In three weeks we’ll be leaving A Coruna, our home for the last four months. It’s a strange sense of grief, this wrapping up and leaving. On one hand, it was always temporary — something we’ve gotten used to over six years of full-time travel. On the other hand, we’ve gained a lot by staying put for a while.
A place of our own
Since 2006 we’ve either been living with other people — both friends and strangers — or been travelling quite quickly, changing cities every week or so. We’ve been back to our home of Auckland, New Zealand for about 18 months over three trips: flatting, house-sitting, crashing with parents or friends for a couple of nights on arrival or before departure.
This has been the first time we’ve had our own place since 2006. And it feels kind of strange.
It’s strange to have a ‘home’. Our little yellow two-bedroom flat, located above the landlords. A washing line overhanging someone else’s patio is accessed through a bedroom window. A couple of butane canisters sit on a rusty frame outside the kitchen. A wall or two of post-it notes from project planning and editing. Our dark bedroom without a window which is accessed from the lounge.
Thanks to this, we’ve been able to host friends for the first time in forever. Finally: a spare bedroom and a constant flow of friends, acquaintances, and even Indie Travel Podcast listeners. We’ve always crashed with friends and family as we’ve travelled: it saves money, and multiplies memories. Things are just more fun when you’re with people. For the last few years we’ve been big fans of Couchsurfing, staying with people we’ve never met; and normally those memories are just as good. It has been excellent to be on the hosting end of the arrangement.
Why pausing is perfect
If we’re in a place for more than a few days, we fall into a rhythm that’s distinct in each place. There’s a time to explore, a time to work, a time to play. We’ll have a coffee here, then head in this direction. Dinner now, and bed then.
In four months, we’ve hit ‘pause’ on rapid travel and adapted ourselves much more to the pace of the city. Weekends mean something. Our walk has slowed. Dinner before 9pm is unthinkable, dinner at 11pm is ‘a little late’. There’s a downtime in the afternoon: we normally go for a walk and clear our heads while the city slumbers. At times it’s so quiet this post-prandial stroll is like walking through the opening scenes of a zombie movie. Luckily, we’ve never needed to find a chainsaw.
This ongoing cycle of days, weeks, and — yes — even months has let us see patterns and feel rhythms that have been missing from our travels.
Instead of resident hosts, or a group of good people we meet in a hostel common room, we’ve got friends. People who text, who want to meet up, to go on a trip, or head to a gig. We meet for tapas and talk about our weeks, world events, and now the Olympics. We talk about the books we’re reading or the games we’re playing. It’s a far cry from the hostel conversations that focus on where you’ve been and where you’re going. A conversation that, if you’re not careful, can devolve into a “I’m travelling further/better/cheaper/other than you” competition.
As someone that makes friends over years instead of over a drink or two, it’s been nice to have the time to start developing some.
But it is just a pause
I think this time in A Coruna has been wonderful. In all of the places we’ve stopped — Malta, Mui Ne, Perth, Hastings, Adelaide, St Albans — this has been the best fit for us. Pohutakawa trees help, and beaches do too; but it’s been more than that. We’ve clicked with the place and with the people.
However, it is only a pause. I still can’t imagine stopping this life of travel. There’s too much to see, too many new stories to find, foods to eat and people to meet. Too many wine regions to taste in, and tiny towns to pass through.
The road is calling. It’s time to move on. Where next for us? We’ll be spilling the beans next week.