Call it Travel Fatigue, if you will. You know you have it when you reach a point when you get tired, really tired, of travelling. Everything becomes "yet another ..." whatever-it-is; it's your 40th hostel, your 17th Mayan ruin, your 22nd hiking trail. Everything starts to lose its luster and "new" no longer automatically equals "exciting". In Europe, backpackers call this YAP-YAM-YAC syndrome: yet another palace, yet another museum, yet another church ...
I realized today I've hit that point. I knew I was there when I had to work hard to convince myself that it was worth the effort to go to Valparaiso for the day, when I couldn`t be bothered figuring out any winery day trips from Santiago, when I started getting irritated by slow-moving people on the sidewalk or waiting in line to buy metro tickets, when I shrugged while walking past the national art museum and thought, "Oh, it`s just a few more paintings, I`ve seen plenty already this trip." When the thought of having to buy yet another bus ticket, or book yet another hostel, onwards from Santiago, just seemed like more effort than it was worth.
Travel Fatigue, definitely. I`m not excited today about the prospect of two more months of travel, or about my trips to come in the second half of the year. I`m not even that jazzed about Easter Island, I`m just tired. I don`t want to figure out where to stay anymore, buy any more bus tickets, have any more superficial conversations with people I might know for 24 hours and then say good-bye to, yet again.
One of the best things about travel is all the people you meet, but one of the worst things about travel is all the people you say good-bye to. And you know, despite Facebook and best intentions on everyone's part, most people you say good-bye too you won`t encounter again. Your life is filled with 24-hour friends, who can make that brief period lots of fun, but .... then you start over again somewhere else. You find some places you really like, but the road beckons onward to other, different places and you catch yet another bus.
I`m so tired of that right now. I just want to stop for a while. Or wake up in my own neighbourhood, where I know where everything is, I can go out without a map and without having to carry all my valuables strapped to my body ...and where the bartenders at my "local" know my name and what kind of wine I like to drink. Where I could order in from my favourite pizza place, and not have yet another night of rice, beans and vegetables for dinner.
Oh, this isn't an incurable disease. I'll get over it, one way or another. It just probably means I need to stop for a little bit, and just hang out somewhere, without a tourist agenda. Don't worry about rushing around to see the sights, or figuring out the plans for moving on to the next place ... just chill. Easter Island might do it.
But if not ... somewhere else. I'm thinking maybe Puno in Peru, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. I'd love to avoid having to travel through La Paz, Bolivia (it scares me, just a little, from the stories I`ve heard), so I might fly over it instead, to Cuzco, and backtrack a little bit to hang out on the lake. Or sooner, in Cafayate, Argentina ... chill and sip some fine local torrentes while I recharge my batteries.
I remember this happening to Julie and me in Europe, about a month into the trip. We were moving a lot faster than I am on this trip, since we had a long list of things we wanted to cram in. When we started getting very snappish with each other and easily frustrated by the littlest things, it was time to stop for a while. Which we did, very happily, on the French Riviera at Cap d'Ail ... a few days of nothing more strenuous than lying on the beach (and a little side jaunt to the casino in Monte Carlo) and we were good to go again. It hit me later this trip, but probably because my pace has been less frantic.
So I know I'll be fine, again, and I'll get excited about travelling again. Just give me a little breather, first.