Friday, July 29, 2016

Why I Travel

It's been eight months since I came home from SE Asia.  I realized this morning that this is the  longest stretch of being home since I moved here 22 years ago.  The job I moved here for required weekly travel.  Then, after I went out on my own as a consultant, I traveled for work about 95% of the time.  When I wasn't traveling for work, I used my frequent flyer miles to travel internationally for fun.

My wanderlust started when I was young.  My mom's brother - Uncle Jim, to me - sent us the same gifts every Christmas.  A subscription to the National Geographic magazine and a ten pound box of Russell Stover chocolates.

My mom, brother and I would spend hours looking at the photographs, turning pages with chocolaty sticky fingers.  We'd pull out the maps and talk about the places whose names we couldn't pronounce.  We'd talk about family vacations to exotic places.  Those didn't happen because as hard as my dad worked and as successful as he was, the budget didn't stretch that far.  But imagination and learning are free.

I'll always be grateful to my parents for teaching me to dream.  To plan adventures and believe I could make them happen.  Our family vacations were frequently to Baja, California.  That might seem exotic if you're from Boston or Florida but since we lived in southern Arizona the trips were drive-able and relatively inexpensive. 
Back in 1959 we didn't have cell phone photos or drones or even colored photos.  But this is horseback riding on the beach in Baja.

I ate my first street food in Mexico with my dad.  Actually, it was "beach food".  My dad and I went for a horseback ride on the beach at sunrise while my mom and brother slept in.  On our way back to the hotel, a man was just setting up his stand to sell fresh raw oysters.  My dad asked for one.  It was served in a small dixie cup with a squeeze of lime and shot of hot sauce.  Since I was definitely a daddy's girl, I had one too.  And loved it.

I still love street food and poring over maps.  Now the internet makes planning the next adventure even easier.  When I came home last November I wasn't interested in travel.  I was done exploring.  For the first time in my life I wasn't thinking about the next place.  It was a bit disconcerting but I turned my attention to being home and getting my nest in shape.

Lately, I've found myself thinking about where I want to travel next.  What I might see and experience.  I've been looking at maps again.  I'm starting to yearn for the smell of jet fuel.  Thanks, Uncle Jim.

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