10 days is all I’ve been traveling and yet I feel like I have been settled here for months. I feel quite at home here and often find myself speaking as if I’ve returned to Trinity after a long journey elsewhere.
Perhaps it is the people or the places or the sea.
I’ve been making an effort to seek out the locals and listen to their stories. A few days ago, Lina and I ran into a man named John while he was working in his garden. We stopped to chat over a white picket fence. Not 15 minutes later, he had us walking across the harbour to the home of a German woman named Katharina. She invited us in for red wine and homemade chocolates from Aunt Sarah’s Chocolate Shop in Trinity. An hour later, 3 more locals joined us.
As I was sitting in one of my favorite cafes yesterday, The Mercantile, a local voice greeted me by name.
Tomorrow I’m meeting with Henry Vokey, one of the last traditional boat builders in Newfoundland. He is known as the man of 1,000 boats and has built them all by hand and with wood. Now, well into his 80s, he continues to work on his next schooner.
On Saturday, I’m hiking 17k with 8 Newfoundlanders.
So many invitations and opportunities!
It feels good to put down a few roots for the time being and settle into the culture and customs of this island.
Many heed single travellers, like me, that travelling can get pretty lonely. For the most part, I tend to agree, however, I’m finding this particular journey to be quite different. I feel like I have many homes to wander into and a great harvest of new family members that keep cropping up before me.
In just 10 days, I’ve already glimpsed what it means to go about this journey as a traveller instead of a tourist. Tourists tend to know exactly what they are looking for even before they leave home or arrive at their destination. The agenda is planned, the hotels are booked, and a knowable, containable experience is bottled up before them.
A traveller, on the other hand, goes into a place freely, with an open mind and low expectations. She turns a listening ear to the locals and follows a pointing finger across the bay to a gray house with 2 rectangular windows. She is invited in for wine and shares stories with strangers that feel more like old friends. She sits before a 90 foot schooner and marvels at the handiwork of one arthritic, yet astounding, man.
For a traveller, time is not measured by the tick-tock of a clock on a wall or by days that pass on a calendar. It is not measured by the length of a flight or the cost of an excursion.
Time is when we wander out to pick fresh, wild blueberries and return to make jam. It is in shared cups of coffee and in stories before a wood fire. It is measured in the traversing of trails through woodland ponds and in steep, dramatic slopes into the sea. It is measured by the hands I shake and the eyes I meet and it is measured by my deep and increasing gratitude for every last bit of it.
As a traveller, there’s not much I can plan. The weather, the waves, the world and the way it works–they all have a say in how I go about my day. There’s been a lot of spontaneity, like this trip we took to Keels and Bonavista the other day. I’m learning to welcome it all.
“The traveller sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” — G.K. Chesterton