Why I Travel
Recently I happened upon an article informing visitors to Rio de Janero that the huge statue of Jesus on Corcovado Mountain is under refurbishment. The major structural work assures he will remain strong with arms outstretched welcoming all who visit this magic place for many years to come.
I’m not sure why exactly but it made me think about why I travel.
There are so many physical icons I associate with “places”. La Tour d’Eiffel in Paris, the Roman Forum, Seattle’s Space Needle, the Grand Canyon, New York’s Chrysler Building, Pisa's Leaning Tower, St. Peters, the Taj Mahal and of course the giant statue of Christ overlooking Rio.
These icons have permanent addresses, you have to go see them. They never go on traveling expositions “on loan” from one city to another.
The stone by stone relocation of the London Bridge might be the one exception, but Epcot and tacky Las Vegas copies mean nothing.
A blind person has equally powerful non-visual icons. Distinctive sounds, smells, and tastes define places. A perfect Italian beef tells me I am in Chicago. The sound of street corner jazz, coupled with the smell of mildew mixed with gumbo, is perfected in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The smell of a willow tree always whispers “Alaska” and the smell of creosote plants after a rain is "home".
When home, I spend a lot of time protecting my normally predictable world; I keep my tires rotated and check to make sure the doors are locked each night before climbing into bed.
When I travel, all bets are off. I can be a kid again. Everything is new. Even as eyesight fails and senses begin to blur, much of what I see, hear, smell, and taste is a “first time” event.
Travel is exploration. Not exploration in any Christopher Columbus (sail off the end of the earth) sense, but since I don’t know what waits on the next street it is exploration nonetheless. It is venturing into places where I hear unfamilar words. Where my skin and lungs detect a different degree of humidity.
Travel induces sensory overload. My muddled and jet-lagged brain tells all of my senses to go on full alert to protect me. It starts processing all that new “place” specific data.
So, while I am not sure when I’ll get to Rio; I know I will.
And I am very comforted in knowing that a brand new Jesus will be waiting for me when I get there.
In my inner being, I’ve known that my whole life.
Roadboy's Travels © 2010