“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tzu
Two years ago, my wife Sue and I made a trip to the island of Carriacou in the chain of islands known as the Grenadines, in the south-eastern part of the West Indies. We began the trip by driving into Toronto, an hour from our home, and checked into an airport hotel the night before our flight. We did not stay at the hotel because our morning departure was particularly early, we just wanted to start our trip in a leisurely fashion. We had a nice breakfast at the hotel before we headed to the airport…no rush. On our fight to Grenada, where we’d be catching a ferry to Carriacou, there was a six-hour layover in Barbados. We were excited about the prospect of seeing a bit of the Barbados because of all the great things we’d heard about the island from good friends. Luckily one of those friends and his wife were there on a month’s vacation and offered to pick us up and give us a brief tour. They whisked us away taking us straight to the beautiful Crane Hotel on the eastern, windward side of the island in St. Philip parish. It was a blustery day as we lunched overlooking steep cliffs and the beach below where waves were crashing upon the sand. Storm clouds lingered in the distance over the ocean as we dined and sipped our wine. After lunch they gave us a whirlwind tour of the island, visiting some of the “hot” spots, before dropping us off at the airport.
We felt exhilarated from our Barbados “orientation” as we boarded the next airplane. After a fifty-minute island-hopper, viewing small islands from the air, we landed in Grenada. We were originally scheduled to spend one night on the island but instead booked two nights there so we could do some exploring before catching the ferry to Carriacou. Our guesthouse was on Grenada’s famous Grand Anse beach. We settled in and had a drink with our host Jenny, a former Miss World! She gave us bits of advice about “must sees” and the best restaurants. That night we dined in the main harbour at a place known for seafood, and good value, called BB’s Crabback Caribbean Restaurant. It didn’t disappoint. Sue had Barracuda with a lobster tomato cream sauce. I opted for an island speciality known as “Oil Down” –which was a combination of salted meat, coconut milk, plantain, local spices, pumpkin, potatoes and bread fruit – a fascinating combination of flavours and texture.
The next day we headed into the capital city, St. George’s, and explored the historical sites including a walking tour of the forts up on the hill overlooking the harbour. We couldn’t resist the main food market where we found many spice stalls…Grenada has more spices per square mile than any other place on earth! The smell at the market was intoxicating. We ended up in a “Rasta” bar where we made instant friends over a few beers. Pleasantly exhausted from trekking everywhere, we turned in early after a light meal.
The next day we boarded the Osprey Line’s ferry, affectionately known as the “vomit comet”, to the island of Carriacou (one of the three islands that make up the country of Grenada). We took some anti-nausea pills just to be safe on the two-hour voyage. I fell asleep despite the rough seas but luckily woke up in time to see the flying fish and our approach to Hillsborough, the main town in Carriacou. My cousin Val and her husband had rented a home on the ocean where we settled in for a month. We arrived rested and continued our leisurely pace. The weeks were spent exploring the hills and beaches, reading, writing, meeting the locals, and overall, getting into the island’s culture. We soon got used to “Grenada mean time” as people described the unhurried pace of life… relax, things will happen in their own time. Soon we had shed the last vestiges of our more frantic city lifestyle.
My description of our voyage to the Grenadines illustrates my philosophy of travel, reflected in that old cliché: “It’s all about the journey, not the destination”. This lesson however also speaks volumes about how people should try to organize their life. Focus on how you get somewhere, not just on the where. Following this “journey” emphasis, one of our primary goals should be to choose or organize our work, as much as possible, in a way that it aligns with our interests. If you’re really lucky your work will morph into one of your passions. Like getting to a destination, your work will become part of living well. No longer are you just working “9 to 5” so you can earn money to do things on your own time.
Frank Lloyd Wright once said that “A professional does his/her best work when they least feel like working”. He’s telling us that our most fruitful work is done when it doesn’t feel like working. It is in those times that creativity flows and work-time sails past. Find and follow your bliss, as much as you can, as Joseph Campbell wisely prescribed. Even better, try to live a life described below by August Rene Chateaubriand:
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labour and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves other to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself he always appears to be doing both”.
Let’s give the last word to Robert Louis Stevenson: “I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” Some of us have a desire to keep moving to see ever more…it boils down to an insatiable curiousity.