There’s a specific process that I go through each time I travel. As soon as I land in a new place my senses are sharp as I take in the unfamiliar surroundings and try to grasp the unacquainted customs.
The first thing I do is walk. I walk constantly, sometimes all day, looking and learning, trying to orient myself. I notice faces and gestures, I register landmarks and neighborhoods, I catalog shops and eateries, I study the local conveyances and set my bearings.
The newness amazes and confounds me: simple things like transport, streets, prices, meals, the protocols of daily interactions and small exchanges – these usually occupy a huge space in my mind for the first few days. I am acutely aware of everything. It’s an overwhelmingly stimulating period and a tiring one. My mind is constantly gauging and processing. I drain easily.
And sleep doesn’t always come easily those first days. The sounds and smells, the altitude or humidity, the jet lag or the change in seasons – these all contribute to restless nights and a fatigue that accompanies my waking hours.Continue reading “Landing”