Inspiration, Love

The Art of Asking while Traveling

August 23, 2015
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Recently inspired by Amanda Palmer’s amazing Ted Talk titled The Art of Asking, Camille and I started realizing how important it is to shamelessly ask and receive fearlessly. Reflecting on many instances during our trip that we’ve ASKed for and have received led to this awe-inspired list. Most of the questions ASKed stem from a desire to help, to collaborate, to love. The act of ASKing is an act of collaboration and shouldn’t be viewed as an act of begging though most of the time it is. In our ASKing we preserve rather the deplete our energy, we allow ourselves to have allies and create a team to move forward in this world. You don’t have to move through this world alone. It takes courage to believe that your requests and petitions will be received and reciprocated with love.

But what is love if it isn’t vulnerable.

We usually don’t choose this vulnerability because the stakes are too high so we run to safety. But what if we took a leap of faith and took the risk of being loved in the form of receiving, simply by ASKing?

While the list below illustrates our daily needs being fulfilled through ASKing it’s not anything that’s likely mind-boggling but one that provides practical reasons to ask. In each yes, we learn to receive and allow ourselves to be loved. We are truly and immensely loved and that love (hopefully) radiates in our words, in our hearts, and with those people who have decided to surround us.

1. Rides and hitchhiking- Growing up in America hitch-hiking wasn’t something I ever did. It seems to be highly discouraged there. Apparently part of this was because hippies were hitchhiking to different protests and events against the government and the war during the 1960s.

After getting robbed in transit in Africa we still decided to move with compassion and forgiveness with those who hustled us. If not how could we have continued this journey the way we did. There was vulnerability involved and how could we let one (though very shitty) incident stop us from see the goodness in this world.

One day in Costa Rica while waiting for the bus we decided to stick a thumb up and see what would come from it. That day we discovered the art of hitch-hiking. We have heard of countless stories of backpackers’ hitchhiking through the North, Central and South America, Europe, and other places around the world. Oh and all with amazing success and no murders.

2. Food- We’ve ASKed about food so often in supermarkets, fresh markets, and local food stands. We ASK about the local cuisine- the specialites, the traditional dishes, the techniques of cooking, etc. By the act of ASKing we’ve tried so many different types of fruit, sweets, and other local delicacies. We get explanations that should be on the Food Network and tried to work them out hoping to not get lost in translation. The expressions we get based on our reactions to overly sour or difficult to swallow food is priceless!

The aftermath, hundreds of beautifully wrapped tamales

3. Pictures- Tourists want pictures. Gotta ASK. Travelers want conversations, friendships and lasting impressions (and their photo taken). ASK if you can help, ASK them how their day is, ASK them how business is going, ASK them about their thoughts and ideas, ASK them something other than “Can I take your picture?” It makes getting a picture easier and makes friendship and love the end goal with picture taking only the tiniest fraction of the conversation. Make that picture worth a thousand words by ASKing.

4. Housing- When we decided to rent a house in Boquete, Panama we ASKed around the local neighborhood. It’s so important to speak the local language. Places in the area we were around cost $150-200 (local prices/places, going to door-to-door) but they were all full. We ran into a couple real estate offices knowing the would be mainly for gringo immigrants (expats). We were quoted a room for $550 and ASKed if they could go any lower. We got it for $400. Great deal until a couple days later we walked up 500 meters to Eco-Jardin El Explorador and found out they had a large casita and an extra room they long/short-term renting out for a better deal. Oh well this led to our friendship with Abuela(grandma).

the inspiration to this blog

5. Friendship- During our conversation with Abuela (our grandma neighbor in Panama) we told her we were looking for a home to do some work on our blog. A place of inspiration, tranquility, and some good birding. Her garden was exactly this. She invited us to stay and work on our blog and practice our Spanish. In our first week together we roasted coffee, made sand art, and cleaned her teapots. She invited us out on a food run 45 minutes out of town to try and find a panaderia (bakery) to buy panecito (little bread). During this time we have offered to help her get her place up on Airbnb, helped her around the house, sat and had lunch during an earthquake and really gotten to know each other.

If you want to make someone your real friend, ask them for a favor.

6. Discounts- We always ask for a discount on Airbnb and have never had to pay for the full advertised prices. We always ask for better prices on tours. Shamelessly we ask because we want this “trip,” this journey to come freely. We never wanted money to be an excuse for living our lives the way we truly wanted to. In many instances the art of ASKing has helped us live without that excuse.

7. Language- Our favorite language to learn was Swahili. We stayed at Pweza Beach Bungalows and had swims, meals, and beers on the beachfront property in Zanzibar, Tanzania. In between all the beaching we would practice phrases from various guides books and get taught by native Swahili speakers (love to Pweza).The best approach to language learning is to ask for any of the people around you to be your teacher. They’ll likely abide to your request especially if it’s over a beer.

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8. Children- As “former” teachers, Camille and I have hearts for the children of this world. We we’re situated with socio-economically “rich” students while I was working at an international school in China. On our trip we had been invited into a school to do educational technology lesson and to spend a weekend at a children’s home in Tanzania. We simply ASKed around where we could help out and got brought to Rosmin’s Children Home. The experience of washing, pooing, eating, worshiping, and  literally living in this African home for the weekend was beyond our comfort zone. We gained more insight into the lives of the children including some of their stories and felt we had nothing to give them except to ultimately receive the love and hospitality they shared. We grew a lot on the last weekend of our African journey.

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9. First class upgrades- This hasn’t happened for us yet but we ask each time! I suppose it doesn’t help that we usually travel hack and don’t actually pay for our tickets. Has anyone actually gotten a free first class upgrade?

10. Love- This post and this blog would have never been successful if I didn’t ask Camille out on our first date and if I didn’t ask her to marry me. There are so many instances of insecurity and fear throughout this journey. All we ASKed for and yearned for was LOVE. So many people live in misery because of their loneliness. In seeking refugee from this, one must muster up the courage to ask and pursue.

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Those who ask have faith in our capacity for love and in our desire to share with one another. 

11. An Audience- We originally started this blog as a way to share our experiences with friends and family. We grew in love throughout and even more than the 365traveldates and have asked tons of you for help. We asked for an audience because we felt like we had all this love to share. You all responded and helped created what this blog is -Travel in Love, Love in Travel! If you ever felt like you don’t have a voice, start writing, someone will read it if not ASK us to!

For most of human history, musicians and artists have been part of the village, accessing one another freely. They’ve been healers, listeners, mind-openers – in touch with the community, not untouchable stars on screens and behind barricades. I grew up belieinvg that the distance of “real” stardom was glamorous. But in truth, feeling love from a distance is just lonely. Maybe even worse than no love at all, because it feels so unnatural. Nobody wants to be looked at. Everybody wants to be seen.

 
The backpacking community is amazing. It’s a group of strangers turned drinking buddies, turned best friends, turned lovers and families by the simple initiation of ASKing any basic question. This can be held at home and it doesn’t need to be on the road. Go out on a limb and be vulnerable, fully aware that in any of these instances there is a possibility of ‘no’ but there’s also the possibility of an awesome ‘YES’!
I think I asked… because I trust you enough to let you help me. I mean it. I love you.

Thank you Amanda  Palmer you are now part of our inspiration and honeymoon!

Your turn- What have you shamelessly asked for and graciously received while traveling? Yes YOU, we’re ASKing you to share the love. We always appreciate the conversation we have with people.

*Quotes from Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking

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