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Final post?? I hear you thinking: is he quitting the blogosphere? No way. I am just jumping on the next stepping stone towards eternal blogging fame!
It has been quite a jump, migrating this website to a self-hosted one. Especially challenging if you have been blogging for more than a year already…
But I managed and I am proud and happy at the same time. Actually, this is a good moment to thank a couple of people.
Thank you fellow blogger Mei of Cumi & Ciki blog.
I started blogging in March 2010 only because Mei from Cumi & Ciki blog convinced me to do so. We had been batting around about traveling, ending up in me writing a guest post for her blog about our family travel to Morocco. And you know what, I think I discovered my passion for writing (next to my passion for travel and photography) right that very moment. I loved to create a story that acted as a call to action for readers: go out traveling, take your kids and travel the way travel should be. The Act of Traveling blog was born.
So thank you Mei for your initial support, I wouldn’t have started blogging without you!
Thank you my fellow blogger and friend Farnoosh Brock
After my first posts I discovered another inspiring blog, Prolific Living. No, that’s incorrect: I discovered an inspiring person! An energetic woman using her blog to help you create your very own and rich lifestyle, a lifestyle where travel plays an important part. Farnoosh of Prolific Living inspired and supported me many times (and she still does!): she learned me how to increase my writing skills, she generated new ideas when my own flow of ideas was blocked, she encouraged me to bring my blog to the next level (and the next level after that). Thank you Farnoosh, you are a great friend and supporter!
Thank you WordPress.com
Just like 17363929495 other bloggers, I believe we can surely thank WordPress.com. What an amazing blogging tool, so easy to use. Thanks for featuring two of my posts on Freshly Pressed. Without a doubt that created an impressive readership!
I have built a fabulous crowd of subscribers (through RSS, E-mail or WordPress), thank YOU! I desperately want to take all of you along to the new site. The site migration forced me to install a new subscription tool: Feedburner. This means I have to ask each subscriber to subscribe again on my new blog. But there is also good news!
I am going to make your life easier. If you are a current subscriber, I will make sure you get a subscription activation link delivered right into your very own mailbox (this does not count for RSS subscribers)
Enough said. Enough words on this ‘old’ site. It has been great staying here at the WordPress.com hotel, but now it’s time to move on. I am checking out (no, I did not take anything from the minibar). Let’s go, follow me to
Travel is an organism. Travel settles in your body. I am not sure if you born with travel genes, but let’s suppose not.
How do we get addicted to travel?
Well again, let’s suppose you are not born with travel genes. If today you are a passionate traveler like I am, you have reached that state of mind by moving from one stepping stone to another.
First you went out camping in your own backyard. Your first night not sleeping in your own room! How excited was that!? Do you remember? Lights went out in home and your parents went to their own bed. Safe behind wood, stone and glass. You were out in the dark, watching the stars, dreaming. Maybe you cried. Growing pains?
When it would start to rain you could always knock on the door and your worried parent would gladly welcome you back. But you were out there! Outdoor air all for yourself!
Then you went camping with your parents. You started to discover other surroundings, other habits. You might went abroad, hearing different languages and eating different food.
Most global travelers also had some kind of international experience with studies or research abroad. That particular stepping stone made you want to learn more about these far-away countries. New cultures, wow!
Stepping stones are your personal way to travel reformation. Stepping stones are different for everybody. They can be places you visited, people and cultures you met, and travel stories you listened to.
One of my important stepping stones was my Japanese penpal Hiromi. She lived in Kyoto and triggered my interest to learn about Japan and Japanese culture. We met for the very first time in September 1995 in a subway station in Kyoto (note: I made a terrible cultural mistake by giving her a welcome kiss…Sorry Hiromi).
Meeting my penpal in Japan!! Can you imagine the excitement and the drive to meet more people in far-away countries.
My advice: use every stepping stone that comes your way. Take advantage of the opportunities!
