Sunday, 11 October 2015 16:40

The benefits of travelling and smiling

Airports - always good to 'get away for a bit' Airports - always good to 'get away for a bit'

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page,” says one proverb. No matter how much you travel and no matter how short a trip, with the right mindset any trip will have some of those much-cited ‘horizon-expanding qualities’.

I personally always end up comparing — not necessarily objectively but enthusiastically — invariably appreciating certain things away and others upon my return to Cyprus. And yes, there are always things that will challenge us in new countries and just like ‘back home’ I’ve found that it always helps to smile.

I have just returned from a trip to Ukraine — the safe, peaceful part of it — and probably slightly affected by the fact that I have wonderful memories of living in Russian-speaking countries and absolutely love the language and all things ex-Soviet, I had a fantastic time. Challenging, requiring a lot of persistent smiling at times, but fantastic nonetheless. So there I was, observing, comparing, quite often feeling rather confused.

When leaving from Larnaca airport, I had forgotten to empty my water bottle before going through the security check – I find the rule a bit annoying, but generally have no qualms about refilling my water bottle in the toilet in any ‘developed country’ rather than sitting on the plane anxiously awaiting the stewardess to come by with some water. However, leaving Cyprus, my full water bottle stayed in my backpack and I caught myself thinking ‘Typical, no rules are ever respected here.’ Funny enough I was checked for explosives a bit later on — I not only smiled, I laughed.

On the way back, the rebel in me wanted to see if I can get away with a full water bottle once more: no such luck it seemed, my bottle was removed. So I asked the not-exactly-cheerful gentleman with the sweetest of smiles if he could possibly empty the bottle behind the door near him marked toilet. He looked at me, opened my backpack, stuck the bottle back in and said in a commanding tone ‘Nasdarovje’ – to your health. Same rule not followed, but in a different way.

Another thing that broadened my almost habitual smile was when, during a road trip, we stopped at a gas station to get some travel provisions – bottles, cans, bags of crisps… and the gentleman at the checkout took my money and then just stood there. I smiled and asked if I could possibly have a bag and he looked at me as if I had just asked for a space ship before producing a plastic bag from under his counter.

When returning to Cyprus, it being a Friday, the first place I headed to was the kiosk to get a copy of The Cyprus Weekly to see how my Limassol pages looked in print. And what does the young woman ask as she takes my money — “Would you like a bag?” I laughed out loud “Ah, I am back in Cyprus and the first thing I am offered is a plastic bag!” I told her about my previous column on the overuse of plastic bags and was glad to see that in addition to the obviously refused plastic bag she also produced a smile.

It’s good to travel, compare, appreciate differences and… smile!

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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