Tonight I’m cooking dal. It’s smelling quite delicious, and made entirely with ingredients I scrounged from around the house. In other words, while I did pay money for this food somewhere along the way, tonight, it’s free. I had jars of dry red lentils, some leftover organic heirloom tomato chunks in the fridge, a frozen chili pepper from my parents’ garden, spices, salt, even a fresh onion and garlic. Oh yes, and let’s not forget an expired yogurt that I deemed “good enough”. Dal is deceptively easy to make. Just sauté your onions, garlic, and chilies, stir in the tomatoes, stir in the washed lentils and “dry” cook them for a bit, and finally add water, garam masala, salt and pepper. Lentils cook quickly so you can eat in less than an hour, or cook them more slowly to let all the flavors meld together. I always like it better the second day. Stir in some plain yogurt or butter if desired. Voila! Ah, but I digress. but My point was not the exotic aroma filling the house tonight. My point was that it was one small step toward saving for a future travel adventure.
Earlier this year, my now annual pilgrimage to Burning Man put me in a harsh climate. Scorching daytime temperature plummeted over 40 degrees in a matter of hours. 24/7 noise made sleep difficult, and an insidious dust made its way into nearly every crevice of everything (and everyone!). Sleeping on the ground and limited access to showers added to a general sort of physical discomfort. Nonetheless, Burning Man is an amazing experience, and I dare say it has it’s own culture, religion even. For a semi-anarchistic environment, order still forms amidst the chaos and daily patterns and rituals begin to emerge. However the freedom to change ones mind at a moment’s notice, to wander or bicycle randomly and see what one encounters, evoke the thrill of travel. Coming back to “defaultia”, after this week of harsh conditions but total freedom, gave me the travel bug again. The way I see it, conditions don’t get much more uncomfortable than spending a week in a tent on the Playa, so almost ANY destination in the world is going to be cake compared to that. Ok, well maybe not Antartica, or places in political messes, but in terms of basic physical comforts.
The lessons learned at Burning Man that can be translated into world-traveling may seem clear, but some are worth a repeat.
- Wear comfortable shoes (my go-to shoes were Chuck Taylors with a Dr. Scholls gel insert inside)
- Clean socks are worth their weight in gold (Smartwool cushioned hiking socks rock)
- Earplugs and a sleep mask are your best friends
- Chapstick (mine is homemade out of coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax)
- Toothbrush (sometimes clean teeth are the one thing keeping you civilized)
- Something warm (ok, my something warm was furry pink with leopard spots and ears, but aside from looking like a psychedelic little pink riding hood, I was cozy)