Office Life: Is this it?

Sitting in my office this afternoon I wished I had a desk that was next to a window so that I could perform that cliché of gazing out of it longingly and wistfully, thinking about all the places around the world that I could/should/want to be right now.

I don’t know how one goes about looking wistful but I’m confident I could pull it off.

Anyway, instead I had to go over to my colleague’s window-adjacent desk and ask if I could use their seat for a minute. Frankly, it didn’t have the same effect and the moment was lost.

The reason I was particularly prone bizarre acts of wonderment today was because for the first time in a long time, the sun decided to bathe London in it’s delicious rays. It’s pretty accurate to say I love the sun and dislike almost all other forms of weather.

I actually scoffed at my massive black coat that hangs on the back of my bedroom door as I left the house this morning. No my friend, you stay there, I told it. For today, the temperatures will be in the mid 20’s. You played your part through the winter, and the spring, well most of the year actually, but now you must rest.

A girl who live on the banks of the Rio Dulce, Guatemala.

As I gazed (wistfully across the office and THEN) out the window there was only one thing in my mind: This can’t be it. This can’t be me for the next forty odd years. This can’t be what my life is to consist of for eight hours a day for 345 days of the year.

To me, that is the worst fate that can befall a person. To perform the same tasks day in and day out, to have routine and to be unable or unwilling to remove yourself from situations and people you don’t wish to be in close proximity to.

But then I thought, well, why not? This is what most people do, this is what most people want. They don’t want surprises, they are not fond of change and the more security the better. I even started feeling a little guilty for not wanting to in that office staring at that computer screen at a time when unemployment is sky high.

I began to realise that part of the reason why I’ve started this blog, labelled myself “Travel Rich” and surrounded myself with so many travel bloggers on social media like Twitter is not just because I want to read about their adventures and educate and entertain myself.

But it’s also largely because I want to associate myself with them. I envy their lifestyles and I want to be like many of them. Is the grass always greener? I think we all know the answer to that one.

I’m reminded of a clip from television sitcom “The Office” where Tim is defending his decision to remain in a job he doesn’t like rather than go back to university and a more prosperous career path:

“If you look at life like rolling a dice, then my situation now, as it stands – yeah, it may only be a three. If I jack that in now, go for something bigger and better, yeah, I could easily roll a six – no problem, I could roll a six… I could also roll a one. OK? So, I think sometimes… Just leave the dice alone.”

I’m going to leave you to ponder that thought. You know where the comments section is.

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Advice: take it or leave it?

There’s a saying that goes around: what is it everybody gives but nobody takes? The answer is advice. And while I’m not sure that’s strictly true it seems even less true when you’re on the road.

Guide books. They are FULL of advice. That’s what they’re there for – to guide. Hundreds of pages filled with advice on where to stay, where to eat, what do to, where to go, what to avoid, you name it, there’s an opinion on it.

Don’t get me wrong, I like guide books and for the most part I have used them to good effect and found them to be very informative. But I’ve always thought there are some things that are so subjective I don’t know how it’s even possible to tell someone else whether or not they will like it.

Backpackers, travellers, call them what you will, are full of advice. Whether they are giving it in person, tweeting it, blogging it or posting it on a wall, if you’re looking for it, it’s there.

When you meet someone on the road who has been somewhere you’re going, be it a city or a country, you ask them, what did you do? Where did you go? What should I look out for? What should I be careful of?

And often responses will be hearty, full and leave no stone unturned. Whether someone’s telling you why Delhi is the dirtiest place in the world and why you should never go there, or what makes a Thailand full moon party so special and why it should be top of everyone’s bucket list.

When I was in Guatemala last year, I met a whole bunch of people in a hostel on the Rio Dulce who were travelling south through central America – the exact route I had just done (except in reverse, obviously).

Semuc Champey

Somehow I found myself giving something that vaguely resembled a presentation on my trip to date. People were even taking notes. It was ridiculous.

While I was more than happy to help out my new friends, and talk about my adventures (who doesn’t?) I did find the situation a little uneasy. It was like I didn’t want to be held responsible for any disappointments.

For example, I had been told by many people about a beautiful place in Guatemala called Semuc Champey – a series of natural limestone pools. Sure, it was pretty and a nice place to hang out but I actually found it quite ‘meh’ (as the kids say).

Maybe I was expecting the eighth wonder of the world or something, I don’t know. But my point is I should have taken the advice with a pinch of salt.

One of the things I love about travel is that it IS so subjective. A hundred people can go to the same place and each can have a different opinion on it. There are so many contributing factors that influence how you feel about somwhere: who you go with, what the weather was like, if it was busy, if you were bitten by mosquitoes, if you were robbed… you see where I’m going with this.

So, MY advice would be to listen to your fellow travellers, ask them whatever you want but remember you are going wherever you are going for a reason. That is, to have the experience for yourself.