Slow Traveling: Putting Down Shallow Roots
We like to travel slowly. When we came back from Big Corn Island to Granada at Christmas we almost felt like we were coming home. True, this was our third trip back in as many months and there was that warm, fuzzy feeling of the familiar. True, it was great to return to a city we knew and nod again at familiar people on the streets. True, it was so much easier to know already which direction to go to find the shops and visit favorite restaurants than to set off on the initial exploration of a new city. And true, it was wonderful to see and talk to friends we had met previously.
Our initial plan in December was to spend Christmas in Granada and, at the beginning of the New Year, make our way through Costa Rica with a visit to the Caribbean side and head to Panama. But… we couldn’t get excited, even as we stared at the map at places that had previously stirred our imagination. We felt kind of fizzless. When we looked at bed-and-breakfast places, hostels and hotels all we could see were the hefty dollar signs attached and we lacked the enthusiasm to dig a little further for places to stay that were more reasonable. Our act of procrastination and deciding to not decide on the next step presented a third option: Why not stay a couple of months in Granada?
And so, we reached out to the expat community. During our previous visits we’d heard that there was a monthly meet and greet of expats who were establishing and reinforcing business contacts but then we learned there was also an informal gathering every Friday in front of the Grill House on Calle Calzado. A few people, foreigners who now lived in Granada, both permanently and for shorter stays, and also people passing through would get together around 5:00.
We almost missed our first meeting. A rainstorm had us waiting in the inner courtyard with no group of expats in sight When we gave up and came outside, though, there were a couple of tables pushed together and a few people sitting at them conversing. We boldly walked up to the table (we never would do this in the US) and asked, “Is this the expat get-together?”. In short order we had new acquaintances, an appointment to see an apartment, a list of places to inquire about volunteer opportunities and an invitation to lunch the next day.
That is one of the beauties of slow travel. Since there is seldom a fixed itinerary there is no reason not to extemporize on the travel agenda. We have great latitude in deciding to extend a stay in places that please us, settle a bit more into a community and explore previously undiscovered places. The only requirement of slow travel is that the roots must, of necessity, be shallow. For at some point we will pack up and be moving on again.
By Anita and Richard, January, 2014