And after a couple of stepping stones you will get addicted. The travel virus settles in your body. Here is, finally, when the Body Snatchers jump into this story!
We have to guard our travel addiction with our lives! Our body has become a cocoon of valuable travel memories and experiences. We live to travel and we travel to live.
Don’t let the snatchers take away the travel inside you. Don’t let them make clones of you, devoid of travel emotion.
Don’t let fear guide you or let other people tell you there are better ways to spend your money!
Don’t let people tell you shouldn’t drag your children to far-away places.
Don’t believe you are getting to old for this travel sh*t.
Don’t let the snatchers get you.
Take every opportunity to be a traveler and to enrich the virus.
Kill the snatchers.
It’s your decision, your virus. You are in charge of your own story, your own travel addiction.
It might take you some time to reach ‘preferable’ levels of addiction. Travel stories cannot be created as such but they have to emerge from experiences.
But mind that moment when traveling becomes an addiction. Ignition.
My name is… [fill in your name] … and I am an addict.
Then start watching over your shoulder for the body snatchers.
This is the last post on this blog! Soon I will launch a completely redesigned website: Act of Traveling [dot] Com! This is my next stepping stone towards travel addiction (although I might have already reached that stage). I will let you know as soon as the new site is launched. See you all at ActOfTraveling.Com!
Milan Kundera once wrote: “The beauty of New York is unintentional; it arose independent of human design, like a stalagmite cavern.”
This is the 3rd post about our trip to New York City. When we wandered around the city, three dimensions of New York became very clear. Three dimensions of viewing the city: from above, from the outside and from within.
I promised this to be a photography post, so I will let the pictures talk for themselves.
But I miss a fourth dimension. An intangible one. New York is more than regular 3D. I believe many of these big cities are more than 3D. The way you experience a city like New York is something you cannot predict. You have to zoom into the city and see how it expands beyond the physical. It might sound very ‘elevated’ to some, but when you consciously try to find the soul of a city you will be surprised. You have to look up, feel and listen because there is no design. It just happens.
I was inspired to write about pattern expansion because of a post by Manuel Loigeret about expanding fractals.
The soul of a city is formed by a collection of its stories. It’s the New York Stories that make the difference, big and small. Each story covering a whole life of experiences, beliefs and expectations.
It’s that man reading a book and drinking his coffee. Gearing himself up for another day of hard work.
It’s a tourist walking Time Square having the time of his life.
It’s riding the subway and watching people. Listening to their stories, getting a small glimpse into their lives.
It’s the diversity of people with different stories that make the book called New York so interesting.
It’s that fractal that keeps expanding, the right way.
Do you feel like staying at home, rather than traveling to discover the world? Safe in your own backyard, just reading all these marvellous travel blogs. Reading and dreaming….someday I will travel too…
“Now it’s time to STOP dreaming!”
This post is all about how to overcome fears that withold you from doing the one investment that will give the most rewarding profit: TRAVEL.
Everybody loves to travel, right? It’s exotic and adventurous. But how do you deal with those fears that slowly become stronger as the travel plans become more concrete? Slowly become stronger as the departure date comes near.
What kind of FEARS are we talking about?
- Are you afraid of entering a strange world with different people and unknown habits?
- Are you hesitating to leave your child behind so you and your partner can go away for a vacation?
- When taking your children along, are you afraid they might get sick? Do you fear long-haul traveling with your children?
- Or are you saying no to travel because you fear the investment is not worth it?
All those fears are so real. So real that it might even have prevented you from traveling at all. And if that is true, I feel sorry for you. Because I know you so desperately want to go out and see the world! You want to marvel in traveling, telling all your family and friends about your time in India, the people you met in Peru or the unique encounter you had in Brazil.
I hear you. I understand travel fears are not easily dealt with. But there are possibilities. Things might change for you. But you have to work on it. You cannot marvel if you don’t take that next step.
Recently an extraordinary Travel Guide was launched. A Guide that will help you take those next steps. It is called the Fear Crushing Travel Guide, written by Farnoosh Brock of Prolific Living.
