Carolyn Masler is a fifty-nine year old psychotherapist who
has trekked successfully in India enough times to be able
to offer her advice. Caroline writes...
I'm sending along some
of the practical and the philosophical ideas that continue
to work for me when I travel to India. Perhaps they will work
for other journey women as well.
As many times as I have been
to India, I find that each time I go I wing it. Before starting
a trek, I become familiar with the area. I determine how physically
demanding it will be. With this information, I know how to prepare
myself, what gear I must take, including trekking gear, gear
for the porters and/or guide, medications, etc. Upon arrival
in the trekking area, I start some local investigation. I usually
begin by asking whomever I meet. This might give me a tip that
leads to someone else, and so on. I get an idea of the expense
I should expect by talking to at least three outfitters or other
people involved in trekking. Then I decide how to go and with
whom to go. Basically, I trust my own instincts in terms of
making a final choice.
Next step is the bargaining
process. Before you settle on a price, it is very important
to insist that the porters and guides be precise as to exactly
what they will do and how much each of these jobs will cost.
If they can read, I make out some sort of a contract. If they
can't, I take along and use a small recorder so that, after
the trek, I can play back to them exactly what our agreement
was. I've found that this kind of precision is very important
because otherwise there can be disputes about what is owed.
Don't take yourself too
seriously. Remember, nobody cares who you are or what you
are. Seriousness turns people off. It's important to be able
to laugh at yourself and to laugh at the absurdities of life.
Laughter lightens the burden and relieves the stress of traveling--especially
Be flexible; let go of
old rules. There will be many times when you are helpless.
Treasure those times, they teach you about your real place
in the world.
There are times when
it is important to be cautious. Traveling can be dangerous,
but I think that most new travelers err on the side of being
overly cautious. Their suspicion overwhelms the experience
and the wonder of the moment is lost.
Don't expect your journey
to go smoothly. There is always a problem of one kind or another
to deal with. It is all part of the experience and the challenge.