I just met a cute, blonde, young-30’s German girl who comes from a middle-class family with a university education. After working for a couple years in business, she decided to take a break and traveled to Mexico with the intention to stay for a few months.  Just as I found plans change, she ended up staying for several years.  But not only did she change countries, she completely shifted lifestyles. For the past couple years she has lived only in tents, VW vans, and mini-campers on the beach! She explained to me that she loves living simply, with her Italian boyfriend, on the edge of the ocean, making jewelry to sustain themselves. She feels totally free, and happy.
While I admire her sense of spirit and passion for life, I know there is no way in hell I could live in a tent for more than about a month. I just couldn’t. I need a proper bathroom with a shower. I need space to stand up and walk around. I need a nice, comfy bed. I have my standards!

So I ask myself (and my dear readers), are some people naturally more capable of roughing it  than others? (I personally define roughing itas living without the luxuries one is accustomed to in everyday life .)  Is ones affinity for roughing it a result of ones upbringing, childhood experiences, or natural tendencies? 

Tent on the beach

Tent on the beach

Another extreme: I have an American (US), university-educated girlfriend who really cannot stay in anything less than a 5-star hotel. Well, she can, but she hates it. She doesn’t just need a shower, she needs a nice shower. She doesn’t just need a roof over her head, she needs AirCon and screened windows so no bugs enter the room. She doesn’t want to sleep anywhere near sand. And that is her level of roughing it. She just can’t go below that.

5 Star Hotel

5 Star Hotel

So, I wonder, why is her limit so different from the other girl I met? What determines peoples limits and levels of  roughing it? Can one change over time? I do think we get used to a certain standard and it is hard to go below that after a while. I started traveling for business all the time and got quite accustomed to flying first-class and staying in 5-star hotels – but the company paid. And my desire to save money overrides my desire to live in luxury. If I am spending my own hard-earned money on a fancy hotel where I’ll only have time to sleep and bathe, I don’t mind passing the night on a small, simple bed and showering over the toilet!

cabana with a real sand floor!

cabana with a real sand floor!

Perhaps it is all a matter of perspective. In my past vacation to Colombia, my friend and I were the snobbiest of the backpackers – while everyone else on Playa Blanca slept in a hammock or a tent, we opted for the Sandy Suite … a little cabana literally built over the sand. It was by no means luxurious — our backs were killing us after sleeping on the rock-hard mattresses — but we got a free bucket of water and coconut shell to shower with and had a place to change in private. What a luxury!
While I am sure I could not live in a tent on the beach for a year, perhaps I could live in a small cabana on the beach. I guess we each have our own standard of rough. What’s yours?

Advertisements