Everyone reading this blog should watch the following video…
Makes you realize how blessed we truly are, to be able to travel anywhere in the world. Travel is a privilege; don’t abuse it.
2 years since Dan and I visited Saint Monica’s Children Home (October 2010) to paint walls for 5 days, I finally shared the story of the trip over on the Mothers Fighting for Others blog. Not a month goes by where I don’t think back to all the fond memories from Kenya. The whole entire experience was, well, “surreal”. That’s really the only way I know how to explain Kenya to someone who hasn’t been to Africa. It was truly an entirely new experience that’s hard to put into words. That said, I tried — head over and give it a read.
Like so many long term travelers, Earl gets it; travel is all about the people.
In a nutshell, that’s why I travel too.
When I think back to my summer in Santorini in 2010, I think about the time I spent with close friends (Dan, Chris, Ashley, and Brooke) and all the new friends I made (too many to name) over the course of that summer. Nights getting fed Raki by Dave at Atlas. Going out with the gang at Beach Bar. ATV’ing up to Oia to see the sunset with Dan. Watching the new Braveheart at the outdoor cinema at Kamara Beach — and Dan driving all the way home in pitch black with no headlight. I think of group dinners watching World Cup at Atlas.
Thinking back to my time in Kenya (& Tanzania), I always think about the people I spent time with there. Rocky. Dan. Allan. The girls. Dan and my driver we used almost daily. The kids at the refugee camp we visited. The numerous breakdowns our jeep experiences while on our safari. Our guide Livingstone leading Dan and me up Kilimanjaro.
When I think about Chiang Mai, I think back to geeky wifi sessions with Jodi, Shannon, Ian, Will, and Monica (among others). I think of the bamboo river raft and visiting Tiger Kingdom with Monica, Tom and Kristin. Dinners at Chiang Mai Gate night market. Mrs Pa and her amazing smoothies.
I could go on and on. Every single amazing experience I’ve had abroad is because of the people I met or spent time with. Sure, there are some f’ing amazing scenery I’ve seen — but that’s not what I’ll remember in 20 years. I’m not alone in my thinking; the proof is in the pudding.
What made this moment truly special was our encounter with these welcoming folks and our immersion into the lives of Dutch cheesemaking. Not only did they share with us their heritage, they introduced us to various types of cheese and offered us the penultimate moment of cheese indulgence—some of which were among the freshest and creamiest I’ve ever tasted.
In Costa Rica, I became such good friends with a hotel employee that we wound up giving him a 3-hour ride to catch the ferry home, and he wound up literally giving me the shirt off his back.
For me, then, the essence of traveling is not just ending up with jumpshots in front of famous landmarks. What’s more important is how I got there and who I met along the way. It’s my interaction with the people and my experience of the events that make my travels memorable. I may not be able to remember how many temples in the Angkor Archaelogical Complex I had visited, but I do remember the kids who sold me souvenir items, especially the girl who had exchanged her Mickey Mouse dangling earrings with mine. Those are memories I treasure, not the sites itself.
Then it was time to return to the modern world. The canoe ride back was just as peaceful and quiet. The breeze cooled our moist skin. We asked our canoe boat captain, also a native Bribri, if he ever wished he lived in a city. “Why would I want to do that?” he asked. “People have to go to the grocery store and buy food! Here, I can grow my own and not pay anybody.” I never thought of it that way. That, my friends, is the beauty of travel.
meeting new people is a very important part of my life and i’m always grateful for the new friendships. you learn so much by making new friends and inviting them into your life. while i love to learn about new places and see new things with my own eyes, it is TRULY the people from all over that i bond with and what makes it the hardest to say goodbye.
There are a number of other stories about the people you meet traveling over on Nomadic Experiences.
People are what make traveling great. That fundamental belief of mine goes to the heart of the opportunity Oh Hey World is going after of connecting you with relevant, nearby people – both locals and other travelers. If you share that belief, sign up to be in the first group to try the BETA of our product. I think you’ll like the product we’re working on. If I didn’t believe that, I obviously wouldn’t be spending my time and money building it…
Expect more stories of the power of people leading to amazing travel experiences here in the future.
I’m leaving Kenya tomorrow and wanted to share a few thoughts that have been slowly compiling over the past month.
Internet in Naorobi – Reliable wifi does exist at Nairobi thanks to the iHub! I don’t know what I would have done without the internet time I spent there; well, actually I do – not gone online much & paid a heavy premium for the time I did spend online.
Mount Kilimanjaro – I’m so glad that Dan and I decided to undertake the adventure, but I can tell you for certain I have no desire to climb another mountain in the near future. 5 days without a shower wears on you pretty quickly, especially in after hiking all day in high altitudes in which the accumulated sweat drying on your body at night – for 5 days straight – as a result of the freezing overnight temperatures.
Microfranchising – It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of microfinance, but I also think there is a large opportunity for microfranchising to help bring people out of poverty. Not everyone is entrepreneurial; so if businesses can be built that employ a significant number of people and pay them enough to keep them out of poverty on a monthly basis, then that’s certainly a step in the right direction. You can read more about my visit to Kito International over on myKRO.org.
Orphanages in Kenya – My buddy Dan and I painted for 4 days at the Saint Monica’s Children’s Home, which my friend Rocky Turner is heavily involved with via her Mothers Fighting for Others charity — and saying “heavily involved is probably an understatement of her commitment. Saint Monica’s is home to 34 orphan girls, and the space they are renting is fantastic (and cheap). The facility has enough room for all the girls, yet I heard that other Kenyan orphanages put 3 times the number of children into the same space and sleep 50 in one room. I also heard that there are still Kenyan babies abandoned regularly or left outside a church for a priest to attend to because thee mother can’t provide for the child. Clearly there is a great demand for quality orphanages in Kenya, and it was great to see & learn first hand how a great Kenyan orphanage is run (and help them out a bit in the process).
The developing world in general – I know I’ve said it before somewhere on my personal blog, but I can’t stress enough the importance of actually seeing the world with your own two eyes. Seeing poverty on television versus seeing it in real life are not the same thing — far far from it actually. Once you see how the majority of the world lives on a daily basis, your life will never be the same.