For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by travel. When I was a kid, there were some railroad tracks behind my house. A train came on the hour every hour. I was always out there watching those trains.
When I was six years old, my uncle Robby had just come home from being on the island of Guadeloupe for a month. He had been there working on an archeological project for college. He had so many exciting stories to tell about his experience. He brought me guava jelly from the island and cooked me plantains like the people there did. I had never seen someone look so enthusiastic and alive as he did when he told stories about that place. One day, I went missing for a bit and my mom came looking for me. She found me there, back near the train tracks with my little backpack on. She asked me what I was doing. I said, “I’m going to Guadeloupe.”
My grandmother’s cousin Hugh was a world traveler. He would come to her house for a visit, just once every couple of years, and we would all have dinner at the house, and he would show us slideshows of his travels- hundreds of photos of places like Alaska, France, and Mexico. He loved sharing those pictures with us and telling us his stories. The pictures and stories went on forever. I remember looking around the room and seeing everyone yawning and nodding off. They were really suffering. But me, I was hanging on every word. It’s just something about how someone comes alive when they talk about something they love. Their eyes light up and they become like a kid again. The same thing happens to me now when I recall my travel experiences and look through my photos.
When I was growing up my family didn’t travel much. We did some beach trips here and there, but the only trip I really remember was a trip we took to Texas. My grandmother lived there with her husband who was a game ranch foreman. For a kid, this place was like a dream. There were so many animals there- horses, peacocks, deer, buffalo, and ostrich. We would get in the back of the pickup truck and ride around the property. I can still see those buffalo chasing the truck just feet away from us. We went fishing. We walked to the top of a mountain. We went to the horse races. We also took a day trip down to the border town of Acuna Mexico, where we walked around the shops and ate authentic Mexican food. I remember that it was so hot, my plastic sun visor melted in the car. I remember how my grandmother and her husband would slow dance together in the kitchen. It was the first time I had seen romance. This ranch was like paradise to me. I was very young and shouldn’t remember any of this, but I remember every detail even now.
In 1998 when I was a sophomore in college, I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Spain at the University of Salamanca for 6 weeks. I lived in an apartment with another American student and our host mother, Maria. She showed us around her house- she showed us how to turn on the shower, how to lock the door, and I understood absolutely nothing but I smiled and said OK. I would go to Spanish classes in the morning during the week. On the weekend we took trips to other cities- Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Pamplona for the San Fermines (also known as Running of the Bulls), Barcelona, and Palma de Mallorca. This was where the real magic started for me. It was the first time I had a taste of complete freedom to explore and do whatever I wanted. Sometimes after class I would just sit on the steps of some building, eating ice cream and watching people walk by. Other times I would go home and have a nice long chat with Maria, usually about how I need to stay away from Spanish men. I would go out at night to the bars with the other Americans and meet people from all over the world. Brazil won the World Cup that year, and I remember that night all these Brazilians came out of nowhere and were celebrating in the streets of Salamanca. I would come home late and try to get some sleep while motorcycles zoomed by my open window all night.
By the end of my trip to Spain, I knew that travel must be a big part of my life. I would do whatever it takes to see as much of this world as I can. I have a serious case of wanderlust that has more control over me than I’d like to admit. Sometimes it lies dormant for years at a time, but it always creeps back up eventually.
I will be traveling over the next few years and will write about my experiences here. I have not written in a long time and am certainly not a good writer, but I hope to improve with practice. I just hope to document my trips for myself, share them with you, and perhaps inspire you to do some traveling of your own. I hope you enjoy reading about my travel memories and sharing in my future adventures.