We met a photographer in Guatemala a couple of months ago. During conversation she wanted to move past the usual traveler small talk of the, “where are you from?” and “what did you like the most so far?” type of questions. Instead, she thought we should be discovering why it is people travel. What are we getting away from, what are we trying to discover? You ask people why they travel and the answers are as varied as the faces that respond.
The last 2 weeks (in Barcelona, Leucate in the south of France, and Turkey), have offered me small, deeper understandings of my own answers. Barcelona reminded me that I travel for feelings of familiarity and not just for what is new. There’s happiness in a place that you’ve remembered in fondness welcoming you back. Eating at the same restaurants, feeling the city’s pulse late at night, seeing its Gothic and Modernist architecture brought back memories of times past. This time however, there also was an added feeling, that of pride—mostly unwarranted, as I was able to share the city I had learned to love before, with Mari and her parents. And by seeing them see the city with fresh eyes I once again saw the city’s offerings. I felt fortunate to spend time with the Yaos as I got to know them better, and in turn Mari.
The familiarity of Barcelona became less familiar as we stopped over in the south of France, and stepped back in time. Whatever you conjure in your mind of the south of France…picturesque vineyards…medieval castles and French village life…the Pyrenees—It’s all accurate. And sometimes traveling is about that—seeing something with your own eyes. Confirmation of the world’s beauty.
We stayed in France with some friends whom we originally met in Central America. Traveling had allowed us to develop a friendship with this amazing couple whom we would have never met otherwise. They were warm hosts and have become good friends.
From our friends in France, we took another step towards the unfamiliar and entered Turkey, a country neither Mari nor I had any idea what to expect from. It was another step back in time, as we have traded the medieval ages for the Greek/Roman eras and exchanged the warmth of family and friends for the random kindnesses of strangers. And initial impressions of Turkey have been all really positive. So much so, that we are postponing our step to the next country, staying here 2 ½ extra weeks, and if we’re lucky—continue to be given those little truths of why we travel.
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