Travels in Tuscany: (Part Three)Why we travel

Travel is less about the places than the people we meet

It isn’t about pretty buildings or breathtaking views. Those  are window dressings to the real reasons we travel. They are stage props to the purpose of leaving the safety and security of our own lives in favor of the opportunity for growth. It is that fundamental principle that separates “tourists” from true travellers. Indeed, the tourist, by definition, stumbles from place to place as if they were in a zoo, arrogant in the belief they  are “discovering” something new. Practically no place the tourist goes on Earth is undiscovered. If there is a hotel or a gas station or a windowless hovel there it was already discovered. The tourist is simply following a trail already forged. The traveller, well, that is something altogether different.

It seems at first a little cynical. We all proclaim the desire for discovery, but here’s the rub. What is it we wish to discover truly? All that is left for any of us not employed as an Astronaut or a researcher on the frontiers of science are journeys of discovery at least as important as reaching outer space, or diving to the darkest depths of the oceans. That is the journey of self-discovery, and by that I mean a truly critical analysis of the heart and soul.

For Ana and I, the most precious discovery on any journey are in the people we meet. And when we  are lucky, truly lucky, it is in the lasting friendships and renewed awareness of the complexity and immensity of humanity that we come away with. And in that complex world the traveller must develop skills that opens the prospects for growth and self discovery.

I’m terrible with languages,  but I’ve learned valuable skills over the years to overcome that. The first lesson is that context is everything. That is, by paying attention, being humble, and above all patient, overcoming most any language barrier is a minor impediment. It comes down to this: we  are all human from the same ancestors. Languages are historical, cultural and customary, but  buried within all of them is the desire to communicate and to be valued as a person. Make the effort and pay attention and language barriers become less a canyon between people as a bridge to be forded.

The second lesson I’ve learned is that a little goes a long way. You  are in someone else’s home. Respect it. Understand that they love that home as much as you love yours. 9 words in any language will carry you a long way. That’s all, just 9 words-Yes, No, Please, Thank you, Sorry, I don’t speak…People appreciate the effort, and by virtue of simple human nature, will bend over backwards to help, or at the very least, bridge the gap.

And so, when Ana and I travel, it is  as pertinent to the trip that we step outside our lives back home, and step outside ourselves as purchasing plane tickets or having a passort. More treasured is when we meet someone new, whom we can keep with us forever. Well, not literally of course. That would be illegal, but the memory and friendship, which can only be forged between people who are equal, whose lives and history and experiences are equal in one another’s eyes. That i the greatest blessing for the true traveller. 

As we pulled into the unassuming little Hotel L’Fiorino in the heart of Tuscany that warm May evening  we could hardly have imagined the blessings that lay before us.

About 900poundgorilla

W.C. Turck is a Chicago playwright and the author of four widely acclaimed books.His latest is "The Last Man," a prophetic novel of a world ruled by a single corporation. His first novel, "Broken: One Soldier's Unexpected Journey Home," was reccommended by the National Association of Mental Health Institutes. His 2009 Memoir, "Everything for Love" chronicled the genocide in Bosnia and the siege of Sarajevo. His third book "Burn Down the Sky" is published exclusively on Amazon Kindle. It was in Sarajevo at the height of the siege where he met and married his wife, writer and Artist Ana Turck. FOX NEWS, ABC, CBS News, the Chicago Tribune and The Joliet Herald covered their reunion after the war. He helped organized relief into Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Turck has been a guest on WMAQ-TV, WLS in Chicago, WCPT, WBBM radio, National Public Radio, Best Of the Left and the Thom Hartmann show. He has spoken frequently on Human Rights, Genocide and Nationalism. In 2011, his play in support of the Occupy Movement, "Occupy My Heart-a revolutionary Christmas Carol" recieved national media attention and filled theaters to capacity across Chicago. He remains an activist to the cause of human rights and international peace. View all posts by 900poundgorilla

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