I have always felt that travel broadens the mind, informs the soul and strengthens the character. I know that I am a much better person for the places I have been in my life - and the things I have seen. Travels to Viet Nam notwithstanding, the places I have been have all left a mark on me - an indelible impression. Each of them has colored and flavored me in their own and special way.
I remember, at age 14, the long drive across the Western U.S. to California. I remember stopping in a roadside cafe in Chandler, Oklahoma on a hot and dusty day. We walked in as a family and sat in a booth. And the waitress was a Goddess and I was smitten and totally in love. Not for the last time in my life, I had found a place I wanted to stay - this time because of puppy love. Later in life, I would find that this emotion is common when one has picked their vacation spot wisely. After all, the grass IS always greener on the other side of the fence.
I remember my first tour of duty overseas. Okinawa. Japan. The Philippines. Hong Kong. I saw some incredible places. I also saw poverty that would tear your heart out and living conditions which were indescribable. I learned, however, that people everywhere are pretty much the same - that the things which make people 'people' are the same everywhere. We all want the same thing - for our kids to have it better than we do.
I remember a trip to Ireland over Thanksgiving of the year 2000. I remember wondering how people could leave a place so beautiful. I remember, also, that the ground, though lush and green at the top, is rocky and less that fertile below. And I remembered that more than a MILLION Irish died during the potato famine of the middle 1800's and I could feel the anguish in the soul of those poor sods at the memory of the lovely Ireland they had to abandon. Some of them were my people, and I could feel them.
Now I am recently home from yet another trip. I am going to recount some of that trip over the next few days here, in my blog. I don't know what I've learned from this trip, yet, it's too soon to know. But I know it will come to me before long. But something I said to my son as we left Trinidad sticks in my mind - and it's something I would say to all of you: "Travel as much as you can to as many places as you can. Because life is too short not to."