Friday, February 23, 2007
I got it bad
Trips and chips, I take one, and I just gotta have more. For those of us afflicted with severe wanderlust, it’s insidious. An intense longing to travel every path that winds through this amazing planet.
I have only been back from Africa 5 weeks. But dreams of exploring new places, saying “hello” in a different language, waking up wondering what unknown adventures the day will bring, distract me more every day. Not to the point of chucking my job, selling the house and hitting the road for a couple of years, (not yet anyway), but the ache has me checking out places on the internet, reading travel books again, and gazing at my office wall, where this hangs:
Hard to say what causes a virulent case of itchy feet. But I remember the first time it struck me. I was 12 or so, in London for the first time, having mostly only traveled in Canada before that. Our hotel, near Marble Arch, looked over a wide street, bustling even before dawn as I sat in a window seat looking out, too excited to sleep. I was enthralled by the strangeness of ordinary things, like the double deckers, big black taxis, red telephone booths, men in raincoats and shoes, not parkas and galoshes in January.
Over the next few years I lived in Tanzania, commuted to boarding school in Kenya, and traveled in Europe and the Middle East with my family. The travel bug got stronger. Once during a trip to Italy, I convinced my parents to let me fly from Rome to Paris for a week. I stayed with family friends, but they were at work and school all day. So I happily headed out alone each morning, armed with a map and metro tickets. I went to the Louvre and found Mona Lisa, had a charcoal caricature drawn in Montmartre, gaped at Notre Dame Cathedral and ate lunch in boulangeries. I was 14. At 17 my tolerant parents let me go to London for the Christmas holidays, where I stayed in a room in a nurse’s residence, and hung out with a friend from Poland. At 19 I spent the summer on an archaeological dig in the Negev Desert in Israel, riding buses all over the country on weekends. Do you get the picture?
Maybe it’s genetic. My wandering retired parents are on a houseboat in Kerala, India as I write this. My little sister is in Spain. She left Canada in her early 20’s to teach English in Japan, and has worked and lived all over the world since then. For the past ten years or so she and her hubby have sailed the globe working as crew on a fancy yacht.
Whatever the cause of this potent affliction; I hope I never lose it.
It’s almost time to reinstate the “dream destination of the day” on these pages. But first I’m curious: Where do you dream of traveling to? Or back to? Why there?