Sunday, 6 May 2012

'Wrong Way' begins

We’re taking a bit of a step-back in time this week. Below is a reproduction of an article we put together after returning from our first bout of travelling in 2009, when we were a little less cynical compared to now. And while much has happened since it was penned, both personally and universally, you should find that the majority of what is expressed still holds true today. You could, in a sense, call it 'The Making of Wrong Way'.

“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we often might win, by fearing to attempt.”
While I can't take credit for the above quotation, the plaudits there must go to the late American Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist Jane Addams, they are words however that have a deep resonance with me.
It was just over a year ago when I plucked up the courage and finally decided to 'take flight', leaving what was my comfort zone of this island. It wasn't a decision that I took lightly, indeed I was procrastination personified before I eventually called ‘trailfinders’ and got the ball rolling so to speak. But once that was done, I purposely gave myself as little time as possible before 'R'-Day (that’s 'Rio de Janeiro' day, in case you're wondering, my first port-of-call), so there could be little room for u-turns. Three weeks in fact was the time between booking my flights and hitting off. 

An aerial shot of Rio de Janeiro
Rio from a high - not a bad town!
It was enough time nonetheless to read a very apt article in The Sunday Times Magazine which opined that the hardest part about heading off on ones 'long-term' travels - to clarify 'long-term', what I mean here is an unspecified/indefinite period of travelling, as mine was - is closing the front door of your own house and hitting for that first airport. Never truer words written, although I must admit it was my mother that closed the front door because it's not really my house, though it is home. Anyway, looking back at it now, I was a very nervous individual the morning I was escorted to Dublin airport. The fear of the unknown I suppose. 

It was a deliberate choice though to go to a continent where I don't speak the language - well not when I first arrived anyway. The destination of choice for most Irish people around my age is Australia, or at least it has been, but despite my fears about leaving Ireland on my own I was looking for somewhere slightly different for the first stage of my global 'adventure' - although I must qualify this and say that if you're looking for a place free of fellow Irish people, from my experience, your best bet is the moon or Mars because we certainly get around. Plans for 'Murphy's authentic Irish lunar pub experience' have hit a stumbling block for now, thankfully. Where's developer Sean Dunne when you need him? What, bankrupt? 

Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, the trepidation of the 'unknown'. Another part of the fear of leaving is, paradoxically, the fear of coming back – this oddity being, it appears, a particularly male phenomenon. It's that bravado thing, when you tell your mates in the pub that "I'm sick of this feckin' country of ours and I'm off, possibly never to return and ye're all stupid for staying around", while in the back of your mind you're wondering what are you doing leaving and how stupid you'll look when you return home after three weeks, if you last that long. I did temper the possibility of that happening to me by telling friends and family that I could be back in three weeks, three months or three years - I didn't put any minimum count on how long I'd be gone for. Doing so could have come back to haunt me on my return to ‘the local’. Anyway, I'm above such trivial stuff, am I not? That's why I only devoted a few lines to it, see. 
An aerial shot of Peru's Machu Picchu
Picture Perfect - Machu Picchu

That leaving fear, to move on, did just that, leaving me almost the minute I said goodbye to my sister and was left in Dublin airport to fend for myself. Although I must admit I do have a fetish for the whole airport rough-and-tumble; I've just always liked the buzz of the place for some reason. I mean even by the time I reached Heathrow to get my flight to Rio, I was already walking with a swagger, enjoying my new found freedom. 

And while I say now, after the event, that had Baghdad been the first stop I would have loved it because anywhere was going to seem better than Ireland in November in a recession, the setting and the amazing people - both locals and 'not-so' locals - that I met in Rio where I spent my first ten days set the tone for what was - with no exaggeration - a life-changing experience. We won't go into details here, but suffice to say that what was initially meant to be a ten week sojourn in South America before departing for New Zealand and Australia turned into over four months and would have been more if it hadn't kept on costing me to put back my flights. From the scantily-clad ladies on the Copacabana in Rio, the amazing Igauzu Falls and magnificent Machu Picchu to the warmth and beauty of both the people and land of Colombia and the breathtaking sights of Chile, South America has a lot going for it. I suppose the mark of a place is your willingness to return to it, and in that respect since I left 'América del Sur', I've been planning my return (it only took about 18 months to get back)

A small section of the stunning Iguazo Falls on the Argentina-Brazil border. No visit to South America is complete without seeing these natural wonders.
The Iguazu Falls - simply stunning
That's not to say that the remainder of my travels in New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia were not as noteworthy. On the contrary, all those places are amazing in their own right and I have much good to say about all of them, some more so than others naturally. However, it was South America that laid down the marker and gave me that first glimpse of the world 'out there' for an extended period of time, and for that I am entirely grateful. 

So as the Irish economy gets worse by the day, with the relatively young – well those remaining – asking the question “should I stay or should I go”, we can take comfort in the following. Even with just a few euro in the back-pocket, there are numerous countries on this planet where we can make that last much longer than it would at home - that's the benefit of being, ahem (no sniggering down the back there), a first-world country. Also, there are flights leaving this country every day to far flung places and what's more there are always ones coming back. So, if you're thinking of your next move, my advice, for what it is worth, is to go and discover the world and in the process yourself. As for everything in this life, don't let the doubts hold you to ransom. Don't fear to attempt.  


  1. You've gone from quoting cocaine snorting Manchester brothers to a noble prize winner this time around. Any chance of an article explaining that journey?

  2. Those are just the ways of 'Wrong Way' I suppose. And perhaps Oasis and Jane Addams have more in common than we might think?!

  3. It was nerving for your sister leaving you at the airport too, not knowing would she see you again!

  4. Should that not be you were nervous to make sure you'd get me there on time so that I'd definitely leave the country..?!