Walking a dangerous bridge with broken sneakers and a trash bag
It was 7 a.m., dark, very cold and threatening rain, but he arrived at our bus in torn jeans, broken sneakers and a leather jacket.
I didn’t even bother to comment. There would have been no point.
We began the drive to the beginning of the Torres Del Paine National Park hike in Patagonia, Chile and the closer we got, the darker it got.
Of course when the bus dropped us at the ferry stop for the ride to our path, the clouds decided to cry and my travel buddy looked like he was about to; not an inch of his 6’2” frame was waterproof.
Me, you ask? Oh, I had rented waterproof pants, had my waterproof, warm ski jacket on and was wearing hiking shoes so I was not too worried.
But you must have had more time to prepare for your five-day hike, Robyn.
You would have thought so, but actually I had arrived in Punta Arenas (the launch pad for the hike) the night before. The difference between me and my travel buddy? I listened to the advice of the hiking enthusiasts at the rental place.
Luckily we met a Belgium couple who gave my hiking buddy a rain poncho to try and protect some of his leather jacket and backpack.
Which brings me to something I have been thinking about for a while and a conversation I had with a fellow wanderer last week: why are some of the best known travelers men, when men can’t travel?
Am I being sexist? Perhaps, but then she told me about a man she met in Laos who had his passport torn apart in India.
Why? Because he placed his passport in one of those scanner bins before going through security. One of the workers saw his passport all alone and ripped-out pages for use in a fake passport. The traveler was thrown-out of India and had to return home.
Of course he then turned around and headed back to India, but what was he thinking in the first place?
Where is your passport, sir?
Should I go on? Ok, I will.
The two of them had just arrived in Cusco, Peru for a two week holiday from Boston so sun, well, was not their friend.
Day one in the hills behind Cusco, one man became bed-bound with a sun burn. Don’t ask me, I don’t know how you go to Cusco and end-up with a sun burn that looks like its from the Caribbean, but he did.
The next day his buddy threw his body down a cliffside as we biked through the hills near Cusco. Seriously, how were these two men going to make it out alive?
Ok, I did have one mishap. I wore shorts to Machu Picchu and the bugs bit, but I was fine.
My question is: why are men the travel writers? why are men the ones featured on travel shows? Where are all the women?
Before you even try to answer these questions with: but isn’t there Elizabeth Gilbert? I will stop you. She was never traveling.
Elizabeth Gilbert was on some self-defined quest with a very scripted journey and it ended with a love story. Travel is not that.
Which makes me wonder: why is the only story from female travelers one that ends with a love story?
Where are the female, Bill Brysons? Or the Michael Palins? Why, when I turn-on the Discovery Channel, is every single show led by a man?
Why does National Geographic only have one female columnist? Why is the one show that everyone raves about right now: “An idiot abroad” and it features a man? Ok, sorry it would have to be a man.
Women can travel to!
Before I move-on, one last question I have for you is: why when I “google” women travelers all I receive are warning signs!
“BE CAREFUL” “DON’T GO” “WHATEVER YOU DO TRAVELING MAKE SURE YOU DON’T DIE!!”
Look, I am not so silly as to think women do not have to worry when they travel. Of course they do. They also have to worry when they are at home. When I walk down the street at home I am usually scanning to make sure I do not have to worry about the man in front of me and I always think before I go running by myself.
Women just have to have these natural defenses. It’s sad, but it’s true.
Now when it comes to traveling, as long as women do not let these defenses down, there really is no greater problems for women on the road than at home (unless, of course, you are planning a visit to the front lines of a war. Then, well, you might want to take added precautions).
It’s sad. It’s sad that women have two choices when it comes to representing themselves in the traveling world: through love or through fear.
Seriously, are there no women out there who travel simply for travel’s sake? Well I’m one and I know there are others. I have two who write regularly for this blog.
So where is out travel show?
Oh, perhaps, you say, it’s because men have all of these crazy mishaps that women will only have travel shows if they wear bikinis and run around beaches. I mean each sex has to play to their strong points!
Biking through Thailand
Well, I went for a three-day, motorbike trip through Northern Thailand that took us through mountains of mist and water-covered roads.
I even skidded-out on the road to the long-neck village! Isn’t that exciting? Don’t I belong on the Discovery Channel?
I wasn’t going to take a bus and having ridden a motorbike since I was 16-years-old (not counting the rides on my parents’ bikes from two-year-old) I was no slouch!
So where is my show? Where is my book?
Well Robyn you have to survive in the wilderness like Bear Grylls.
Ok I will. I did survive the wilderness. Sure, I didn’t sleep in a camel or eat some ridiculous bug, but I was ready to walk through the wilderness of Torres del Paine National Park for five days by myself.
It was coincidence that a guy in the rental place needed a partner for his trip. Then he showed-up in jeans better suited for an 80′s concert.
Sure there are women out there traveling and writing. There are women traveling for adventure.
Why are they not famous? Why are they not famous TV presenters? Why, if we can travel, keep our passports, have fun, be adventurous and wear totally appropriate clothing are we not the main presenters on the discovery travel?
And last thing: if men have so much trouble getting around the world, as I witnessed, where are all the sites warning men about travel? Don’t leave your passport alone! Don’t wear broken sneakers through Patagonia…..
Just a few tips to start.