Friday, June 29, 2012

Problems that money can't solve.

     There will always be problems that come up while traveling, and there are several ways of dealing with them.  Some people choose to buy their way out with money, while other more adventurous souls might wing it and try to solve the problem without monetary assistance.  The latter is, in my opinion, the correct choice.  Problems that you refuse to, or that can't be solved with money almost always create great new experiences. 
     While hopping around Europe last fall my friend and I had the opportunity to piggyback on a newly acquainted French friend's vacation to Rome.  Upon our arrival in Italy we promptly became lost and made it to the villa well after sundown where we relaxed and winded down with a few beers.  At around 11:00, we were surprised to hear a knock at the front door.  It was the villa's owner.  We hadn't been loud or rowdy at all, so it didn't worry us so much as it struck us as odd.  Why would she come down to speak with us at such a late hour?  She spoke little English and we little Italian, but after a few minutes of broken speech and poor grammar it was clear that two of us would have to leave.  The villa was rented for five... my friend and I were six... and seven... and so began the worst and best time of our European vacation.
     We were faced with the loss of the roof over our heads, and no prospects of another to come.  The housing development that we were in was accessible only by major highway, eliminating the possibility of walking to a hostel or hotel; public transportation stopped running at 10:00, eliminating that option; and we were too far from any major metropolitan areas to get a taxi at such a late hour as well.  We would have to walk... somewhere.
     An empty field about a half mile away on the edge of the housing plan would be our bedroom for the night.  We found a hole in the treeline that made a small plant lined cave, set our sleeping bags out, covered the entrance with a poncho I had in my bag, and drifted off to sleep... BEEP! Only a few hours later we were jarred from our sleep by a car, nearly on top of us, and honking.  This was followed by a several minutes of unintelligible Italian yelling from the car's occupant.  We had apparently chosen someone's parking spot as our bed.  We would spend the next night in the field's tall grass instead.
     In my last post I talked about packing light to allow yourself to be more flexible and more immersed in your adventures and discussed a little about how leaving things behind can lead to better experiences along the way, but as you may have guessed, leaving things behind can also be detrimental in some situations... and I LOVE those situations.  Getting yourself in some trouble makes any adventure more noteworthy, and as we found out before, the 'bad' times make for the best stories to tell about later.  Packing and traveling light is the best way to get these stories.  That's not to say you should be reckless; always have what you need to travel safely in whatever environment you happen to be in; but depriving yourself of a few comforts will not only lighten your luggage, but also lead to problems you'll have to solve along the way which in turn lead to good stories to tell later in life.  The story above wasn't caused by lack of equipment, but rather lack of preparation, but the outcome was the same: a problem that money couldn't solve and a good story to tell.

That's about it for now. 
Here are some photos of nature winning.

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