Notes on the Ghetto & Chanelling My Inner Hippie

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It’s time for the next installment of BootsnAll‘s 30 Days of Indie Travel challenge!

Prompt 5: KINDNESS – One of the greatest joys of travel can be the random acts of kindness you’ll receive from total strangers. Have you ever found kindness from strangers in unexpected places?

Absolutely. Sometimes I laugh at myself for being scared of strangers. They are usually as confused, if not more confused than me when traveling. When someone holds open a door me, gives me advice on how to hail a cab, or straight up rescues me from the dark mountains where I’ve been inexplicably lost for the last 9 hours, I feel grateful and astounded that people care so much. These are the things that remind me to pay that kindness forward.

Prompt 6: FEAR – Just as travel can be fun and exciting, it can also have its challenging, or even downright scary, moments. Being in a new place pushes us out of our comfort zone and makes us face our fears. Tell about a time you had to face your fear when traveling, and what was the result.

One of my first days driving around Philadelphia, like most newbies, I accidentally crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge over the Delaware River into New Jersey. What’s on the other side? Only Camden, a city known for its crime rate and “urban dysfunctions,”  to put it lightly. I was lost in the straight up ghetto and scared shitless. I had no GPS, no map or directions and no balls to get out and ask someone for help. I called a friend back in Philly for help and he gave me the best advice: “Drive toward where you feel  like the water is.” Oddly enough, it worked.

Prompt 7: CELEBRATE – Joining in a local festival, holiday or special event is a great way to learn more about a local culture. Share the story of a celebration that meant something to you on your travels.

While in Montreal this past Labor Day, I went to a day-long drum circle called the Tam-Tams, a special event that takes place every Sunday in the summer. It’s held in Mount Royal Park on the east side of the mountain near the George-Etienne Cartier Monument. Drummers, dancers, hippies, freaks, families, artists, stoners, students and grandmas come to hear the beat of the drums, smoke marijuana and dance the day away. It was one of the most fun days of my life.

The crazy crowd celebrating Tam Tams

Prompt 8: LOVE LEARNING – Travel and learning go hand in hand. Travel teaches us not only about the world and the people in it, but also more about ourselves and our own ideas and values. What has travel taught you this year?

Traveling this year has taught me to be flexible. I have had to make last minute alternate arrangements, but in the end I’ve found that it’s always worth it. When I missed my bus to Boston to catch a connection to Vermont, I was forced to drive to Vermont from Philly instead. What I discovered was beautiful upstate New York, Lake George and the Adirondacks. I’ve also learned to be confident and honest. When people ask me why I moved here, I no longer beat around the bush for an answer. Now it’s: “Because I wanted to try something different!”

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