The steam train glided majestically through backwater towns and stark sweeping vistas, and the latin rhythm of ‘La Colegiala’ embedded itself into my psyche.
Then, very fleetingly, she was there – cool, sophisticated and independent. Sipping her coffee and gazing out of the window, contentedly taking everything in. That image of the unknown woman on her travels never left me. She was meant to be me. Or I was supposed to be her…either way, I vividly remember that coffee commercial as one of ‘those’ moments, a point in my life where I saw my future self in a context that felt right and full of purpose.
A Wiser View
That same advert now raises some questions that wouldn’t have occurred to me as a child, questions of fair trade, sustainability and wealth disparity. The point being, we can still yearn for new horizons but with that comes great responsibility. Self-indulgence without putting at least as much back simply isn’t tenable in the long term.
Still, in those 31 seconds were sown the seeds of some of my future aspirations, such as to travel – lots. Even the music contributed to my nascent spirit of adventure, with that evocative Cumbia soundtrack conjuring images of Latin street dancing.
Since then, the romanticism of that vision has been sculpted by time and experience. But that’s not to say it has diminished. Instead, it has been enriched and embellished by a little more wisdom and knowledge, and a mindful delight in the least obvious things and most transient of moments.
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
I did make it to Latin America eventually, in 2012. Times have changed. The world is far more homogenous now, and even where there is no mains electricity or water there are mobile phones and imitation Nike trainers, but that’s OK. The differences, similarities, surprises, realisations, challenges and opportunities we have always experienced on our journeys – they all still exist, we may just find them in different formats.
The funny thing is, I don’t even drink coffee, much – I’m more of a tea person. It just goes to show, sometimes inspiration is not in the detail, it’s in the essence.
Can you remember what inspired you to want to travel? Or has the wanderlust always been there?
That image of a woman on her travels is an interesting one – I remember a friend saying she always felt like she saw people having fun usually through windows, and wondered why lives look so much better from the outside, but I think travel while it can sometimes look better glimpsed from another perspective, is often every bit as good as it looks if not better!
You’re so right 🙂 I believe it depends on whether you have a deeply-embedded spirit of adventure within you or if you just mentally sugar-coat the idea of travel so that it becomes all clean/safe/timely/comfortable etc – then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment!
My grandmother who travelled to Shanghai, alone, back in the 1920s was a great inspiration to me. I loved hearing her tails from life in China and her travels around the world. I also loved all the things she had brought back with her when she returned to England – exotic plates decorated with dragons and beautiful vases with elegant peacocks.
What I love most about the advert though is the steam train. Train travel always seems so romantic. Recently, I’ve found that anything but the case (Southern Rail grrrr) although I still adore steam trains.
Oh dear, Southern Rail doesn’t inspire much at the moment, does it? Your grandmother sounds like a remarkable woman, I’m always fascinated by solo female travellers of a bygone age. She’s quite a role model, I can see!
I love this post, you have just sold me my next holiday! And I don’t drink coffee!
Glad you get the ‘essence’ of it all too – I may see you out there in Latin America then (because I am SO going back!).