“There comes a moment in your life when you realize that no matter how hard you try, you’re never going to be fluent in Spanish. Or go on that African safari you’ve read about since you were a kid. Or be as excited as you used to be about catching fireflies. I keep trying to find my answer to life – and it gets more elusive the older I get.”
I awoke in the middle of the night in a palace in Prague, Czech Republic. I was drenched in sweat and whimpering softly. We had arrived in Prague the day before and we wanted to overcome jet lag, so we spent the late afternoon sightseeing.
Our Airbnb was close to the Charles Bridge, an historic arched bridge that crosses the Vltava River. There are 30 statues that line the balustrade of the old stone bridge. The oldest statue is that of St. John of Nepomuk. In 1393 St. John of Nepomuk was thrown from the bridge into the river where he drowned. In modern times it has become traditional to touch the toe of St. John here; this is held to bring good fortune and to ensure that the visitor will return to the city of Prague.
Now, neither of us are religious, and old statues of saints and religious figures don’t interest us, but I felt an urge to touch his worn toe for luck…it couldn’t possibly hurt. I wove through the crowds and to the foot of Saint John, where I touched his foot and silently asked Saint John to help us throughout our travels. I guess I wanted to be reassured that we would return to Prague safely in two months’ time for our flight back to the states.
The Charles Bridge was shoulder-to-shoulder tourists and vendors. We were overwhelmed and exhausted. After a long, cold winter with Ron’s throat cancer treatments, when he was declared NED (no evidence of disease) we were beyond thrilled. We could pursue our passion for travel again.
Yet, there comes a moment in your life when you realize that no matter how hard you try, age catches up with you and your way of travel must change. For example, we used to love backpacking and camping. Now, we are more suited to glamping and sturdy rolling suitcases. This was that moment!
Compound our modified travel changes with Ron’s long lasting side effects of throat cancer treatment. Daily power milkshakes help him to maintain his weight. Radiation caused him to lose his sense of taste and smell and we have no idea if and when it will return. He had to have all of his teeth pulled before his oncologist permitted radiation; now he is trying to adjust to eating with a full set of expensive dentures. And although he is getting stronger daily, a long adventure through seven countries would be exhausting.
As for me, Chikungunya, our first winter in almost a decade, and a dislocated knee, took its toll on my joints. Plus, I had all of my lower teeth removed because of gum disease which I could no longer control.
We were an aging mess! But, we have never let a few little health annoyances stop us. We are still excited about catching fireflies and our bucket list of travels WILL be accomplished…even in death! In death, you ask? Of course! Even in death the survivor can travel to the places on our bucket list and sprinkle some of our ashes.
So, as far as my beginning quote goes…it is hogwash. There are hundreds of ways to modify travel for those who dare to seek their passion beyond 60. That is what this blog is all about. Everything in moderation and modification.
About my nightmare in the palace in Prague? I dreamed that I bent over the Charles Bridge and my teeth slipped out and fell into the river! I awoke in a panic, and when I felt my mouth with my tongue…my dentures were missing! Was it true? How would I survive without eating? Could someone make me another pair in Prague?
Dentures are expensive and you can’t buy insurance for damaged or lost dentures. I figured that between Ron’s dentures and mine, we have purchased an economy sized car.
The fear of traveling overwhelmed me that night..plus the jet lag didn’t help. As I recall, it was the same fear that gripped me as an expat…the first night in our little jungle house on Ometepe Island. I made Ron sleep with a machete under our bed.
The “what ifs” gradually disappeared. I found my dentures in the palace bathroom…all bubbly clean in the packet of denture effervescent. This was going to be another great adventure. We jumped into the unknown…and after recovering from jet lag…we flew!
And that African safari I read about since I was a kid? I haven’t stopped planning. It will be accomplished.
How have you modified your passions as you grow older? How do you overcome the fear that changes bring?