Down time is good time I’ve come to realize. In my earlier incarnations of traveling, I only had 3 or 4 days to try to walk a portion of a city that I would feel joy and accomplishment in. In Vancouver I had 3.5 days. I ended up walking 7 hours a day because the city is so diverse and fun. It was the same in San Diego before that. Only a few days. Really the down time was the evenings over beer and food and I would study google maps a bit. I didn’t really care if there was a tourist thing I could miss if I ended up feeling that I had given the place my best shot. My work colleagues and friends then could not understand the walking each day.
When I retired in 2018, things changed. I had 3 months in Hanoi to wander the city. That has been my longest stay in one place yet. I was still new to the slow travel, long term stay thing so I gave it a lot to see all the wonderful, strange, funky, and fun places I could but I also wanted to see the out of the way side streets and alleys. I wanted to say at the end of the day I had seen what I wanted to see. I knew I had not seen all.
Preceding that Japan in March was 4 or 5 days in 3 places. Much the same as my previous walking excursions. I had limited time and then off on a Shinkansen to see another place before flying out of Osaka to Thailand and then Vietnam.
Down time has come…
The thing after 10 months on this slow hobo vagabond means I see parts of each city at a different pace. Like here in Siem Reap, I’ve done the tourist things like temples and museums. Now I am at the daily life thing. I walk the city streets to see how people live, what they do. It also means down time. That has been a particularly hard thing to get used to. I think it’s because I feel like I really worked hard those last few years at the company. I gave them all I had and by January of 2018 I knew that the tank had run dry. I could summon no excitement and only waited for the end.
Here’s the strange and profound part. When the end came for work and I had the down time, I had no idea what to do with it. Still I find myself kind of chomping at the bit sometimes. I take my 6 or 7 mile walks and see the city and get back to an air conditioned room and peace and quiet. No cars and people. And it’s still rather strange. I have realized to cherish the down time as well and I work at it diligently. I try to carve out time each day to do other things even if to read. Now I consider wanting to write some longer content. I think perhaps a story and a few ideas have battled in my head when out strolling the city.
It has become easier to accept the down time since there is no work that battles it each day. The hardest thing to c0me to grips with is that finally the days are all mine. There is nothing that must be done besides what I say must be done. And there really is not a lot there. I’m after learning a bit more about photography, walking each day, eating well, drinking a beer or two. Then I travel slowly to another place.
Someone in Vietnam once asked if I could go back to work. I don’t think so. I don’t have the drive and desire to ever give my time away again even for money. I have sufficient money to last me as long as I want it to. I can live how I want. I can splurge on a room or meal and there is no guilt or budget to track against.
Maybe the down time is the greatest adjustment in retirement. If you worked 30 years and suddenly all that is gone and you have no plan, I think life kinda spirals down and it is you and the window and the front yard. I’m forever grateful I got the down time and the “me time” and I fill it with experiences, ideas, and tomorrows I want. But slowly… Slowly… Slowly…
There is no hurry when you have time to spare. A meal or an adventure or a quiet afternoon carefully thinking about a thing to write or a book on the kindle. It’s all there. My down time is looking up!