I explored the makeshift markets of Kolkata and found connection in the suspicious quarters of Rio. I talked serious cross-the-channel politics in London pubs and strayed off the track in Puerto Rico to discover its authentic food.
When traveling in any of these places, I always instinctively social distanced from the crowds and wandered off-the-beaten-path, even in and especially when visiting big tourist traps, to find deeper connection. The slums of Rocinha and Pedra da Gávea, or the Zona Norte in Rio showed me a truer picture of the city than any Copacabana.
The allure of getting up at the crack of dawn, jump on a crowded bus ride, and wait for hours in long lines wasn't enough to convince me to visit the not-to-miss hallowed marbles of the Taj Mahal. Instead, I wandered the neighborhood markets of Kolkata and Old City Delhi, swerving around speeding rickshaws in the narrowest of lanes, despite the nagging that I must visit the Taj and see the new and shiny sections of Delhi.
When the talk got serious, and maybe, I'll admit the drinking of local beer, at a particular London pub, I didn't walk away from an Irishman living in London who filled my ear about the his country's difficult relationship with the good old UK. We virtually closed the door of the early night drinking hole talking about how we're all connected and how we're all the same in the end. Why the wars?
What I'm getting at, and keeping with the message of my previous post, it that this novel coronavirus pandemic is reinforcing what I always believed: Travel should be about discovery and connection. The virus doesn't like crowds, mass confusion, debauchery. Neither do I.
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"I wandered the neighborhood markets of Kolkata and Old City Delhi, swerving around speeding rickshaws in the narrowest of lanes."
When did travel become a sideshow? When it become the realm of selfie sticks and casual ascents to Everest? Of helicopter drops in remote places from glamping excursions that only leave places dirtier and poorer? When did travel become about getting so wasted that I don't remember which island of the Caribbean I visited or if Bali is even an island?
Maybe the time of jetting around the world endlessly for weekend warrior type vacations on a whim is over. No more crazy Vegas junkets, in-and-out ski trips to Vale, or Paris flyovers to wait hours in line to eat a croissant at that new patisserie. Just imagine the carbon footprint of all of that.
Maybe senseless 10-hour flight business trips for a couple of one-hour meetings in Moscow, and just maybe a peek at the Red Square, are a thing of the past. What's not over is true travel. The type of discovery travel that true explorers, like you, relish.
Maybe instead of five-trips-a-year-to-faraway-places-for-weekend-entertainment-because-work-doesn't-allow-for-longer-trips, we will all start to take one, longer trip a year to places like MINUVIDA. Maybe we will take the to truly connect and discover. Maybe we even take the time to better ourselves.