The Tourist Story. The aha! again.
Travel the world and the seven seas…
But what for? Can you not stay home on your comfy sofa? Why travel? Why go far away?
‘What’s in the travel hat?’ someone once asked me.
It’s like asking someone, ‘What’s in the conversation with the unknown man or woman?’
What’s the point if you’re not going to meet them again?
Well, what if one journey was to change you? What if a single moment opened the right door and you could move forward? What if you need just one word to connect the dots and make sense of life?
It’s the journey. It’s the ‘aha!’ moments; it’s the dots we connect as we look back.
It’s the feeling you can’t describe, the butterflies n your stomach, when you fly back and think, ‘How lucky I am!’ Try it. It’s addictive. It keeps coming back.
The Tourist Story.
New York was my long-awaited city trip.
So, the weather was shit; so, I was exhausted and ‘so…’.
I could have complained all day long.
And I could talk now about how everything was difficult, how I’d decided never to travel like this again. Just because the weather was shit. But no…
The day started ordinarily enough with a taxi ride and it finished in the same taxi. It’s what’s in between, it’s the indescribable butterflies, that will make me travel again.
New York. 2.50 am. I get up. 3.30, the tour taxi picks me up; the driver is a bit rude, I mean he’s just not very talkative, he could say a bit more, no? Maybe he could tell me some New York stories and so on, he knows I’m a tourist, hungry for local rumours, but no, he does not give a shit. He drops me at the airport and snarls: ‘I’ll be here at 4.30pm when your flight from Buffalo lands. I’ll be here.’ Okay, I think. Bye! I go through security. Have a Starbucks and a US pizza for breakfast (consumer habit s never die easily! Yes, I am gluten free (usually) so please don’t pick up on the inconsistency.) Then I fly.
At Niagara Falls the weather was crap; from the three main ‘view’ points I could barely see the Falls. But you know what – who cares? Is it all about the Falls? I’ll tell you what that day was about and it wasn’t the Falls: it was the evening and maybe something else. Sure, the Falls were great (at least they seemed to be, behind the massive amount of fog), but I definitely preferred the Icelandic Gullfoss fall, which I was able to actually see! Never mind. No regrets.
I was back from Buffalo at 4.30. The driver was there. I said, ‘Hello.’
He said, ‘How was it?’
‘It was all right,’ I said. ‘You know.’
And I asked, ‘How was your day?’
‘Yeah, was okay… just slept, did not do much…’
I said, ‘So, where are you from?’
‘I had a flatmate from Colombia. She used to make yummy soup with plantain and avocado!’ (The memories were back in my head). ‘She used to buy the corn bread … I can’t remember the name… flat, white, corn bread… she used to eat it for breakfast…’
And then he said, ‘Aaah, arepa!’
Of course! I saw the smile on his face, the smile you get when you think of your mum’s home-made food. Aaah, arepa … Sure…
I saw the memory of home on the driver’s face. The ice broke. He said, ‘Yeah, arepa.’ The smile broke through the rudeness that had clouded his face and opened on warm immigrant memories. ‘Colombia… but you know, I don’t go home so often any more…’ And so, he told me his story. The rude cold face was gone…
That’s my travel point.
The stories you hear, the stories that touch your heart… the dots you connect when you look backwards. The people in your life that were there for a reason, a season and maybe not a lifetime. Travel. See the world. Hear the stories. Feel that moment when ‘it all makes sense’. It wasn’t about the Falls this time, it was all about the story. It was all about connecting the dots.
Arepa. An old friend. Today the key to the conversation that otherwise would have not had happened.
A conversation that connected that day to one dot from the past. The same dot connected me to the conversation, which without it would not have happened. One word can change your world, your perception, your response; one word can change a day and the story you tell about it.
So, the driver told me his story, then talked about New York City – the bridge, the places we were passing, the film screenings taking place there and there, all as he drove me back to Manhattan. The one word, arepa, opened the fall to the story. The story touched my heart, gave me one more dot to connect to life’s journey. It all matters, the little happenings that at first seem meaningless, this one random day, helped me connect one more dot. When it all matters, those little moments are needed in life like the pinch of salt on your favourite meal.
Love life. The dots connect as we move forward. No regrets. Keep your memories of people who were there for a reason or a season and sometimes they will change you for a lifetime.
Travel the world and the seven seas cos everybody’s looking for something to connect the dots.
Keep going. Love life.