I spent my childhood staring at pictures in National Geographic magazine. These images of another world were intriguing, awe-inspiring, and introduced me to a world of wonder with an endless amount of unanswered questions.
I didn’t know what smells or sounds there were; I didn’t know what the air felt like – was it thick and heavy or were there ocean breezes?
I didn’t know what the people looked like as they moved through their daily lives – what gait did they have; how did they talk to each other; what did they want; what did they know about my country?
I didn’t know what the food tasted like or how it was prepared or what happened during mealtimes and really anytime – what was it like to really live there and what was it like to die there?
My thirst to learn more about the people and places in these pictures is wholly unquenchable. While travel has attempted to answer all of these questions, it has only inspired a million more. It’s truly a non-stop interactive learning experience with people who are simultaneously like no one you’ve ever met before and like everyone you’ve ever met before.
I’ve landed in a city or walked into a town before and thought “Holy shit, I’m here; I’m in the magazine. It’s real. Here are the answers to all of those questions.” You can see, smell, taste, touch, hear, and feel everything. It’s always so much bigger and deeper and more intense than you ever could have dreamed.
Then you begin to meet the people. They invite you into their homes, their lives, and they stick you in the middle of the generation you fit with the best and instantly you’re a part of their family. You have aunties, uncles, parents, grandparents, and siblings that don’t even speak the same language. You begin to realize and internalize that no matter where you are, people are generally good and care for each other. The deepest part of what makes us human has always been the same, no matter the coordinates of birth.
You begin to think that maybe you were here all along and that other life where you were looking at pictures of this place in your grandmother’s bedroom was the dream. But then you see a picture of the next place and you realize that it’s not the place that feels like home, it’s the traveling that feels like home.
Obsession? Nah, that doesn’t even scrape the surface. Travel is simply my most natural state of being.