Thursday, August 30, 2012

A look back: Why we travel Hopefully and Fearlessly!!!

SA & USA locator mapImage via WikipediaIn an article published in the New York Times in April of 2011,  PAUL THEROUX  argues for traveling the world even in troubled times. I think that Paul is a very smart man. My husband and I have always been travelers that will not be deterred because of dire warnings or terrorist global threats. We do our travel planning and if the sky doesn't fall, we leave on schedule. I have always wondered why we did that. Are we fearless or risk takers or are we just blithely blithering along?  Perhaps it is a little of all three.  

For example, we traveled to Spain in 2003 when our government was making the decision to invade Iraq. I will have to say that we did not believe our country would actually invade that country but I don't know that it would have made a difference if we had thought they would. In the first place, I don't think we actually realized how small the world is...Spain and Iraq are closer that NYC is to Portland, Oregon. And we had managed to get a very expensive visa to visit Saudi Arabia where our son was living at the time. We were meeting our son in Spain and going back into Saudi Arabia with him. We knew that our opportunity to visit that country might never happen again. So we went!

Spain was in upheaval because, even though a vast majority of the people of that country disagreed, Prime Minister Jose Marie Azner sided with the USA. There were demonstrations in Madrid and Malaga. People marched and called American's idiots. Like the author of the article in the Times, we kept our heads down and tried to look Canadian.  

I might also mention that my passport was stolen at a cafe in Madrid so we did not go to Saudi Arabia. Our son and daughter-in-law did fly in from Saudi Arabia to see us. We were on the Costa del Sol when our country delayed the invasion of Iraq because a huge wind storm of biblical proportions hit the coast of the Mediterranean. Beach front property was destroyed as the ancient Roman light houses stood to witness that day. Would we stay home if we had it to do again...absolutely not. Here is was PAUL THEROUX had to say:
As for the recognition of hard travel as rewarding, the feeling is mainly retrospective, since it is only in looking back that we see how we have been enriched. At the time, of course, the experience of being a bystander to sudden political or social change can be alarming. (NYTimes, Travel, Why We Travel, Friday, April 1, 2011)
We continue to see the world as our oyster. Travel is probably not as dangerous as our lives here at home. You see, we spend the winters in Tucson AZ and have shopped in the grocery where the young man went on a shooting spree killing people and wounding Rep. Gabriel Giffords. We have found that life goes on in countries rife with unrest and natural disasters. Children play, outdoor markets thrive and citizens laugh. I would not have missed one of our experiences.  

We will travel to Vietnam and perhaps Ankor Wat next Christmas. I have a friend that says we should stay at home...the world is not safe when we travel. I always tell her that, really, it is not our fault. But just in case, pray for Vietnam because we are on our way.  
Note: On a website called Worldwide Classroom (complete list found here) I found some to-dos for travel. The article was called The Art of Travel...let me share some of the suggestions that people who teach about travel have compiled:
  • Travel expectantly. Every place you visit is like a surprise package to be opened. Untie the strings with an expectation of high adventure.
  • Travel hopefully. "To travel hopefully," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, "is better than to arrive."
  • Travel humbly. Visit people and places with reverence and respect for their traditions and ways of life.
  • Travel fearlessly. Banish worry and timidity; the world and its people belong to you just as you belong to the world.
  • Travel patiently. It takes time to understand others, especially when there are barriers of language and custom; keep flexible and adaptable to all situations.
     Have a wonderful day and keep that Robert Lewis Stevens quote close to your heart..."To travel hopefully is better than to arrive."



  1. When I was living in London, the IRA announced it would bomb Oxford Street during the Christmas shopping season. Hamleys, the amazing toy store just off Oxford on Regent St., opened a free child-minding space, and Oxford St. had its most profitable shopping season ever. Can't let the baddies get us down.

  2. Sally,

    You are very right. I don't think that my husband and I even acknowledge that there might be any more danger than if we were at home.

    Thank you for your comment.


  3. I've been searched ToMy undies in England (in the 70s headed to Ireland). I've been trapped in a holding area in Turkey. I helped wounded in a bombing in Saudi. I traveled to Vietnam before it was "open".
    I'm planning to go on the train from Vienna to Turkey in 2013. My life is good and I love to travel...and learn. We are a small piece of this world. I love seeming the other pieces.


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