Traveling helps widen your horizon. You get to see different cultures, different ways of life, and a variety of people who you would never meet back home. You learn new things, come back with great stories, and feel like you have done something different.
A few years back, I had the privilege of traveling to a less “advanced” country. I thought that this would be beneficial where I would get the chance to reconnect to myself away from the noise that is technology. It was a great opportunity to see the basic roads and the simple way people were living. It was refreshing to be feel like I was walking back in time and I am more than glad to share with you my experience.
This is the story of the donkey, the cake, and the flat bread.
The flat bread. One day in my trip, I decided that I wanted some more flatbread because the amount served in breakfast wasn’t enough for everyone. I learned previously that when you are on vacation and want something, go and get it because this is an opportunity that may or may not present itself to you again in your future. I gathered my courage and practiced the few words in the foreign language to help me get my message across and walked to the flat bread “oven”. There was a long line of customers waiting and I could smell the sweet aroma tickle my nose. I knew that this was the best decision I made that day and even though this was going to take a while (given the rate the cue was moving), I would finally get my sweet flatbread. Customers got their orders and I was getting close to the window and when I finally reached, I saw it. The oven was blazing hot, the baker was sweating, and there was a bathtub in the back filled with dough. Yes, it was a bathtub. It wasn’t covered with anything to keep insects away and apparently this didn’t bother anyone. You see, I was a very sheltered person and this bothered me immensely but I was too polite to cancel my order. I reluctantly took my bread and the image of the white run down bah tub still stuck in my memory. It was horrific at that time but now, I just laugh. This was a practical solution for the baker and so he used it.
The cake. Back home, I was used to having some coffee and cake as a snack so it was surprising when the group of tourists were going to a garden/coffee shop. The weather was fine and there was no way my night would be ruined. We arrived at the cafe and sat down for a break, I was looking forward to my cake so I got up and reached the barista. There was a pile of what looked like mega cupcakes without any toppings except one almond flake so I assumed it was an almond cupcake. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but who can go wrong with sugar and flour? I pointed at the cake while maintaining eye contact and put up one finger to show that I wanted 1 piece. He nodded his head, moved the cling film from the cupcakes, took one cupcake out, and placed it in my hand. No plate, no fork, no knife, no nothing. I was dumbfounded as I received the piece of dessert but, again, I am pretty shy and sheltered so I chose to take it without so much as a complaint. I mean, who am I to question the culture, right?
Moving right along.
The donkey. Keeping an open mind gets you places you never dreamed of. I’m sure that’s what my sister was thinking that day when we decided, on the same trip, to take the only means of transportation to the magnificent waterfall. You see, to get to the waterfall, you are either expected to walk upstream with cold water trickling on your feet or use donkeys with their respective “drivers”- children who can’t be older than 14 who are in charge of navigating. We were escorted on the backs of the mules with no saddles required and requested, in a foreign language, to stay put. My sister was younger so she was sharing one donkey with a friend. We trusted our lives to the young drivers who, at one point, started chatting about who-knows-what. I kept my eye on my sister and her friend fretting that the donkey can’t handle their weight but, the poor animal, was strong.
He was strong but not very smart.
In seconds, we passengers all had out eyes fixated on my sister’s donkey. It started wobbling in the thin path and the driver left it and was chatting with his friend.
“Do you think it knows where it’s going?” someone said
“Yes, I’m sure it takes this path a few times a day. I heard it memorizes paths,” I replied, not knowing where I got that piece of information
“Seems like the donkey’s a bit bonkers.” She replied in a worried voice.
And suddenly, the donkey slipped. Down came the girl sharing the donkey, and on top of her my poor sister, and right on top, the donkey toppled over. She swore to me that she was face to face with the mule. She was looking into its eyes and felt its weight on top of her. My poor sister couldn’t have been more than 13 years old at that time.
And to this day, she remembers the donkey’s face so clearly. It’s so sad it’s hilarious. Things you can only experience when you have an open mind. Humor is out there, go get it.