Why Travel is Important
It’s my last day in the office as we prepare to head south to Costa Rica again this year. Melissa and I love to travel, see new places, meet new people and experience different cultures. We believe it makes life richer to get out of confines of Asheville.
There’s a reason why we use the term foreign when describing other cultures; because they’re different that what we’re used to. They eat differently, speak differently, worship differently (or not at all) and live differently. That’s very foreign to us from the USA and sometimes creates fear. As I’ve said many times in the past, we don’t make our best decisions when those decisions are made out of fear.
And so, we choose to visit other cultures, countries and continents. We want to learn about how other people live so, instead of being afraid of them, we can embrace them. Virtually every place we’ve visited has been warm and welcoming. Don’t know the language? Practice the basics beforehand so you’re not the “monolingual gringo” as a friend described. Understanding some basic phrases goes a long way to making friends when you travel and eliminating fear. Communicate!
When we were traveling in Austria this past August, I learned how important it was to communicate and ask permission to take a picture. Melissa was chatting with a shopkeeper and I wanted to capture an “in the moment” photo. The shopkeeper very bluntly said that I needed to ask first. My argument was that by asking, they wouldn’t be in the moment, but I understand her point. I asked after that!
Sometimes, you end up in a completely unexpected situation. We were in the Galapagos back in 2006 when we found ourselves in the middle of a political rally for a presidential candidate. I think there were 10+ candidates running, so they had to get out to all parts of the country. The difference between this rally and the one we attended for Barrack Obama in 2007 were stark. The Ecuadorian candidate had women in bikinis on stage singing and dancing and only made a brief appearance and no real speech. I don’t think this candidate won, but we enjoyed being in the energy surrounding this event!
The more you travel, the more realize that people from other countries are just like you are. They care about their families, they eat good food and enjoy a drink after work. They appreciate the natural beauty around them and love to share it with visitors.
We spent a great evening in Dublin in 2007 with an accountant named Ken, drinking Guinness at the Ireland’s oldest pub, the Brazen Head. We sat down for a drink and just started chatting and a couple of hours later, realized we had made a friend.
On our honeymoon in St. Lucia in 2004, one of the staff was a wonderful lady named Theresa. Theresa told us stories about her family. She also told us about the cultural problems they had on the island with fatherless children because of drugs and alcohol.
And, visiting my distant cousin Rainer Lingenfelder in Germany and getting a tour of his family’s winery and discussing wine, food and politics over a wonderful rose’ was priceless.
Sometimes it can even feel foreign traveling within the States. The regions can be so different with the accents, foods, customs and even politics now. Visit places that that you wouldn’t ordinarily visit to learn about the people and the place. Hear their stories. Understand why they may feel the way they do or believe what they believe. Just get out there and experience.
When we’re in Costa Rica, we’ll continue to develop our Spanish language skills, enjoy spending time with friends, visit Fressy in Boruca to see how her English language skills are (after we brought her a computer last year with Rosetta Stone English on it) watch some birds, do some work and relax. I might even write a blog or two! Our flight leaves at 7:30 on Wednesday morning. Adios!