There is this common missunderstanding that traveling requires an actual transportation of the body, eventhough real trips only occur when you open your mind. Being a traveler is a matter of attitude, is keeping your eyes open and curiosity alive.
My first trip was to Torino, Italy. I was 5 years old. My parents never realized it happened. Went with Enrique, a third grader – seems I always fell for the older boys- it was his first day of school, he was very nervous. The book’s name was “Corazón”.
Since then I have being accused of traveling too much, too often. Not only by reading, but also packing, going trough customs, filling up forms and endlessly waiting at airports for delayed flights. My passport has being stamped hundreds of times. I have made beloved friends with people I never saw again. I have traveled by plane, train, bus, ship, bicycle and rickashaw, to places near and far. To Kyoto and Tierra de Fuego. To Palm Springs and Rio de Janeiro. To Paris and Yaguachi. To Bilbao and Talin. I’ve suffered jet lag, and have being lost in translation. I’ve traveled to hostels with a backpack, and first class to five stars hotels. I’ve eaten from street carts and in luxurious Michellin Star restaurants. I’ve bought crafts from outdoor markets in Montañita and heels in Rodeo Drive. I’ve cried of joy from watching musicians in the London tube and also at the Prague Opera. I’ve seen art on the streets of La Marais and in Louvre and Orsay. Scotish bagpipes have touched my heart and soul as Japaneses and their sense of duty have. I’ve celebrated in different countries St Patricks day, Thanksgiving, Easter and Hanukka. I’ve shopped at organic markets and partied at rooftops. Have visited temples and mosques, anglicans, roman catholic and ortodox churches, praised all their Gods, deities and saints. I ‘ve run the streets of Budapest, done pilates in Buenos Aires, taken yoga on Big Sur and Soho… I have a wide colection of postcards.
Frequently, I also travel to my backyard and always make great findings. Lately Jung and his archetype theory, and that my gardner’s —whose name is Jefferson with a double F as he pointed to me— wife was recently layed out of work. Also discovered that iguanas are much stronger than my french bulldog and that there is couple from Duran —husband and wife— that come to fish for their “encebollado” cart. Also that at 6 pm parrots flocks fly south of Guayaquil, and in April white winged doves are nesting. It was also in my backyard that met Carlos Fuentes, and remembered Vargas Llosa, Borges and so many more.
As time passes I realize that the more I learn, more curious am I. And that in this process many of my fears, limitations and prejudice have being left behind. That have friends in all time tables. That happiness is felt the same everywhere. That every time I let my self freely experience life i learn. And that everybody has something to teach me.
Traveling doesn’t always requires to transport one’s body, but always requires to keep our minds open, allow the experiences to soak in, give in without qualm, without emotional reservations and pickiness. Without being afraid of goodbyes. Let the moment go trough you without any pretensión of controlling it. To know that what you came to see, is not the same to what we will see. That to know a city you have to listen to their people. That tight schedules are a trips worst enemy –but punctuality is very important. That bad decisions make great stories afterwards. And that some pictures shouldn’t be taken because the mental images last forever.
To be a great traveler the first thing to pack is the capacity to feel amazement.