She is passionate about traveling and decided to write an E-book about how to crush all kinds of travel fears. She has tons of experience from her own trips, but wisely decided to also interview 10 travel experts. Experts on traveling with young children, on how to overcome fear of flying, on how to deal with money constraints, etc.
You can click the link below to visit the Prolific Living blog and order the Guide which has already been recommended by famous travel bloggers worldwide. Click here to visit Prolific Living.
Traveling can be part of your lifestyle, your life rhythym. Are you ready to engage with travel? Crush those fears, now. Postponing will not improve the travel experience. Be fearless.
Note: Farnoosh asked me early 2011 if she could interview me for her Fear Crushing Travel Guide. I was honored to be asked for my participation to this great project. I truly think she did a great job and delivered an unique product. I support her work for 100%, no doubts. Act of Traveling acts as an affiliate for this product.
“Did you take your kids to New York City? Wasn’t that dangerous?”
Fear is contagious. Fear of traveling to far-away places and fear of taking your kids along. But fear is unnecessary. You can easily travel with your kids, even in a city like New York. By sharing our story I willl take away your fears for sure!
This is the second part of my series about New York City. It shows you how your kids can enjoy New York to the fullest! We talked to our kids about diversity where New York City is one big crossroad of our multicultural world. This story is about Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Brooklyn, giant toy stores and the lights of Times Square.
Ease your kids
When you arrive in the city you will get overwhelmed by the excitement. That first sense of excitement is one of the greatest things about traveling. Looking at your kids, how can you let them get used to a city like New York? 4 tips:
- Let them study a map of the city
I am a map freak. Maybe a control freak, but I like to know where I am when I travel. And where we will be heading next. The great thing about letting your kids study the map, is that they get an idea of the size of the city, locations and distances. It helps them put it all in perspective.
- Buy them a hotdog and let them watch the city pass by
New York life happens on the street! Let them get used to street life and use one of the street icons in New York: the street vendor. It’s totally safe to order at a street vendor. Buy a simple hot dog and sit down. Have them look at people and comment. It’s a fun game!
- Put them in charge of the subway map.
Our daughter called herself the “Metro-Master”. She was intruiged by the coloured lines on the map and always wanted to figure out the best way to get to our destination.
Do you think the New York subway and the subway stations are a dangerous place for kids? Don’t worry, they might look old but there is nothing to be afraid of. Just look at this short video… Mind you, it will not win an Oscar for best Documentary!
- Central Park!
A great way of winding down after a full day of sightseeing is Central Park. I was truly impressed by the size, the tidiness and the comfort of the park. We watched a baseball game, enjoyed the Turtle Pond and relaxed while lying on the grass. This surely gives them new energy for another day of sightseeing (or, sadly, the return trip in our case).
Part II – Excitement for the kids!
OK, you got them all relaxed and feeling in charge! Now it is time to go out and do fun things! New York is the city of diversity. Let’s show them what diversity is all about!
We started with a boat tour to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (Tip: buy your tickets online and beforehand!). Ellis Island is not a real kids destination, but the story is fascinating. Millions of immigrants to the USA arrived at this very island, hoping to be allowed access to the land of hopes and dreams. From all over the world they arrived at Ellis Island. Many of them stayed in New York, making the city such a diverse place.
Our kids found Times Square one of the most exciting places in the city. Especially because of all the lights at night. New Yorkers call Times Square the “Crossroads of the World”.
The second day in New York was a rainy one, but that didn’t mind because enough to do on and around Times Square. Our kids wanted to see the huge Toys’R’Us store and Dylan’s Candy Bar. Add the Disney store and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant and a rainy day turns into a sunny one…
A fabulous place to show them is the Flatiron building. Famous for its shape where the apex of the building is just 2 meters (six feet) wide! I am a storyteller so I told them a bit of history about the building. They found it fascinating to know that back in the old days young men were waiting for the wind to blow around the strangely shaped building in such a way it lifted the skirts of women passing by. Barelegged spectacle!
