Little moments have collected and rolled into themselves making them almost hard to remember…months have past without any real evidences of time moving forward. I’ve been moving though; and I have scars and stories to show for it.
With my contact of one year finally ending, and I do stress that finally ending I flew with much hesitation back to the home land. Although I cried and didn’t welcome leaving my students, it wasn’t till I felt the freedom of being able to travel again that I was truly happy.
Being back in Canada was without knowing it long overdue, and although I went back for reasons I didn’t anticipate I’m thankful I did go back. The culture shock did kick my ‘well traveled’ ass back to the humble place I belong. My eyes grew wider to see how much I never seem to realize about my own native culture… had it simply been there the whole time and I had not even noticed? Walking in the grocery store after just arriving threw me back into a facial expression that could probably be described as ‘there is something definitely wrong in this situation, Toby, figure it out fast’ and with my dad looking back to find me standing in one of the aisles looking like I was; he asked me if everything was ok. Which of course it was not, but why couldn’t I figure out what was so wrong. Taking a few more cautious steps I realized humouressly that culture shock had indeed found me; standing oh so alone and the lack of people pushing, bumping and yes sometimes even the small children peeing behind the groceries has left me in a strange and now uncomfortable place; Till I saw the black cherries. And that’s how my culture shock treated me.
Those scars I mentioned earlier were not just a cliché way to say I’ve been through a lot. I had work to do when I arrived in Canada, and that was to find out what was ‘wrong’ with me in regards to my on going health issues. I use the word ‘wrong’ because it is so negative, feels to me as though I’m going to say next that I hate my body. Truth is, at that point in my life I did. For close to the entire duration of my time in China I had been in and out of the hospitals. Which, let me please tell you, is another experience I am questionably thankful for. So, my work consisted of me getting to the bottom of what’s been going on… and the western medical system was very welcomed. (And looking back to the Toby that used to be afraid to enter the doctors’ office in Canada before she left for China, really does thank herself for those Chinese hospital experiences) So, in Canada after pushing for a surgery and then thinking it was bad idea, I mean… who actually wants surgery? I found out that I have Endometriosis. Stage one. They (mass media, doctors… I’m not sure who) call Endo a disease which made me feel embarrassed and that it was my fault for picking it up somewhere. After my own research and time to recovery from everything I can say now I’m getting comfortable with the idea of having something like this…a life condition. Sometimes scars help you heal more, don’t you think? Kinda shook out a little truth and motivation for me to keep doing what it is I want to do. And what is it that I desperately want to do?
Ever heard of slow travel? The kind of travel that isn’t swallowed alive by moving so quickly with planes, trains, with one or two weeks here and then another two weeks there; Only leaving you with your thousand plus photos you snapped from the bus; but with no real souvenir of the culture you were just in. It’s not that kind of travel. In fact, for me it’s just the opposite. Instead it’s the curious kind of wanting to know the place you’re in, the details, the essentials; to remember instead the smell of some dish that’s popular or the exchange between people making a sale. Those small unimportant things are what I’m interested in. So, my means of travel will be mainly by my feet. For me currently there’s no need to hurry, which is good because I’m not even a fast walker. I plan on taking my time, stopping, attempting at talking and mostly observing. Some people believe that your eyes are the windows to your soul, and if that’s true then my soul will be able to see things that I feel is needed for me to see; and my feet will be the ones taking me there.
I leave in one week.
I’m going to visit a friend before I actually start, so I’m taking a train to the south part of China to a city called ShenZhen. After a few days there, my best friend who has joined me in China four months ago and I will take another and probably one of the last trains for awhile to a city called Yangshuo; A smaller and less touristy place than that of Guilin, in the province of Guangxi. From Yangshuo we’ll head north to Kaili in Guizhou and then back south into the province of Yunnan; that is the general outline of the trek.
We bought our tent and a little compacted stove the other day along with some other essential equipment. I’m feeling ready to get my ass kicked again, but this time not just by culture shock but the shear fact I have not done anything close to this before. I think with everything at the end of the day that this trek will be worth so many words that I will fail at delivering. But I will try…. stay tuned.
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