A ‘Blog Hop’ for travel bloggers! I’m delighted and honoured that James, at Plus Ultra, invited me to participate. What I enjoy so much about James’ blog is the captivating narrative that makes me feel as if I’m there with him on his adventures. Thank you James for nominating me.
What am I working on/writing?
Currently I’m working on stories and photographs from Fiji. It was our next stop after Samoa and I’m looking forward to sharing our experiences there, from the beach to an orchid garden to a glimpse of life in an indigenous village. I’m also working on the first posts about Australia, which was our next (and current) destination, bit by bit choosing and editing photographs.
How does my work and writing differ from others of its genre?
Nearly three and a half years ago Don and I sold our home and car, and sold or gave away virtually all our possessions to become intentionally homeless nomads wandering the world. We jumped off a cliff. Someone has suggested to us that we are pilgrims rather than nomads since our journey is as much a spiritual one as a physical one.
Don is now 72 and I am 64. At this stage in life what we have done is not unique, but it is rare, and there is a commitment to sharing our story, both inner and outer. This is the ongoing theme behind the blog, and our This Nomadic Life series largely tells the tale of the inner journey. In telling our story we made a commitment to be self-revealing, so our blog in this respect is a story of personal growth and development. I consider our blog to be a travel blog, and yet it is frequently the posts about the inner journey that get the most attention.
The travel posts are a chronological telling of the outer journey and reflect our focus on discovering the culture and the people of the places we visit. I am constantly fascinated by the different ways in which people do life, by human ingenuity, and by human connection. We are also deeply drawn to the wilderness and the natural world so we seek out places to hike away from humanity into the wild. And finally we also like to see the great tourist destinations of the world. They are popular for a reason. Who would want to miss such iconic places as the Eifel Tower, or the Sistine Chapel, or all of Venice, or Machu Picchu just because there are a lot of other people there too?
We seek as rich and full an experience as we can wherever we go. This also includes spiritual ceremonies in all faiths. I have attended, and been included in an Animist/Shamanic all-day ceremony in Northern Vietnam, and together we have sat many times in Buddhist temples, been invited to live in a Buddhist Monastery in Chiang Mai, Thailand, attended several ceremonies in Hindu temples, participated in the ceremony and ritual at an annual pilgrimage at the Mother Temple in Bali, attended a ceremony for the Sufi saint Nizamuddin at his holy shrine in Delhi, and most recently joined in a four-hour non-denominational Christian service in Samoa. These rituals, ceremonies and services give us as authentic a taste as a traveler can get of the beliefs and heart of the community. As much as possible we try to participate rather than just observe.
I deliberately always focus on the positive. I can’t save the world. And honestly I’m not convinced it needs saving. What I can do is focus on, believe in, and share all that is good. You can find bad news anywhere and all it does is add negative energy to the world. My passion is to increase the focus on the positive. You couldn’t prove it by the news, but for the most part people are good!
Having said all that, apart from our backstory, and our spiritual perspective of life, I’m not sure I can claim that my writing differs much from that of many other travel bloggers. We are all deeply interested in experiencing the places we visit, and just as deeply interested in authentically sharing that experience.
Why do I write what I do?
I feel compelled to share our story, and the stories of the places we discover as we travel the world. At the beginning of the journey I made a deep unshakable commitment to the blog. Now it feels as if the commitment arose within me of its own accord and there is no denying the ongoing force of it. The blog is on my mind, front and centre, or simmering away at the back, all the time. It never leaves me, nor I it. It’s not always easy, and learning how to carry it lightly and not as a burden or a ‘should’ is an ongoing journey. There is always the next post to be written. The process of writing, photographing, and chronicling our journey and then sharing it, is something that fills me with love. It’s that simple really. Love and commitment. It’s a powerful potion.
How does my writing process work?
I start with photographs, pulling out and editing the best. From the photos I get a sense of how to break down the stories of our experiences into blog posts. For instance I never would have thought ahead of time that I would write three posts about Samoa, or two about Hawaii, or four about the Guelaguetza Festival in Mexico. It was the photographs that told me. In this way the photographs dictate to some extent the content of each post. I write in my head and forget to write it down. Sometimes I make notes as we go, sometimes not. I always save brochures hoping that when I come to write about a place they will give me some ideas. I do some online research – always after the fact – and get more ideas. Sometimes Don makes notes. And for days, sometimes for weeks, I’ll have a voice softly relentlessly calling – you need to write that post, you need to get started on that post. I mostly ignore it. As best I can. Because I have learned that you cannot push the river. The river flows as it flows, and suddenly it will be time, really time, to write the post, and then the words will flow like the river.
Other travel bloggers say they don’t write while they are travelling, but of course I must since we’re always travelling. The most time we’ve spent in one place in nearly three and a half years was the recent six months in Vancouver. Given our current plans it will be at least another year before we are, maybe, in one place for that long again.
I am deeply indebted to, and grateful to Don for his ongoing support and his keen editing skills. I am deeply indebted to, and grateful to my fellow bloggers for helping me to become a better writer just by reading your blogs. I am deeply indebted to, and grateful to my sisters Julie and Suzanne, both professional photographers, for teaching me how to be a better photographer, and for teaching me how to use photo-editing software that makes me look like an even better photographer. And finally I am deeply indebted to, and grateful to everyone who reads, and comments. Your comments help to keep the blog alive! Thank you!
With a bright breezy style, Jo is a specialist on Poland, Portugal, and of course England, which is home when she’s not travelling. She’ll take you walking in the most interesting places.
Setting out with only 6500 pounds Lana is working her way around the world – on a farm in Thailand, helping with the rice harvest in Thailand, handing out leaflets in Laos, and other misadventures.
Photo of the day: Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia. A tiny lake. An ordinary white duck, preening in the afternoon sunlight.
All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.