How have you been sleeping?
Us? Not so good.
There’ve been plenty of nights ruined by weird quarantine dreams, until last night.
As with everyone else, we’ve had a lot on our minds lately.
One of the most liberating and challenging parts of being a digital nomad is that you answer only to yourself.
You’re the boss. Success or failure depends solely on you.
Problems like broken equipment, illness or global pandemics are just that – problems to be solved. Adapt or go home.
What’s keeping us awake at night?
1) Working in the travel sector kinda sucks right now:
- Very little traffic to the site is hurting
- Not much demand for freelance travel writers
- Collaborations and sponsored work have all but dried up
So we’re trying to pivot, adapt and evolve while staying true to our values.
Lots of big travel bloggers are talking about branching out into non-travel related fields – check out this excellent article from Will Hatton at The Broke Backpacker.
2) Moving house during quarantine sucks too. Trying to sell housey things while maintaining a sterile environment is tough… I wouldn’t recommend it.
3) Norwegian Air cancelling our long-haul flight to Airmiles, but then giving mixed messages about whether they’ll fly in October 2020 (as shown on Skyscanner) or not until April 2021 (as per their press release).
4) The lunatic in charge of Brazil perpetuating the situation here, with the state of calamity expected to run until at least December.
5) The lunatics outside on the streets of Rio listening to their lunatic President, ignoring skyrocketing numbers as they continue to party long into the night.
That’s a little slice of the madness attempting to invade my dreams.
Why did I sleep so well last night?
To balance out the time spent writing, studying and strategising I decided to take the 10 Day Ukulele Fingerpicking Challenge from Uke Like The Pros.
I’ve played the Uke for a good few years but, as with all my musical endeavours, I’m guilty of laziness. I study to a certain level, plateaux, then relax in mediocrity.
Not this time!
10 days to learn, record and post 5 tunes on our Instagram account.
It started slow then gradually increased in difficulty. The real magic, however, came at song 5.
Can’t help fallin’ in love, immortalised by Elvis Presley on the 1961 album Blue Hawaii.
Okay… challenge accepted.
Oh no! Not just playing… no, no, no. Playing and singing!
(To see the final recording scroll down to the bottom of the page).
It was obviously floating around my brain throughout the night as it crept into my dreams. I’m glad it did.
Tell me about the dream!
For a few hours I was transported back to The Aquidaban – the unforgettable market boat that sails up the Paraguay River.
Thankfully I took my ukulele on that trip. We travelled extremely light, but I knew I needed my uke.
BEST IDEA EVER!
Aside from the other opportunities to play, there was another passenger on the boat with a uke!
(FYI This all happened in real life, not just in the dream)
The local Paraguayan boat travellers were genuinely intrigued with the instruments and we had so much fun passing them around. Having two meant we could give lessons, harmonise and generally rock out.
(If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of visiting Paraguay, do it! Read why Paraguay is so awesome here.)
One special moment leaps out, on the second evening. On the bow of the boat, lay on a wooden palette staring up to the sky, beer flowing through my system. Pitch-black save for the dazzling starlight, I played and sang ‘Falling in love with you’.
I thought I was alone due to the extreme silence, my audience the innumerable stars above.
I was offering the lyrics to the gods, hoping they’d be carried a thousand miles to my girlfriend in Rio de Janeiro.
When I finished, proud I’d played it flawlessly, I was greeted by a wave of gentle claps. Several locals, nestled in the shadows, showed their appreciation. I won’t lie… my heart almost popped with love.
It was this memory I dreamt about. As clear as day, down to the breeze on my cheeks, I was back there.
What do I take from it?
A travel tip for any traveller, if possible, would be to learn and carry an instrument.
Music is a universal language.
I could only speak a handful of words in Guarani, yet we were able to communicate for hours through music. Laughing, learning, sharing knowledge.
We were 6000 miles from the UK, yet they were asking for all the classic Britpop hits, The Beatles, Dire Straits… even the Eurythmics (that one took a while to communicate!)
In return they taught us more phrases in Guarani, shared the history of the boat and their daily lives and passed around pictures of family and friends, beaming with pride.
Travel slowly. Make connections. Share your culture and your skills. Be open and receptive to learn theirs.
That kind of experience, however fleeting, will stay with you a lifetime. It’ll help during difficult times too.
I’ve no idea what they took away from our encounter. I won’t presume to attribute feelings, but I know we all laughed our asses off those nights.
There are so many honest, genuine, loving, caring, curious, special people in the world.
That’s why I’m eager to get back out travelling again. Not for the landmarks, the attractions or ticking off more countries. For the people. For the unforgettable nights. For the simple experiences which leave both parties richer and more enlightened.
So we wait.
Until then, be safe, be well and keep sharing the love.
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