We were cycling in southern Peru on the shores of Lake Titicaca at about 12,000 feet in the Andes. It was smack dab in the middle of the coldest winter on record and I was bundled up with wool tights, wool sweater, wool hat and gloves. My face, the only part of body not covered against the frigid wind blowing over the waters of Lake Titicaca, was glowing red in protest.
I was pedaling my heavily loaded bicycle toward Bolivia when I noticed my knees lifting just a tad bit higher than they should have. “That’s odd,” I thought as I climbed off my bike to check the clamp that held my seat at the proper height.
In that moment I learned to never underestimate the importance of the little things.
A seat post clamp is a little thing. It’s a tiny ring that, as I found out when it fell off my bike into my hand, is very important.
For the next ten miles into town I pedaled with my seat all the way down. ALL the way down and, with each pedal stroke, my knees hit my chin.
My automatic reaction was to complain. Isn’t that what we all do in moments like that? We bitch, moan, and complain as if that is going to change something. As I cycled into town with my seat six inches too low, I remembered the words of my son. “Complaining isn’t going to change anything, Mom.”
It was a few months earlier that we had arrived into Trujillo, Peru’s 2nd largest city in the northern part of the country. For three weeks we had struggled to get there. We had endured high equatorial temperatures as we cycled through the stark, barren coastal desert. Mother Nature sent every single one of her wind warriors to greet us.
Many tons of sand blow across that desert highway every day, and every single grain of it found our legs. For the record, blowing sand feels like BBs.
By the time we reached Trujillo, I was done. I had had it with Peru.
Peru was, in my mind, a terrible horrible no good very bad country. And I let that be known. Loudly.
I complained about the desert. I complained about the wind. As my mind continued its downward spiral, I complained about the people and hotels and food. There was nothing – absolutely nothing – positive about Peru.
“You won’t change anything by complaining, Mom,” my 12-year-old son said as we walked through the city one day. “Complaining won’t change anything.”
That stopped me in my tracks.
“All you can do is keep going and things will get better,” he continued.
Why don’t we adults have the wisdom of kids?
He was right, of course. Complaining wouldn’t change a gosh-darn thing. All I could do was keep going and things would turn around.
The desert wasn’t any less bleak, or the wind was less severe. Hotels were still dismal and food was inedible. What I can say is that when I stopped complaining, they somehow didn’t seem quite so bad.
As I pedaled into town with my knees banging on my chin months later, I thought about Daryl’s words. “Complaining won’t change anything, Mom.”
All I could do was carry on and things would get better. He was right. Complaining wouldn’t change a gosh-darn thing.
This post is part of a collaborative effort from families living and traveling around the world about lessons we’ve learned from travel. Check out these other posts as well:
Bohemian Travelers: Travel Lessons: Can You Embrace the Unknown
The Nomadic Family: I Know Nothing (and 99 Other Things The Road Has Taught Me)
Pearce On Earth: 5 Life Lessons Learned from Traveling
Living Outside of the Box – 6 Life Lessons From the Road
A King’s Life: Two things I know for sure
Flashpacker Family – Lessons from the road of life
Family Travel Bucket List – 3 Things We’ve Learned While Living Outside of the USA
RambleCrunch – 15 lessons I’ve learned traveling the world
Grow in Grace Life – By Any Road..Lessons from the Journey
Our Travel Lifestyle – Travel: Teaching us about ourselves
Travel with Bender – You won’t believe what we have learnt!
Life Changing Year – Life Lessons From The Road – A Little Bit Of Planning Goes A Loooong Way!