How I’d love to drop everything and travel the world. I’ve always wanted to, but unfortunately not all of us are lucky enough to be in a position to do it. All too often work and family commitments get in the way… If you’re in that position, as I am – chained to my desk, don’t despair. Just take a fresh look at what’s on your doorstep and figure out a new way to look at what’s closer to home.
I just so happen to live in a rather beautiful part of the world, which does somewhat compensate for the ties that keep me here. I live on Lanzarote, one of the seven Canary Islands. If you don’t know them, the Canaries are a small archipelago off the coast of North West Africa; they are part of Spain and part of Europe.
Being a small island, after five years here I thought I knew every square inch of the place, I didn’t. I discovered this after deciding to walk from North to South in 2011. Walking even the most familiar of places gives you a new perspective from the change of pace, and the different point of view you get from what you see whizzing by in a car.
I enjoyed it so much that in spring of this year I took the idea a step further and walked all seven of the islands, a distance of just over 400km… Doing it for sponsorship makes it much easier to justify the time away from my business, and through it I managed to make just over €3500 for two charities that I support.
Walking is a wonderful way to clear the mind, and it’s a great way to learn about places, and never having visited the other islands (apart from being in transit) I thought it would be a fantastic way to get to know our ‘neighbours’.
Each of the islands has their own unique beauty, and quite distinct ‘personalities’, and in walking you see so much more. You feel the atmosphere spilling out of bars at siesta time, you see the local characters, and you hear the everyday arguments from behind closed doors, and you smell the freshly baked bread. You see and feel life as you amble through small villages and towns. You don’t miss seeing the birds of prey soaring in the air currents created by the barrancos as you would if you were driving. You hear the ever present lizards rustling in the vegetation at the side of the road as they scuttle away as you pass.
You also see just how much trash is thrown from car windows by people with no respect for the environment, something which makes my blood boil. Like so many beautiful places in the world we are both blessed and cursed by tourists. Blessed because they prop up our economies, cursed by the destruction they cause.
In my eyes, you haven’t really seen a place if you have just driven through it. When walking through all the villages and towns I passed through I didn’t just see them, I got an understanding of them. You don’t ‘feel’ from a vehicle.
The point I’m trying to make is, stop dreaming about travel and just get out there. Like me not everyone has the means or circumstances that enable to just drop everything. But, there’s always a way you can find to do something a bit more adventurous, even if it’s just a weekend outdoors on your own doorstep. Leave the car at home, or put a tent up in the local woods, or….
Just try something different…
Alan’s Journey was documented as it happened on his blog.
He has since written a book about the experience called “Walking the Canary Islands…the adventures of a grumpy middle aged expat!“