Why Must We Travel?

First solo trip, 2008
I set out to find a place to rest my feet as I nibble away on roasted corn. With their eyes, the ladies took my picture. The youngest girl revealed a crocheted wallet in the palm of her hand. We exchanged smiles. She accepted my quetzales (money).

With no true distinction of seasons in my beloved Miami, it is easy to forget that the world around us is not on a continuous vacation.  Like most of us who venture out into unknown territory it is because the routine of life is reluctant to offer surprises.   For me, travel does just that- – it offers surprises.  Gladly, the surprises are ones that come from within.  

In 2008, I took my first solo voyage to Guatemala.  I arrived with more than enough Spanish ability to ask for directions, order food and carry on short conversations.  I am eternally grateful for the patience of Guatemalan people.   As I stumbled with finding my way around crowded bus stations, open markets and ancient ruins, I began to walk with an authority that I hadn’t noticed prior to my trip.  I stopped translating and started speaking- – my Spanish was flowing.  I ceased the nervous wrestling with directions and began strolling.  I quit vacationing and started exploring.   I began to like the Spanish speaking, calm and curious lady that presented herself.  And it was then I realized, I must do more than just vacation.  I MUST travel.

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