I am a traveler. I love traveling and I love maps. If you look in the purple box in my room, you’ll find a whole stack of them from all over the world. You know what I am not? A map reader. It’s true. I can’t read maps. If I had to do it to save my life I might be able to, but give me a city map and tell me to get somewhere, I probably won’t get there.
This isn’t just paper maps. I can’t understand Google Maps, like, ever, unless I know what street I’m on or landmark shown is nearby. Give me a GPS to use in a city? I’m probably going to have to turn around or get new directions. I either turn too early or a street late.
It could be a directional thing. I don’t know north from south unless I’m at home. It could also be that most Central American cities I encountered didn’t have street signs, or they were very poorly marked when they were there. Either way, wandering aimlessly for day helped me figure out my bearings, for the most part. Until I brought that map out.
No matter what kind of map it is, if I am holding it, I have to turn it so it matches the direction of the street I’m on, which still doesn’t really help. But it does at leas get me headed in the right direction. Usually. Sometimes I get within a block or two, but need to go around the corner. Again, the directional thing. Sometimes its five or six blocks off because sometimes my memory is terrible. It tends to vary based on day and location.
Asking for directions is something I have learned to be good at and not afraid to do anymore. This is how I found my hostel in Antigua. And Cancun. And Chetumal. And San Juan del Sur. And the Jesus statue in San Juan del Sur because I ended up in a fancy neighborhood instead. I think you get the idea. I am now a pro at asking strangers for directions, even if I don’t understand them, it works out better than maps.
How does this even work? Is this a skill I should have been born with? Why don’t I have it? Where can I get it? I need answers, people!