captured moments. Writing this post “Capture the Lessons – Holiday Highlights” brought back so many memories. What are your best memories? What are your best captured moments?
Someone might say that our 13% of the World travelled, sounds like a lot. For us it’s just the beginning. There is so much more to see and so much more to learn about different cultures, our own adaptability and interactions with other people. There are so many places to see, people to meet and so many of own abilities and skills to test. And even though we might never go back to the places we have been already, we were there, we captured the moments and we have the best memories forever. Sri Lanka we are coming!
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