Have you ever experienced that thing where you’re sitting around with other travellers, and everyone starts telling their crazy travel stories?
That’s our life right now. We’re lucky to have a tonne of old and new friends in Oaxaca, all people who have travelled extensively or have been permanently nomadic for years. In other words, people with a lot of travel stories. And we’ve been meeting up for dinners and drinks, telling each other hilarious, life-changing, adventurous, and sometimes supremely stupid stories.
And I’ve been thinking about how powerful they are.
I love hearing others’ travel stories, and I’ve made travel decisions based on those stories more than once.
About 15 years ago, I was in Mexico City with two of my best friends, Mary and Gina, and we met an American woman who, at the time (we were 20 or so), seemed old and wise. She was probably younger then than I am now, but she may as well have been a wise oracle for all she knew of the world.
She had travelled through South America, and told us about crossing Lake Titicaca from Peru to Bolivia. Her story seemed absolutely nuts…the gist being that the bus she was travelling on was essentially dragged across a section of the lake via a raft. Unfortunately, the buses don’t always make it, and the bottom of that section of the lake is littered with sunken vehicles. Her suggestion: when crossing Lake Titicaca, insist on your belongings staying with you, rather than leaving them on the quite-possibly-will-sink bus.
Years later, in early 2010, Geoff and I were at Lake Titicaca. We were travelling from Puno, in Peru, to La Paz, in Bolivia, and sure enough, we watched our minibus get ferried across a section of Lake Titicaca on a barge, while we sat with our bags in a small motorboat piloted by what looked like an 8-year-old, who had to stick his finger in the engine to make it go. Seriously…I can’t make this stuff up.
That woman’s story, told in a hostel in Mexico City in 2001, stayed with me all those years, and added to my curiosity about this mysterious place called Titicaca, and I knew I had to go there.
And that’s far from the only time a travel story influenced my decision-making. Earlier on that same South America trip, in Lima, Peru, I did something completely out of character for me: I went paragliding. I’m actually quite afraid of heights, and sheer drops in particular, so running straight off the cliffs of Lima’s Miraflores, and then soaring so high up I could see my reflection in the tops of mirrored skyscrapers, was definitely out of my comfort zone.
Why did I do it? A few months earlier, I saw on Facebook that one of my professors from grad school was in Peru, and she did it. She’s one of those effusively positive, high energy, and inspiring people, and she made it look awesome. I saw her pictures when we were planning a trip through South America, and I instantly knew I had to do it, too, fear of heights be dammed.
And so I jumped off that cliff, and later that night I consoled myself with pisco sours.
I’ve been thinking a lot about stories lately because, well, I’m trying to slowly tell ours. There’s the stories we had before we met. The story of how we met, which I’ve only sort of told. The story of our travels together to almost 50 countries, and the crazy stories within — getting kicked off a bus because of a Moldovan smuggler, being temporarily paralyzed in Bolivia, getting shot with fireworks in Taiwan, becoming resident in a Tibetan hospital…those all actually happened, by the way.
Those are the stories I want to tell, because I enjoy storytelling, and because I want to give you — the reader — a reason to come back here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to see what we’re up to.
Then there’s the story of our brand. That word honestly makes me throw up in my own mouth a little, but I’m working on it.
Who is this site for, and who is our book — and soon to be books, and then beyond that other products — for?
I’m still trying to figure that out, which I realize is completely opposite to how we should be doing it.
I got an email from a journalist for a massive publication over the weekend, asking questions about our book, why we decided to go the self-publishing route, how many copies we’d sold, etc. Who knows if anything will come of it, but we’re trying to do more and more of these things, and they often stretch us as we try to respond with a cohesive and honest story that resonates with people.
In this instance, I basically told her straight-up how disorganized we were. Most people, when they launch a book, have a launch plan. We did no such thing, and we’re really just figuring it all out as we go along.
Would I love to have resources to get more done? For sure. If a smarty-pants business person from publishing or a big lifestyle brand got in touch with us today, and offered to come on board, we’d do a happy dance and seriously consider it.
But all that said, we’re happy with the progress we’ve made. Big time. Our book is actually selling to people we don’t know. People we don’t know read this website and email us…all the time! It’s nothing short of awesome, even if we do feel like chickens with our heads cut off most days.
If you want to help me out, send me an email and introduce yourself. I’d love to know who you are, and why you’re here!!! Seriously: [email protected]