Just about everything that could go wrong did on my first major international trip three years ago. Missed connections, 10 hours stuck in the Madrid airport, stolen goods, train-worker strikes, companion tiffs, wrong turns that ended in prostitutes and a tearful realization on the phone with my Mom while in a gorgeous Italian monastery that maybe I’m not as independent as I think.
With that rational understanding of travel/self, I set out to China this weekend. My 6-year-old cousin taught me how to say “I need help” and J. has promised to spoon feed me before I starve from lack of chopstick skills. I’m so ready to go go go, but now I always travel with this in mind:
“Fear values traveling. At a given moment, very far from our country and our language, the fear and the instinctive desire to find again the shelters of the old habits, spreads all over and conquers us. That moment we burn in fever, but we are full of pores. The slightest conflict shakes our very foundations. A cascade of light brings us in front of eternity. This is the reason why no one should say that one travels for pleasure. I would see in traveling rather an exercise. We travel for our education, if by the term of education we mean the sharpening of our inmost sense, the sense of eternity.” — Albert Camus