Of course we went to see Ground Zero. Our kids know all about the planes that hit the World Trade Center in 2001. My daughter was not even one month old at 9/11, now almost 10 years ago. We sat there watching the sky, imaging those two towers… Sometimes diversity makes the world a better place, sometimes it turns into hatred. When returning we passed a small memorial.
One of the things that made the most impression was a bike tour through Manhattan and on to Brooklyn! We rented bikes at Battery Park and off we went.
We crossed Manhattan from the West to the East before crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge is amazing but also a mile long. Having bikes to cross it is much easier for traveling families.
Brooklyn is a totally different world from Manhattan. Make sure to visit the park below the Bridge for great views on Manhattan.
You might think it is too dangerous to cycle with kids in New York. Don’t worry too much. There are dedicated bike lanes (even ones without other traffic) and you can also choose to just use the Hudson or East river boardwalk.
We cycled in Bangkok and now New York and we believe it is a great way to view the city. It’s like your own hop-on-hop-off vehicle..
A last tip that I mentioned earlier on this blog: give your kids their own small, digital camera. Our son took some interesting pictures with his own camera. It helps making them more aware of buildings, people and events.
Of course there is so much more to see with your kids: the Museum of Natural History and Coney Island to name just two. And don’t forget to elevate yourself to the top of at least one of those skyscrapers: Empire State Building or Rockefeller Plaza. But more about that in the third and last post in this series about New York City.
This is Manhattan, from the ‘outside’: a massive block of skyscrapers.
Within that massive block there is one man playing his saxophone. Sound waves echoing between the skyscrapers. Some people pass by, throwing him some money. He smiles.
When you have never visited New York before, you dream of a different world by just mentioning its name. A world that never sleeps. A world so vibrant it might catch you like a whirlpool. And you know, New York is all that.
The city lives, but in a friendly way. There is more personality within these massive blocks of concretes than you might think. A man playing his old saxophone, people actively engaging in a conversation with you because they are really interested, a smile from that lady lying on the grass in Central Park, others always welcoming you wherever you enter.
Bury your head
You can spend the whole day with your head buried in the travel guide book and looking up towards those monolithic skyscrapers. But that way you would miss a lot in New York. New York is home to millions of different people. Walking around, you are one of them: a truly gigantic mix of cultures, backgrounds and futures. You feel you are part of the universe.
New York is a city where you can sense people’s lives out on the street. I caught many personal conversations by just walking the streets (I now know all about Julies divorce, Stan moving to the West coast and Melissa’s relationship with her parents…sorry guys). We experienced New York in May 2011 when the weather was great and people used every park and lawn to enjoy the outdoors. They don’t mind others eavesdropping. I believe because all New Yorkers live in the same world, their world.
You have a serious problem if you want to grasp and understand what the city is all about. You alone cannot (or it might take longer than your short visit). New York is not from you, it’s from everybody. The collective makes New York the place that so many have been and are dreaming about.
Next stop: the hidden perspective
Different cultures, backgrounds and futures. Uptown or downtown, underground is where they all meet. I love the subway. Did I mention I love the subway? To me the subway is not just an underground, it’s the life underneath. The hidden perspective. Here you can watch people thinking about where they came from and where they are heading. The subway are the veins of the body called NYC, life depends on it.
In a certain way the subway is like time travel: every subway station you come out of in New York will throw you in a different world. You walk up the steps and look up. Sometimes the sun blinds you and you have to wait a couple of seconds before the world around you becomes clear.
Soho, Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Greenwich village and I can go on and on. Names carrying a special culture, different backgrounds and expectations of the future.
Enjoy my New York blog post series!
This is the start of a series about New York City. My second article will show you how your kids can enjoy New York to the fullest! That part will be full of practical tips and sights you should not miss out on. We talked to our kids about diversity where New York City is a crossroad of our multicultural world. That story is about Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Brooklyn, giant toy stores and the lights of Times Square.
