I felt uncomfortable with privilage when I realized that by the 6th day of the new year I already had entry and exit stamps on my passport from four countries. Firstly, just to have a passport is a privilage (even though it is property of the federal government at all times and must be surrendered on demand). But to be able to use it so often within the first week of 2009 reminded me that traveling should not be in vein, but in order to seek out and accept moments of obligation. This is like when you witness something that sets off a series of thoughts which allow you to feel as if you can and should do something to help out.
To have such a series of thoughts comes more clearly if I’ve got some knowledge about the place I am traveling in. I so some of my best thinking when I am visiting new places and people, so it helps to have something to think about.
That is why I believe that most everyone privilaged enough to travel should read about where they are going, and who they might encounter. Maybe start with a map. I’ve got a buddy named Jack who taught me appreciate the knowledge that maps can tell us about a locations orientation and neighbors. I think so many trips are pre-planned and inclusive that many people no longer have to both with maps. I’ve had plenty of friends go to Cancun without needing to consult a map. Perhaps the travel company will give a map of the destination. This map is sure to be specific to the resort, tourist part of town ect. and probably won’t include the part of town where the hotel workers and day laborers live.
Besides, it is fun to know what else is around where I am visiting. If the original destination sucks then I’m not stuck there unknowing of other things to see and do. This helped out when Scarlett and I were in East Africa recently, because things are rarely described as they actually are. Here are a few pictures from that travel (you can see more by clicking on the pictures display in the right margin of the screen).
I needed to have read more about Tanzania, especially the different tribes there. Also I had no idea there were so many pre-European settlements along the East Africa coast. That is something else I would have liked to know before I got there. I also would have liked to know that the train ride from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma would last 45 hours.
This year I will read more more about where I am traveling to, should I have the privilage again, and encourage others to do the same.