This phrase sailed many an adventurer over the waters to view different cultures and taste unusual delicacies and marvel in the wonders of this globe. Away from the usual into the unknown, our species seems to be driven into exploring.
Unfortunately for those who welcome the strangers in to their way of life, they are often killed and their land and resources stolen.
Recently a couple of friends were discussing all the places on this blue marble they had visited and made me think (or I wouldn’t be writing this).
It was a rite of passage to grow up and see the world. This was the theme of recruitment for the Navy with ideas of a girl in every port and coming home a well rounded more intelligent young man having experienced what the globe offers and needing some shots.
Industries of travel agents promise the getaway from the routine dull and boring mundane life each of us live everyday with a full color brochures showing perfectly white soft beaches dotted with cool drinks under palms swaying in the breezes served by attractive natives at your beckoned call. Any location will be provided on multiple levels of exploration - for a price.
But you can only stay for a short time before you have to leave and return to your routine dull and boring mundane life. The next batches of travelers have to be shown the routine of antiquities and worthless bargains that wouldn’t be sold in Wal-Mart.
The guides intoxicate the visitors with tales of kings and queens, mysterious scoundrels and romance while the continuous train of consumers grab up over priced trinkets and unusual delicacies that often does not set well with their normal bland diet.
My parents sent me to Travel-o-loges perhaps to get me interested in traveling or maybe to peak my interest in learning about all these far off places. I found the pictures and movies and lectures interesting but they only scratched the surface, much like history class.
Sure I’ve gone a few places and seen some stuff, but the travels I cherish and remember with great fondness are about “the people” not the places.
I was lucky enough to learn enough of the guitar so many of my early travels brought people together with music. Strangers can become life long friends over a pint and a song.
Other, more distant travels required exploring places not on the tour list. Don’t ask the hotel Concierge for directions to the local hot spot, but ask the bus boy where the locals hang out.
Even without knowing the language people can relate to one another, but be aware to observe. This is what travel is all about. See how people, just like you, relate to each other.
(Side note: in today’s internet, we communicate with people all over the globe without taking off our pajamas, but it is different in the smell and the heat and the sound of a different environment).
Being invited into a stranger’s home and partaking of his or her normal dinner is the real treat of travel. It is always good to carry a treat to repay such hospitality.
And though this is not as easy as following a pre-assigned schedule and you will not get any photos of the usual sites, you will get a feel for the culture and what makes us all similar yet different.
Perhaps I’ve been lucky with the limited adventures I’ve had, but each is the memory of people and not the places. A return trip might bring a different reminder or a totally new exploration.
But I never found anything or anyone better than home.
And home is wherever you are.