My third post will be a photography post about New York City in 3D. Call it 3 Dimensions or Diversities. It will be fun where I will summarize the different angles through which you can view the Big Apple.
Disclaimer: these views on New York City are from an European perspective where Kings and Queens rule and soccer is a way of life. LOL. Have fun!
“Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots & wings.”- Hodding Carter
I recently came across this marvelous quote. It helps me answering the question why we take our children along on our global travels.
Some families have fears of doing the same thing we are doing. Others just disagree where they think young children should not be exposed to long haul travels, extremely different cultures and the dangers of strange diseases.
The world inspires: it makes us happy and makes us cry. The worlds truth can bring us to tears where hope makes us smile.
I want our children to know the truth in order to keep their hopes and needs in perspective. That’s one of the reasons why we love to have our children encounter different cultures and different people early in life.
The world is larger than our own backyard. I agree that ‘Everywhere is Illuminated’ (even in our own home town we sometimes forget to see the beauty of things) but I also know there is so much more.
When we have accepted our own world, we step up and suddenly discover a different person. A person with the anxiety to spead its wings and learn. We need wings. With these wings we start to collect stories from around the world that will enrich us, even enlighten us. The world is turning, but if you stay at one place you never experience its velocity.
How could you not want to live a travel life full of stories of Thai hospitality, Japanese courtesy, Indian extremities, European history or American grandness?
That is exactly the gift we want to give our children: wings.
Our childrens roots grow here in the Netherlands. We believe our country is one of freedom and honesty. We have decided not to go on long-term (rtw) travels with our children. Instead we pick a new destination two or three times a year.
Roots are strong but we need our wings to make them even stronger. By traveling our children will be taught about the variety in our world (good and bad).
I am sure they will appreciate their roots as much as their wings.
Next stop: New York.
1. Traveling in a group
Many of you love to travel in a group. It’s safe, you meet nice people and you don’t have to think of anything. And true, we met some great people while we traveled with a group. But for us, group travel turned out to be a mistake. If you, like in a group, don’t have to arrange anything, you won’t get to learn about a country. More importantly, group travel witholds you from wandering off, from walking forking paths.
2. When crossing the river Nile, following a sign mentioning “Tourists”
This is our most stupid mistake. I am making confessions here, I am ashamed…
We rented bikes to visit The Valley of the Kings in Luxor. We drove back to Luxor town and had to cross the Nile. There were regular ferries, used by local people and without hardly any costs. We drove downhill on our bikes when we had to choose left or right. We knew turning right was the way to the local ferry (costs like 10 cents). But a sign saying “Tourists” pointed left. We hesitated and chose to go left. I still don’t know how we fell into that obvious tourist trap! But we did. Paid a ridiculous amount of money. But hey, it was a private tour….
3. Believing you have negotiated a good price for transport
“No Mister, I didn’t mean Egyptian pounds, but English pounds!”
We had a wonderful trip with horse and carriage in Luxor, Egypt. We negotiated a price on beforehand, according to the books. 10 pounds I believe it was, Egyptian pounds we assumed. When we got out of the carriage this guy put up his pokerface and dared to ask British pounds! We had quite an nasty argument, didn’t pay the full amount but had to give him some extras otherwise things might gotten out of hand. You will always be victim of such tourist scams. Know how to react and surely don’t let it ruin your vacation!
4. Trusting nobody
This is a FEAR component of traveling. People are so afraid of strangers approaching them. Or they are afraid to just ask strangers when they got lost.
You are a stranger in a strange land. Yes, please read that sentence again. YOU are the stranger when you travel abroad. So please do not hesitate to ask other people for help. Don’t only talk to fellow tourists, but ask locals. They are for sure happy to help you and they might even show you something that you did not find in your travel guide.
I was afraid approaching people in Cuba because we couldn’t speak Spanish. Had I known before that you can also speak very well with hands, sounds and smiles, we might have had a different experience.
