“I feel successful when I come back from a trip somehow not myself. I remain awake nights unsettled by what I’ve seen. The postcards, receipts, and the stories they tell convey only a small bit of what I encountered both in the world and within myself. They can’t express those moments that haunt, that lie somewhere beyond what I can’t put into words and what I don’t quite understand.”
Travel today is largely to escape one’s life— to rest from the mad pace of our 21st Century lifestyles. Tourism has become an industry that offers predictability, safety, and most importantly comfort. Luxury is marketed to us (Westerners) as if it is the ultimate goal of a satisfied life. Around the world; bus, train stations, and airports are full of “backpackers” usually in their mid to late 20’s. These young people are out exploring the world they inhabit. But once we are older, Americans tend to avail themselves of the cruise industry and guided travel packages that offer entertainment, eating opportunities, and sites to see. These are often, but not always, at exorbitant prices. Traveling to learn about and explore the cultures and peoples along the way is not, for the most part, a main focus.
But there are deeper, richer lessons to be learned on the road. Some of us yearn to travel to find ourselves or lose ourselves as the case may be. There is a different relationship to time on the road, a freedom of thought I don’t usually have at home or don’t allow myself to have where I am encumbered with responsibilities and relationships. It is actually liberating to break away from stultifying habits and the addiction to comfort that strangles us and stops us from truly seeing the world around us.
The Muslim call to prayer echoing from mosque to mosque above the clamor of traffic and commerce. The ancient jacaranda tree I could see from my hotel balcony. The old gardener whose eyes met mine as we watched the fragrant white flowers of the Frangipani tree land silently on the stone walkway. The children splashing and bathing on the ghats of the Ganges filling me with a sudden unanswerable awareness that I knew this place before. These are transforming moments that tattooed a permanent impression in my awareness.
I offer you these stories, adventures and dining delights. They are not in any chronological order. I hope you will find, as I have, there is something sacred waiting to be discovered in every journey.