Traveling with my brother has been a memorable experience; one I’ll never forget. A time for bonding, sharing, connecting and just being with each other. My brother Byron and I, like any siblings have had our ups and downs but I’ve been grateful to have a close connection with Byron, who is wise, mature and very witty! Before moving to Spain, we didn’t see each other that often despite living only an hours drive away- busy with our own lives. When he unexpectedly showed interest in visiting and traveling with me, I was elated. I had no idea how we’d be as travelers together, how’d we get on and if we’d share similar interests but I had an inkling we would when he told me his expectation of his trip: “To have fun.” Easy.
After a few days of his arrival, I soon delegated some travel tasks- he can decide on accommodations and I’ll figure out the best way to get us there- (Spanish transport websites) aren’t always the most logical. I was surprised at his flexibility, his ease and willingness. He’s always resisted traveling, at least the way he knows me to travel with a backpack and staying at hostels or Couchsurfing, always preferring the 5 star hotel treatment he got used to when he’d go on my dad’s business reward trips. Who doesn’t? But it’s often not tangible and why wait when I can create amazing experiences now.
Our first week of traveling we were constantly laughing- laughing about nothing, about silly things, about missing our train, about going for an hour bus ride around our new town when it should have been 5 minutes, being in a different country and good ole’ cultural differences. Byron is one of the few people who can make me laugh until my stomach hurts, until I can’t breathe and I worry I might just die of laughter. I’m sure plenty of people wondered what was going on when they saw us laughing. But we didn’t care. It made us laugh even more.
I missed laughing when week 2 approached and we seemed to be all laughed out yet still enjoying ourselves. It was around this time he said, “Traveling takes a lot of work” and it was interesting to here his observations, his perspective. It’s true. Traveling does take work– figuring out where to stay, how to get there, losing a day or half day in transit, meeting new people and getting to know a new town or city. Sure is. And yet, it’s exhilarating.
He’s proven to himself that traveling for 3 weeks is a bit too much for him, he’s not a traveler nor a backpacker. I laughed every time he cursed cobblestone roads and he joked he was going to invest in asphalt at the sound of clack clack clack of his rolly suitcase wheels went. That’s why I have a backpack and for a moment it all made sense for him yet swore he’d never use one. Traveling, in the sense of changing towns every few days or week isn’t for everyone and certainly isn’t his thing. ‘You can cross off backpacking from your list,” I said jokingly. “Good thing it was never on my list,” he retorted sarcastically. Fair enough.
One of my favorite things about traveling with him was seeing his perspective, hearing his opinions and witnessing his culture shock at things that took me a while to notice or things I didn’t think much about. “Damn, there’s a lot of PDA (Public Display of Affection)- too much in this country” or his first visit to the grocery store, jet-lagged as well, he wanted milk for coffee until he saw it comes in a box, unrefrigerated. “Milk in a box? It’s not even cold. What is that?” or his first night out, also jet lagged, getting tapas in Madrid and the women brought over bread. “Where’s the butter?, he wondered. Oh yea about that, Spain loves their olive oil. Let the culture shock begin. But I encouraged him to ask the waitress for butter and she explained they had some but for whatever reason couldn’t bring him any. That became a running joke every time we were served bread. Almost every meal.
I loved hearing his commentary about Spain and Portugal, his jokes and his curiosity. I could see the American in him, as I’ve been noticing in myself over the last 9 months, conveniences were used to, cost of things, tipping culture in the States, way of expressing ourselves, dealing with differences and the list goes on. He couldn’t get over how cheap beer and liquor was, and at first shrugged his shoulders to giving a tip equal to the amount of the cost of his beer. I gave him tips occasionally but bit my tongue often, wanting him to form his own opinions and own perspective.
We got on well. We didn’t pull out each other’s hair nor make attempts at killing each other. We had a similar idea of what we wanted to do and way of traveling. He’s not huge on sightseeing, visiting museums or cathedrals and nor am I. I prefer to get to know a place by meeting people, taking a stroll through cities and tasting the food, all the while taking a bazillion photos. Though he’s not a foodie, thankfully he always has an appetite and is always game for trying new food and having his afternoon café.
I hope we have future travels together, maybe make it a yearly tradition if our lives and schedules allow it but maybe next time will go to one place and stay for a week and call it good. More like a vacation. As I start to realize my own limitations of travel, I can appreciate his. Not everyone is a traveler and everyone has their time limit.
In the wee hours this morning I took him to the airport to send him off. Somehow 3 weeks had passed, seven cities visited. We had an amazing time together and yes we got on each other’s nerves sometimes but that’s expected.I was sad to see him go, sad he’s not here. It was strange to see his empty bed when I woke up (again) this morning.We were practically around each other 24/7, always together. I miss him already. I MISS him a lot. He’s a great travel buddy. And having traveled a lot, it’s not everyday I find someone I can travel with, travel in a similar way as me.
Have you traveled with a sibling before? How was your experience? Do you have certain things you do together when you’re traveling?