5. Trusting everybody
What’s that Emiel?! You just told me to trust everybody, now you say that’s a mistake and we should trust nobody. Some kind of advice from this “travel-expert”!
Well, people are people. You always meet some who only want to make some money by ‘helping’ you. They might guide you to the factory of their cousin. You all know these embarassing moments when you said yes and ended up in some factory listening to a guy explaining (in bad, impossible to understand English) how tapestries are made. Yes, we have been there…
In the end no (physical) harm is done, you just lose some time. However, if you travel on a tightly scheduled itinerary, time is valuable and that visit could turn out to be a pain in the, well you know what.
Talking about full itineraries, here comes another mistake:
6. Planning a full itinerary when traveling with children
Luckely we didn’t make this mistake, but I would like to warn families that are on the verge of traveling the world: don’t plan a full itinerary. Don’t plan to see the whole country. Adjust to the speed of your children.
Do enjoy days without anything planned. Your children cannot absorb that much as you can, so slow down..
7. Believing you won’t get sick in India (Delhi-belly for sure!)
If you want to visit a dazzling country, one where the memories will stay with you for the rest of your life, go to India. We departed after first listening to all kinds of warnings, most of them about hygiene. If we had to believe everyone, we couldn’t touch anything in India! According to ‘them’, we had to bring our own plate, fork, knive and glass because anything else would be contaminated. But we were young and strong, thought we could do without all the advice. We believed Delhi-belly (the disastrous result of contaminated food or water, you know what I mean) was not meant for us.
Stick to hygiene rules if you want to make the most of your time (especially in India), and yes, particularly when you travel with your children. Your kids don’t like sick parents…
8. Staying in jungle lodge when family member is extremely afraid of bugs
Mistake, mistake. Spouse is quite afraid of spiders and bugs. So then why book a jungle lodge?
During the day everything looks peaceful. But then the sun sets and someone pushes “Mute Off”. The sounds of the jungle are astonishing! It’s music and at the same time hurts your ears. And yes, things start flying and crawling around. Outside and inside your cabin….
But we survived (of course) and had a great time (daytime that is). But I guess the next jungle trip will be a concrete one.
9. Second time around creates the same experience
I am not sure about this one, maybe you can help me. I don’t believe in second-time visits. You will never get to that same level of wonder you had the first time you discovered this amazing place.
Your memory of that first visit is the most valuable one. Treasure it. There is so much to see in this world that a second visit is just a waste of time. Agree?
10. Trusting your kids to watch their own back-pack
This is unbelievable. We were on our way to Bali, Indonesia. We took the bus from our house to the train station downtown. We got out of the bus and walked toward the train station. Our trip finally begun!
Just as a common question I asked my son if he still had his backpack (carrying his Ipod, Nintendo and all other important stuff for a 12-hour flight). He looked at me with guilt and he didn’t need to say more. He forgot his bag, after 10 minutes! (very) Luckely the bus stopped for a while at the train station so we could ran and retrieve his bag. Kids are just too enthousiastic and have a lot of impressions to cope with. Make sure to watch all your posessions when you leave a car, bus or train.
Maybe next time stitch it to his sweater?
Actually it wasn’t all that bad, was it? I didn’t make very big mistakes….right?
OK, now it’s your turn: tell me about your biggest travel mistake. Help other readers avoid them so only magic travel memories remain…
Serendipity is all about making fortunate discoveries by accident. When we travel, we search for new discoveries, new worlds. Travelers by heart have a strong desire to go where the road takes them, rather than carrying around a detailed itinerary.
You can just wait for serendipity to happen, but I am big promoter of using it more pro-actively. Mark Robertson introduced the term Cultivating Serendipity, that I gladly adopt for this post.
This post is not about a specific country or travel destination. On the contrary! It explains why I am such a big fan of serendipity. Although by accident, I believe you can actively use it to improve your travel experience!
