I was obsessed with the concept of time even as a child. I remember how on slow paced beach vacations with my family, I would constantly ask my Dad (who always had the watch), “What time is it?” I’m sure this annoyed my Dad to no end as he probably didn’t want to think about the fact that he’d have to return to work at some point and vacation was quickly ticking away as usual. I will never forget the final instance where I asked him, “What time is it?” He said indignantly, “There is no time on vacation! We eat, sleep, and do whatever, whenever we want”. This whole scenario is best depicted by an episode of the Simpsons:
Are we there yet?! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8k1eTEw4rQ
Why at the age of 10 was I already so worried about following a strict schedule? I believe because it was already ingrained in me to care about being punctual and I had formed the habit of waiting for things to be over by checking the clock (school, gymnastics practice, piano lessons, etc.)
This concept of trying to forget about the time has stuck with me over the years. I still find it extremely difficult to not let it dictate my life. I’m so used to waking up, catching a train, being at work, having scheduled meetings and appointments, eating meals, meeting up with friends, making it to an exercise class, going to bed; all at a certain time. I’m still so used to watching a clock and counting down minutes, hours, days. I truly started to wonder what my life would be like if time didn’t exist and I actually did what I wanted, when I wanted.
Before we left the USA, I bought a cheap Casio watch to wear throughout our travels. It isn’t the most attractive watch. It was even described by my dive master in Colombia as so hideous that it was “breaking his eyes” but I love it. It’s held up well and is completely waterproof. I wear it everyday and hadn’t taken it off in months. That little Casio has been through a lot with me!
Drinking coffee with Jessie in Medellín, Colombia.
Jumping around in Patagonia, Argentina.
Sightseeing in Chile.
Trudging through the Amazon in Ecuador. (You may have also noticed how I’m wearing the same purple shirt in almost every photo..)
Okay, you get the point. The watch has been wrapped around my wrist like a koala bear for the past 6 months and I’ve become far too attached and dependent on it. Even on our travels, I hadn’t ceased my habit of constantly wanting to know the time. I needed to dump this piece of plastic like a clingy boyfriend.
Upon arrival to Ayampe, I couldn’t help but hear my dad’s voice in my head “There is no time on vacation”. This place is tiny, barely a town with only one main road dissecting it through the middle. It is that perfect sleepy Latin American beach that Dan and I were hoping for. The beach is wide, long, and not full of people. There are tourists and some locals but there have been multiple times where I’m the only one on the beach. For the first time since La Serena, Chile, I felt as though I was actually on vacation. So, for the first time in about 6 months, I took off my black Casio watch and left it off for 12 days.
I suggested to Dan on our very first day in Ayampe that we really try to not look at the time. Our whole lives are so dictated by this arbitrary thing, why not try to live without it? When your days basically consist of walks on the beach, searching for rocks, reading, laying in the sun, swimming in the ocean, and beers at sunset, why do you really need it? It might be our only chance for a long while to really see what it’s like.
Rocks, just begging to be collected.
Even though we both agreed that this was a great idea, it was harder to put into practice than I thought. I’m so conditioned to feeling like things need to happen at a certain time. One morning I woke up after 8 a.m. and felt panicked because I wanted to go for a beach run. Why did this matter? It didn’t. But I had in my head that it would get too hot after 8 a.m. Another example is eating. If I’m hungry before noon, I wait to eat lunch. But why? Why can’t I just eat when I’m feeling hungry no matter what time it is? I’m supposed to be on a vacation from TIME! Almost every day, I would still check my wrist as though there was something attached to it. When I didn’t find the black, plastic face staring back up at me, it was good reminder that when the only thing on my schedule was getting a Coqueiro Popsicle from the tienda, I really didn’t need to be following the minutes and hours that passed by.
I realize it’s pretty impossible to ignore time forever. I think for me it’s more about fully enjoying the freedom from it when I can and not constantly checking to see how much time has gone by, wishing away the seconds of my precious life. I need to stop asking myself, the others around me, and my watch “Are we there yet?!”
Playa Los Frailes.