This is about saying thank you: why we do it, the ways we do it, the cheapening of it, the deepening of it. And why, when you’re traveling, it’s one of the most important words to know in the local language.
Thank you. For travelers, it’s no wonder those words are among the first our guidebooks suggest we learn. With such a simple expression, satisfaction is affirmed, respect is underscored, roads of goodwill are paved and we are bound to one another just a little bit more than we otherwise might have been.
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I turned 40 yesterday. Yep, I’m almost hesitant to admit it. Almost. There are days where I’d like to think I’m suspended permanently at either 23 or 33. But that’s not the way time, this construct we’ve created to capture the constant state of change in the world around us, actually works.
“What have you learned over these years?” a friend asked in light of the occasion. Continue Reading »
A few ideas on how walking up a big pile of volcanic rocks in Africa can teach you something about life.
For some, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is another check box on a “to do” list. For me it turned out to be a journey — in its own way, an epic exercise in achievement.
Like any journey of significance, themes emerged. Somewhere beyond Kilimanjaro’s snow-patched Uhuru Peak, I learned and relearned some lessons that resonated beyond the mountain-climbing task at hand. Continue Reading »
“Wait, isn’t your life one big vacation?”
I realize that we, as travel bloggers, do our bit to perpetuate this myth by posting fun updates and photos on an almost constant basis. While all these experiences are true, there are also unglamorous bits, challenging stuff that goes on behind the scenes.
So here’s a bit of the honest truth: I’m tired. Actually, I’m exhausted. Continue Reading »
Early last week, I was about to write about fears and the process of facing up to them. I would talk about traveling to places that once frightened me, meeting and interacting with large groups of new people, and jumping out of airplanes. Then, I would channel all those fears known and met through a more recent apprehension I’d tackled: riding a motorbike.
I would ride off into the sunset and deliver a life lesson about what a great feeling it is to overcome fears, to do something that scares you.
And then I crashed. Continue Reading »
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been uploading the remaining photos from our travels through India and Nepal in 2008 (This New Year’s resolution, if you’re wondering: NEVER EVER allow ourselves to get this far behind on photos.)
Experiences, emotions, and even memories of certain smells came back to me as I added labels and descriptions.
Sometimes a story behind a photo really stays with you. While sifting through our images from Udaipur (a terrific town in the Indian state of Rajasthan), I came across this photo of a girl we’d met in the market there. In some ways, it looks like so many of our other photos of children and people in India – colorful, human, evocative. But to me, this image carried a story — and a lesson.
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Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.
–- Carl Sandburg
“Are you visiting Tuscany for your honeymoon?” Lorenza, our wine tasting hostess at Avignonesi winery, asked over a swirl of 2007 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
“No,” I laughed. “We’re actually here for our 10th anniversary. We were married just down the road in Pienza in 2000.”
Even as the words came out, I thought: Ten years? Really? Continue Reading »
Andy has been a street performer for over fifteen years. He’s originally from Britain, but he’s called Berlin his home for the last four of those years. We watched his show at a festival in Berlin’s Westend neighborhood this past weekend. In his performance, Andy combined juggling, balance and slapstick – all suffused with his dry British humor. His finale: fire juggling on a tightrope held by members of the crowd.
While I enjoyed the wit, the feats, and the crowd reaction, it was a post-performance chat with Andy that really left an impression. Continue Reading »
Say you moved around when you were growing up, or maybe you were raised in one place but moved away and frequently changed locations as an adult. Then you take a trip and someone asks you, “Where are you from?”
How do you answer? Continue Reading »
I am not a linguist, so when people find out that I am conversant in five foreign languages (French, Estonian, Czech, Russian, and Spanish) – most of which I’ve picked up on the fly instead of through formal study – they often ask me how I do it.
I don’t have a “get rich quick” secret for learning how to speak a new language. It can be challenging, humbling, and frustrating. So why do it?
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