Why Travel? Why Live?

Why travel, and spend money that could otherwise be spent solidifying a home base? Especially, why travel to places remote from what you know and place yourself in potentially uncomfortable and destabilizing situations, where you don’t know the language well and where there aren’t established tourist traps and familiar corporate franchises and resorts to squirrel away into?

I’m speaking of course about going to Colombia, a destination that makes most Americans express dismay and shock that you would even think of venturing to (thanks to our sensationalist and terrorist driven media). I’m writing this not only to remind myself of why I want to go there, and why I love to travel, but also for my beleaguered girlfriend, who is perhaps not sure why she is accompanying me other than for the reason of making sure that I don’t run away with some random colombiana.

The reasons why I love to travel are really quite simple: I love to dance to different music, drink different drinks, eat different food, see different environments, and meet different people. So when you travel with me, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing: enjoying a new and different culture. I’m not very interested in seeing monuments or ruins or museums. I’m not very interested in snapping photos of myself standing in front of panoramic viewpoints. Essentially, I travel because I want to know what it is to live. And part of how I gain that understanding is by exploring how other people are living: what makes them alive, what brings them joy, what makes them them.

I don’t know where my life is going. I don’t know what career I can fit my attributes into. I don’t know where I want to settle down. I don’t know any of that, but I do know that I want live my life as fully as possible, and explore myself as deeply as possible. So to me, traveling to Colombia is a form of determining my future. This is just as viable to me as studying for the GRE and applying for grad schools. I don’t know where it will take me, but I do know that it will change me, and that that change will determine where I will go next.

Colombia, despite what the scars of narcoterrorism and political corruption have wreaked, contains a beautiful and passionate people that I want to get to know. It contains a land so varied and beautiful that it seems impossible to fit into one small country. It contains salsa, vallenato, and cumbia musics. It contains some of the best coffee in the world, and Carribbean, Andean, and Amazonian cuisines. The people arguably speak some of the most well annunciated and easily understood Spanish in South American, which means that I can bone up more on my slim amount of Spanish speaking capability. Furthermore, the one cousin I have in this world is a native colombiano, growing plátanos y café orgánicos.

In these strange times many of us feel displaced, without history or tradition or identity. So we must seek whatever connections we can find that will tie us into a true sense of family, sense of community, and sense of time. I go to Colombia to know these connections, to rediscover humanity. My girlfriend comes with me because we are family. Together we go because we don’t know one another nor ourselves completely. We go to find our place in this disconnected, fragmented world. Sometimes one must travel far from home in order to understand just what home really is; far from normality to know what normality really is; far from self to know what self really is.

We travel far so that we can come closer to where we are truly from.


Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

9 thoughts on “Why Travel? Why Live?”

  1. I’ve been to Colombia and liked it. A friend was recently there and LOVED it. People are friendly, the nightlife is vibrant and, what most stood out for me, the natural resources and the food are awesome. Just be mindful of crime, especially if you go to the bigger cities. Good travels.

  2. travelling is one of the easiest outlets when we try to make a escape of our everyday lives. …and to be able to breathe some new air could possibly mean a good way of starting up…

    you’re good as what I can see, i’m sure it’ll be easy for you to move on from where you are now.

    I added you to my blogroll I hope you don’t mind.

  3. All the reasons you just described as to why you travel, I applaud and agree with entirely. I’m always hearing “why do you want to travel so far away!? there’s plenty of places closer to home to visit!” and you’re right. Sometimes you do have to travel far from home in order to understand what home really is.

  4. As I read your post, I felt like I was writing it. I don’t think i could have put it together as good as that, but the feeling I know. I traveled from Europe to Syria to experience the life here. It’s something else, not like anything back home and surprisingly, I had no problem with it. I wish you all the best on your trip.

  5. Amen. It’s the reason I’m currently living in South America and loving it. I quit my job in the States to experience life, once again, outside my own. I live for this. If you’ve already traveled, I hope you enjoyed it! If not, best wishes for an incredible journey.

  6. Ditto! Aptly said! We all have our own reason for all our journey in life may t be a few meters or a thousands of miles.

    I guess what i love about travelling, the way it crumbled certain stereo types that our core society fed to our consciousness throught out our lifetime..

    Travelling has give and i guess others to see the different side of the coins, another corner of thoughts, analyzing a process in different angles, letting go of what i thought was real, and knowing another truth!

    But the most important thing i have learne so far: Beyond the color of our skin, the height and shapes of our nose, the strutures of ours eyes WE ARE ALL THE SAME! Made of the same flesh and blood it just that our brains are wired differenly! Must be the water! ;)

    Enjoy ur journey! Hope u get time to explore my ASIA!

  7. Travel is a large part of my job since I work with some of major travel magazines in the US.Most of the time I stay within the United States because there is so much I haven’t seen nor have the people that read the magazines or look at my website and wonder where the photos came from.I guess it’s great to say that you’ve been there and done that,but it’s also the great state of mind that you achieve when you’ve traveled the road less taken.

  8. My life consists of traveling and living in other countries. I’ve just now started a blog of my own and am in touch with a well known author to contribute my knowledge of daily life as an expat here in Seoul, South Korea but also my years spent living in Paris, France and Gothenburg, Sweden. I may be older than you but now when people ask me what I do for a living, I say travel. I hope to actually write about my own experiences and have them published or become a travel writer. Traveling and earning a good living doing so is all that I’ve dreamt of doing. Travel on!

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