For most people, travel equates with vacation – getting away from something, like work or the cold winter of Montreal. However, for me, it’s about seeking a powerful yet fleeting feeling, loss of bearings, a place where all my sense are reset.
I am forced to disengage from the autopilot that is daily life: going to the office, to the grocery store, understanding the people around me and the local culture. These are all things that are so familiar that I don’t need to think about them. When I land in a place like Kenya or Egypt for the first time, everything is different.
I have no idea about the layout of the place; the languages are different as well as the culture and people’s dispositions and attitudes. The sights, architecture, vegetation, smells and sounds are totally new. Even if the locals people speak your language – assuming it’s not their first language – they will likely have an accent, miss the grammar or use unfamiliar idioms. You need to draw additional cues to understand and be understood – you need make an additional effort, body language becomes more important, and you get to flex mental muscles you usually don’t use.
Every sense is stimulated – yes, it can be tiring – but how exhilarating! You will encounter some frustrations, but sooner or later, you will invariably prevail, if you keep an open mind. You are humbled and enriched with new experiences and friendships. Your perspective is widened – you are now looking at the world from 10,000 feet instead of ground level.
When you return home, the guy who cut you off on the highway – these first world problems – no longer bothers you, for a while at least, it’s simply not worth your time, you feel that there are more important things in life.
Not only you get to know new lands and places, but you also learn about yourself, about who you really are and what really matters to you.
It’s life experience in concentrated caplets – memories that will enrich your life until your final days. This is what you’ll remember and not how long it took to pay off your credit card.
I word of warning though, watch out for possible side effects: acute wanderlust.