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As uncomfortable as it is... Don't look away

Travelling this way you soon realise that the world isn't all "glitter and rainbows".

For some people life is really, REALLY tough!

We have seen things in the past couple of months that have shocked us; things that in our complete and utter naivety we didn't expect to see; things that have already ultimately changed us and the way we view the world; things that we dearly would love to turn away from.

The first is the amount of rubbish just dumped anywhere and everywhere, especially plastic; bottles, bags, wrappers. When driving through one country we saw a guy sorting through the bags of rubbish thrown at the side of the road and scattering the rubbish about. We knew that this man was just looking for something …anything! Something to eat, something to sell, something to use and all because he had next to nothing.

We are not slinging blame; we are not eco warriors; but we know that this amount of rubbish per head of capita is probably half of that generated in the country we call home …the difference is in our home country the government are financing the burying and hiding of these waste products, some of which will never break down.

DON'T LOOK AWAY ...this is happening.

When NZ banned single use plastic bags we considered it a pain in the butt, and those last few plastic bags we owned were treated like precious rarities. Oh my how foolish we have been! And don't even get us started on plastic bottles; it's a real catch 22 situation as we are in countries where we will (and have) got really sick from drinking tap water, but we need to stay hydrated. We have seen a famous YouTuber filling her hydration bladder with multiple bottles and then leaving them empty at the stall she brought them from. Errr... those bottles you just left there aren't going in the recycling!

Another stand out for us is the "convenience of it all" in Canada and the USA, in 3 months there we didn't stay at one place that had china (and reusable!) cups for coffee, in some cafes even the food was served on plastic or paper plates, and everything is wrapped in thin plastic layer from the plastic straw to stir your coffee with to the ready boiled eggs... we even brought some of those eggs to start with for nothing more than convienince.

DON'T LOOK AWAY ...this is happening.

The second and more disturbing are the beggars who have NOTHING! No government allowances and support, no charity shelter, no "Give a Little" page. These are people; some with disabilities, some with no family help, stand or sit next to busy roads wanting loose change so they can eat that day.

There are two very memorable examples (and there have been MANY) that stand out to us. The first was a blind man who was standing in the middle of two VERY busy lanes of traffic holding out his hand. The look on his face was terror. We were packed tight into fast flowing traffic and I could stop or turn around to give him anything. I can still see his scared face.

The second was two very young children under 7 or 8 who were going through the rubbish bin at a service station while the armed guard was looking the other way... if he turned they would face him with their arms still searching in that bin behind them. I was horrified and rushed into the shop to buy them food and drinks. When I came out they had gone and I searched everywhere for them but they had literally vanished. I had to fight back the tears. All we could do was wrap up the food and put it in the bin and hope they would come back later.

We were exchanging Christmas greeting with Tom and Ruth 3rd who we had met on the Dempster Highway months ago, and because they are seasoned travellers as well as having worked in West Africa in the 70's and 80's we mentioned our observations to them.

They are wise people and this was their reply.

Reading your message made me think about your and our travels - the world is a book and when you do not travel, you only read one page. So, you are on page 150+ or so, we are already reading the last chapter. Keep on turning the pages, enjoy the moment, don't look away.

We realised what a sheltered life we have led.

We realised how chance plays a part on who gets born in this country of relative wealth and who gets born in that country with absolutely nothing.

We realised that problems we have perceived as troubles are nothing compared to what some people live through every day.

We realised that in the past when we visited places we were nothing more than pampered tourists only seeing the nice sparkly bits.

We realised that we are currently incredibly privileged to be able to travel this way; to be travellers, to see EVERYTHING from the good to the bad to the downright ugly... that side of life that is hidden away from almost everyone as an inconvenient truth. A truth that is downright uncomfortable to see and acknowledge.

DON'T LOOK AWAY ...this is happening.

This journey around the world will be life changing …it has already made us so grateful for everything we have …even the s**t days!

We have no idea what is next, but it's guaranteed that we will share it ALL with you, from the glitter and the rainbows to the gut wrenching reality of some peoples lives.

We will continue to turn the pages and read the book.

We will not look away anymore.

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