Leg 3, Day 43 – A different travel perspective

Natalia Cohen By

Day 43 – A different travel perspective

Travel is the essence of who I am and has always been a huge passion in my life.

It allows you to explore different cultures, landscapes, experiences and I think, teaches you more about the world and yourself than you will learn anywhere else. Following on from a previous blog of mine, such a big part of the travel experience is the journey, and whether it’s the buses, planes, trains or boats, getting from place to place gives you a certain perspective.

Most of these forms of transport give you a great insight into the part of the world that you are moving across but the insight into where you are travelling is peripheral. It’s an outsiders fleeting view into places and lives as you travel through, to and over villages, cities, jungles, deserts and oceans. The environment passes by without a chance to develop a real relationship.

The Pacific ocean is, to almost everyone on this planet, just a concept. A really big tract of water on the other side of the world (for some). When we sit on the shore of any sea, with our eyes seeing nothing but water into the distance, we don’t really have a deep understanding of its scale.

It’s just really really big.

I think that only by self-powered travel across surfaces of land and indeed sea, can a more accurate, intrinsic understanding of the scale be appreciated. It’s the relationship that you develop with the land/seascape that makes the difference and it’s this relationship that allows you to have a deeper connection with the place you are travelling through.

” A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step “,
Or
“Our journey of over 8,000 miles begins with a single stroke”.

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The Camino de Santiago or The Way, as it is commonly referred to, is a long walk/pilgrimage across northern Spain. There are actually a number of different routes that spread throughout the whole of Europe but the journey that I took 3 years ago was called the Camino Frances. It begins in France and ends in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The trail is just under 1000km and you can take as long or as quick as you want to complete it. It took me 30 days.
It’s an accessible adventure on your doorstep if you are based in the UK and allows you to truly connect with your surroundings.

I thought I would share some interesting similarities and differences between the The Way and The Row.

*Same*

1. Travel by foot or by oar power is slow. Really slow.
There is plenty of time to drink in your surroundings. To tell your story and listen to other people’s. There is also great opportunity to reflect. You get to see and experience the small things and can observe life in great detail in the environment that you are passing through. Whether through another person or through nature, there are always lessons to learn about yourself, others and your surroundings. This type of travel allows the time and facility to do that.

2. Taking it step by step or taking it stroke by stroke
Again we are easily brought back to the moment as that is the best place to be. It’s all about making what you are trying to achieve manageable and not allowing it to become overwhelming. Take things day by day – mile by mile.
Override the physical challenges that arise by drawing on positive mental strength and always come back to the now.

3. The only constant is change
With the risk of sounding like a broken record…it’s true! We are constantly reminded of the law of nature…that everything changes . The view, climate, sky, sea state, landscape, your own feelings…they do not remain the same.

*Different*

1. Following a set path or trail
With the Way there are either yellow arrows, small plaques with a conch shell on it or signs with a man that is hiking with a walking stick, that you follow and that show you the direction to take. It is a set path that everyone follows.
The Row is a little different. Although we have had destinations to hit, the path we have taken through water is unique in that there is no set path in something fluid. It meanders, it flows, it changes and the path we have taken has been taken by no one else ever because of the sheer ever changing nature of the ocean.

2. Communication
Depending on the time of the year, there can be many or few people walking the Way. There are different personalities of all ages and nationalities and from all walks of life. You can choose to walk alone or chat with everyone that crosses your path. One of the highlights of the journey is definitely all the amazing and varied people you meet.
The Row is an intense period of time with the same people. There is no choice whether we want to spend time with them or not, it is a prerequisite. We still have an opportunity to meet different people in each of our stopovers, however, but the main journey is the insight into ourselves and our team mates. The only other interaction that happens is when we make friends with the wildlife and talk to them!

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Next time you go somewhere slowly and self powered, make time to form a relationship with where you are and what’s around you. Drink in the colours, sounds, sights and smells. Enjoy the tactility and observe it all. Gain a new and more personal perspective of how and why you travel and immerse yourself fully. It’s the best way to explore! x

UPDATE:
We’ve passed the 1000 mile mark …only 990 miles to go – woohhhoooo!!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a striped cane of candy
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two boats a passing
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three sharks a circling
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four Christmas hats
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five Tupperwares
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six boobies flying
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven fish a bellyflopping
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight waves a crashing
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine carols a singing
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten dolphins jumping (just putting it out to the universe – haven’t actually seen any)

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9 Comments

  1. Bernice says:

    Your blog discussion and detail of thought leaves me in total admiration for you , and your depth of insight into what life is, opens my eyes to our every day routines and little details so easily overlooked. Godspeed and safe journey onwards for your final 990 !

  2. JG` says:

    As you said travel is the great educator. The gap year is the essential space between school and higher education and in itself is an invaluable mind stretcher and changes many people’s lives. Sadly the world is becoming a less safe place for young travellers and some earlier destinations are off limits now for safe travel. Clearly there are many people who, for diverse reasons, have never travelled outside their country. Some travel and live in a hotel never venturing outside into the local life and that ,to my mind, is not travel in its true sense. You’re right about the journey. I used to drive my travelling companions mad because I was forever stopping to look at something and the most absorbing place was the Kalahari Desert – always something to stop and study from the bushmen to the tiny ant lions in their conical traps.

    Major burst of speed you guys – brilliant

    Take care keep safe.

    • JG says:

      Christmas cracker joke:
      There is a report that a juggernaut full of onions has just shed it’s load all over the M1.
      Motorists are advised to find a hard shoulder to cry on. (Ronnie Corbett)

  3. Jim Andrews says:

    Great progress ladies, great blog Natalia. I used to take part in Volks Marches when serving with the Army in Germany, I used to love the opportunity to meet different people on each outing, see some of the most stunning countryside and wild life. We used to do 40 Km on selected Sundays and it always ended up in a big tent with a large beer and an “Oompa” band. Happy days. Not quite the epic journeys you get involved with but OK for me.
    Christmas Cracker joke number one.
    What does Wikileaks have with their Turkey at Christmas Dinner?
    A= anonymous sauce. Stay safe. XX

  4. Less than 1000 nautical miles!! Go ladies!!!! That’s amazing 🙂
    Great blog. Too many people are so desperate to get to their destination they don’t take any notice of the world they pass through, or they just shout at it in anger and frustration. Have loved experiencing your journey through your blogs. I know it has made me reflect more on my own experiences, and I’m sure it will have made others think as well.
    2 days until Christmas…..keep an eye out for Father Christmas flying overhead 😉 xx

  5. Peter says:

    I’m forever immersing myself in my surroundings, I must learn to stay upright in my marathon kayak.

  6. Robert says:

    According to OSCAR you are still in 205° @ 0.4 kn @ 18.20° S, 162.26° E but your speed went up because you turned more West. About 20nm & you’ll be out of that current and into a current travelling SW. If you decide to row to Bundaberg (Australian Olympic rowing training centre, you’ll be mega heroes!) instead of Cairns (No reef to worry about) that current will help, but there are a few more currents to be negotiated on the way. (Ginger Beer, Rum for the alcoholics on board)

    • Robert says:

      Only 675nm to Bundaberg & the Marina at the river mouth is a breeze to enter. Call the Bundaberg rowing club & get them down there to meet you. I’m sure they’d all love to have a go at rowing an ocean rowing boat! Lot’s of PR both ways!

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