Small pleasures or luxuries…?

We take everything we have around us for granted. When something is not working at home, we get very frustrated. But then, we call someone to fix it and all is back to normal again.

When we travel somewhere, we do know that we will not have everything in the same place than home, but we adapt, especially as we know that it is temporary.

When travelling for longer, the perspective on what we have and what need changes. We come to appreciate again small pleasures that life can bring and the luxuries that we take often for granted.

I travel in luxury. I do have a proper house/home with everything I need (and more). And even if in my small capacity, it is maybe not a lot from a European perspective, I have a lot more than many people here. On some example of my luxury items in my home, I have an italian coffee machine, a coffee grinder, a blender, a proper gaz stove for cooking, a small gaz cooker for morning coffee, a sewing machine, a nice silk duvet for cold nights, a well stocked pharmacy… It is pretty much something like “you need it, I have it”!

But what is luxury? It all depends on your perspective…
What I do not have in the house is a toilet. But I always stay somewhere where there is one. And all is fine. Until the day when I stayed for the first time somewhere private (in a workshop…) and in the morning, I cherished the luxury of having the toilet right next to me, like in any European house. Toilet nearby was luxury.
Then time passed and I went to places where the toilet is a hole in the ground, the size of a small brick. As we are not used to it, it is difficult for us to use…. And now, the luxury is to have a toilet seat… Even if 5 min walk away… Even if long drop and not flush toilet…
This luxury only depends on what we are used to.

Another thing I dont have is running water. I cant just open the tab and let it run forever. The good thing is that you are more careful about how much water you need and you waste a lot less. While I dont have running water, I do have a 40L tank for everyday chores (dishes, laundry, shower…) and about 30L of drinking water in bottles ranging from 0.5L to 5L. Accessing drinking water in itself is not an issue. As my home is also a car, if there is no water where I stop, I use my stock and re-fill at the next opportunity, at a borehole along the way. So water is not my luxury. However… Having a tap next to me is a luxury!
The convenience of knowing that you can wash your dishes or your laundry in a place where you dont count the drops and dont have to carry 10L somewhere else. That you can drink without having to drive or walk 10 kilometers… Access to water 5 min away is luxury… Having to only carry the water you need to drink (and not for everything else) is luxury. And so many here dont even have this luxury.

And what about small pleasures?
Things that we can have everyday, or that we can afford to buy when we want are just normal. And then came a time when we cant find something or we cant afford it anymore (or choose not to afford). Accessing this can be luxury or become small pleasures.
I have been to places where I cooked proper indian food with Indians on charcoal. This was great pleasure to learn their cooking and to eat it. I enjoy when I have a kitchen that is all set and where I dont have to open everything before, get everything out and then fit everything back again when I am done (beside cooking, setting up and putting away can take 20min). But I dont consider this as luxury or small pleasure. It is just nice.

But small pleasures are more than things. Small pleasures are not luxury.

Small pleasure comes when you have pancakes in a campsite with lovely people, one true European dish in the bush, after 10 months.
Small pleasure comes when someone offers you a slice of bread with Nutella.
Small pleasure comes when you drink a cold drink (or beer…) in good company after a hot day on a dusty road.
Small pleasure comes when you gaze at the milky way in the middle of the desert.
Small pleasure comes when a kid’s face lights up with a big smile just because you say hi.
Small pleasure comes when someone you met once is so happy to see you again that you get a big hug in the middle of the road, in a small village in Africa.
Small pleasure comes when you close your door anywhere and feel at home.

What makes you happy is a small pleasure.
What you take for granted and now dont have everyday becomes a small pleasure.

Small pleasures are those moments that you learn to appreciate. They are not luxury. Most of them are available to all. We only have to recognise them, size them and appreciate them everyday.

Cape Maclear, Malawi

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