Pursuing an alternative reality
I hear you saying: accidental discoveries cannot be planned. You cannot control something you don’t know will happen.
Have you ever heard of the concept of parallel universes?
A parallel universe is a separate reality co-existing with one’s own.
Now that is something to think about: there might be more than one reality!
Much is happening around you, things invisible at first glance. When you travel, you need to be aware of multiple possible realities because the actual world you experience is just one of many possible worlds. The actual world is the one you live in, the one you see and breathe. But within the blink of an eye, you can move from your actual world into another one. Passing through an invisible door.
Getting dizzy already? Having fun?
Well, this is just how I look at things and how I seriously enjoy Travel Serendipity.
Let’s look at an example. You walk this road in a place you have never been before. You look around and are only able to see what your mind can absorb. This is your reality. Then another person passes by. If you turn and start following him, you have suddenly switched to a parallel world that was overlapping with yours (for a short time though). This person will lead you to the place he lives, works or relaxes. You have found a different world.
Does this make any sense?
You will not hear me talk about scientific evidence for parallel universes, but it is fun! It provides inspiration for a new way of traveling.
Discover by accident
I mentioned in an earlier post that when we travel I always create time to go out and discover by accident. I walk out of the hotel and turn right. I have made it a smart habit to look into every alley or street that I pass. Searching for an alternative reality. I found kids in an alley playing with kites while their grandfather was watching them, an elderly couple in their store showing me how they made a living. It doesn’t have to be about discovering big things. The beauty lies in smaller things, everyday people doing everyday stuff.
I love travel writing like this, just as much as I love to dream about the concept of parallel universes.
Break through your limitations
There is so much to discover and learn, as long as we break through our limitations. As long as we dare to deviate from our path, our itinerary. I believe there is so much to discover if we just walk “The Garden of Forking Paths”.
My name is Emiel, and I am a Serendipity Hunter.
How about you?The idea of parallel universes was initially proposed in the 1941 short story titled “El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (The garden of forking paths)” written by Jorge Luis Borges more than a decade before the actual theory came into picture. Main issue in Borges’ novel was the questioning of the idea of history as a single path or linear process; posing instead the idea of history branching out in an infinite number of different directions at every point in time and space; every space-time node as the center of a system of branching or forking paths, an ever-recurring moment/place of choice with profound effects on and links to everything else.
Last weekend I visited my beloved grandmother. She is 94 years old and can barely walk. But she can talk and loves to share some stories. I decided to ask her about traveling then and now.
“My dear grandmother, tell me about your travel experiences.”
She would have loved to travel, but her husband always had serious obligations in the local church. She lived in times when the church was still basecamp for much of the local community. All her life she lived in a small town with not more than 1000 inhabitants. Her view on the world was very different from ours right now…
She traveled outside of the Netherlands only once: to Lourdes, France.
Lourdes is a town where millions of Catholic pilgrims go to each year. In 1858 a young girl, Bernadette, claimed to see Maria, mother of Jesus. Since then, many people (mostly with serious ilnesses) go there for in the hope of getting cured. For her this was the travel of a lifetime!
“My dear grandmother, what country in the world would you have loved to visit? “
Indonesia was the only place on her wish list. Her nieces were on a missionary quest in Indonesia and she loved reading their letters. She would have loved to see how the country looked like: the mountains, the rice fields. She didn’t get a chance to do so. Traveling by boat from Europe to Indonesia and back would take her months!
“My dear grandmother, what do you think of us traveling the world? “
She thinks it’s crazy how far we travel with our children. She supports it to the fullest because she knows traveling is our passion. Her world is smaller than ours and it is hard for her to understand what it is like to walk around in such a different part of the world.
When we mentioned New York City as our next travel destination, she looked at me and spoke the already famous words: “My Dear Emiel, This Time I Cannot Join You…”
“My dear Emiel, traveling to all these far corners of the world, it’s crazy. It’s a mad world today..”
Indeed grandmother, but maybe we actually need these travels to escape from our own mad world…