Having lived in Mallorca for exactly one year now, I can finally say – the things that make you most uncomfortable, are the things that enlighten your world. Just how uncomfortable you’re willing to get is a personal choice, but if the answer is not at all, I fear you are missing the point of travel.
I remember being in Toledo, Spain, and calling from my hotel room to arrange a taxi. “I’m sorry, the country is on holiday until Monday”. It was Friday! The words “the country is on holiday until Monday” kept replaying in my head, and as bewildered as I was, I couldn’t stop laughing. Seriously?? At the time I felt compelled to walk down to the front desk and have a conversation with this man about how ridiculous it was that there wasn’t a single taxi available to take me to Madrid. He just smiled and let me ramble. When I ran out of steam, he took a paper map from under his desk and drew a line to the train station … 2 miles away. Yup, I was walking. Now anyone who knows me, knows that I love to walk, I love trains, and I despise being in the backseat of a car with a stranger. So why wouldn’t I prefer to walk and take a beautiful train ride? Because it was uncomfortable not knowing where to go, how to buy a ticket, which stop to get off, and whether or not I would understand enough Spanish to find my way. It was just easier to call a taxi. Thank goodness the country was on holiday that weekend.
2 months ago in Morocco, I felt like I went back in time. Donkeys carried your luggage to the hotel, hot water bottles were left in your bed to keep you warm, a cocktail was hard to come by, live chickens and barrels of snails were being sold in the street. There was also one vendor selling sweets, but there were bees ALL OVER these sweets. He would simply shoo them away, put your treats in a bag, and take your money. My Brooklyn upbringing was like “a bug … was just … crawling on your food”!
In Mallorca a store may actually open late if it’s raining, and that is understood. It truly amazes me how calm people are about this. “Oh, don’t worry … I’m sure they will open soon”. Some stores shut down completely during the busiest season. A friend of mine got married in Mallorca and we went to a lovely shop in Palma to buy a stunning yellow, orange, and green mini dress for her wedding (so awesome!). The shop owner told us that she was closing in July and August to spend time on the quiet side of the island with her family. The summer is the absolute busiest season, when she would make the most money by far … yet it would cause her to endure a crowded commute each day. Quality of life ranks very high here in Spain.
In NYC I work for the most phenomenal gym chain on the planet, and if you are one minute late, you are written up. Guess who is never late? Everyone. They also don’t close due to catastrophic weather. Instead, they re-arrange staff so that the closest employees to a particular club work there for the day. Then they extend all access membership to all of their clients, so they can train in the most convenient location. To be honest, I prefer this to closing due to rain, and NYC will never adopt the lifestyle of Spain, but it does kind of spoil you. If you want to enlighten your world, you'll have to travel while allowing yourself to embrace being wonderfully uncomfortable.
When I complain about Mallorca, it's usually because I'm from NYC and I'm used to things being open and available 24/7 … but how absolutely wonderful to see an entire village or city shut down to come together and observe tradition. That is exactly what will happen tonight during the Festes de Sant Sebastiá. I can’t wait!
Go explore the world as it is. Learn and grow, find patience, immerse and empathize, be grateful, and let quality of life rank higher than convenience. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.