I’ve traveled so infrequently that when I do, sometimes I feel like one of those people that reads one book on a subject and then feels like they have gained some great insight or particular expertise into that subject. Like I’ve discovered some new language that millions have been speaking for thousands of years. But I’m aware I know little about travel. But there’s still something to be said for naivete and a lack of cynicism.
I like airports, particularly when I’ve cleared the hurdles that give unseasoned travelers anxiety.
I like hotels. And porters and hotel bars and hotel restaurants. I like throwing a few bucks on a pillow for the maid service to make up a room and provide fresh towels. It’s a hard job and it’s a pleasure to pay for that kind of labour.
As I was having lunch today in the hotel restaurant with a few hundred other people, I saw so many things I liked. I like seeing families that have obviously different ethnic back-rounds. It gives me some hope for humanity’s future that a black man and a Scandanavian woman can speak French to their beautiful children.
That every culture seems to love dance and music. Maybe we can’t agree on what’s good dance or good music but that doesn’t really matter.
Laughter sounds the same in every language. I’m sure crying does too but I haven’t heard any of that here besides my own. I like to think I was crying in Spanish.
Everyone seems to play cards. Maybe it’s because most of the world has grown up poor and cards are a cheap way to interact, laugh, and prove to each other that we’re more clever than the rest. I played cards with three Ukranians last night. And we laughed.
Our foods are different but as long as we’re fed, most of us are appreciative. In fact, I’d suggest, more than anything, it’s our food that connects us to home. Former Expo Vladimir Guerrero, a Dominican, moved his mother to Montreal just so she could provide the home cooking that made him feel at home while in a land that was strange to him in every other way. And every Dominican ball player on the team, and some on visiting teams, went to the Guerrero home to eat his mother’s cooking.
But when you eat the food of another culture, listen to their music, watch the way they dance or look at the colours in their dress, that’s when you start to understand people.
I may be the guy who has only read one book on a subject, metaphorically speaking. But I’m trying to read every word on every page and then sometimes once again. And it’s a picture book and an audio book and a cook book. And a history book and an atlas. But more than that, it’s a peoples’ biography.