The travel bug

It’s no secret that I have the travel bug and that I’ve had it for years now. The thing is, it’s a chronic infection and it gets more severe with the passage of time. I find that the more I travel, the more I want to keep travelling. I look back over the past few years of my adulthood (if I can call it that), and especially the last couple years since quitting my job, where travel has been so primary and fundamental to my life and I still somehow find myself pausing in amazement.

With a tremendous fondness, I reminisce the people I’ve met and shared experiences with and the emotions I’ve felt while standing amidst astonishing landscapes or extreme environments or imagination-defying architecture. Truth be told, I could (and have been) among the mundane and the unassuming and the overrated and still cherish those times with great affection. When I’m in a new environment, my senses and emotions are heightened and I feel more alive, more alert, and more aware of everything…

The odour of stinky tofu infiltrates the air while strolling through the night markets of Taipei…The city lights of Hong Kong, Tokyo, and New York violate the dark night sky and flash in all its consumerist and capitalist glory…I look up at same night sky under Lake Titicaca and understand why our galaxy is called the Milky Way…The hypnotic and mesmerizing call to prayer of the muezzins echoes from the minarets of the mosques during sunset in Istanbul…The voice of the squatter outside Leon, Nicaragua demands a bribe to enter the abandoned former prison which overlooks the city and the surrounding volcanoes…The lingering flavours of an exquisite Rioja wine tickle my tongue after a long day of hiking on the Camino de Santiago…The freezing cold water flowing mightily against my legs bring on a sense of urgency while I cross a seasonal glacial river while traversing to that glacier in Georgia…

Through travelling, I’ve had my own preconceptions challenged and I’ve learned not to assume or accept anything as fact simply because that’s the way I previously thought. There have been times when I’ve found myself in tense, uneasy or uncomfortable situations, and was still able to appreciate the emotions that were causing my heart to beat more profoundly. I can even value every uneasy feeling I get, and ask myself if I am really unsafe or just unfamiliar with how things are in another place.

Once I get going, I find that it’s so easy to push aside any worries and anxieties that might have been holding me back. I don’t ignore them, but I do my best not to let them dictate what I know I’m capable of. And once I get going, I become even more addicted and want to continue travelling – to keep exploring, discovering, learning; to keep finding those places where I’ll stand in awe and fascination; to once in a while, shake my head in disbelief at some strange and unpredictable encounters.

The travel bug is taking me to Guatemala today. ¡Vamos!