Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Be Open to the Unexpected Benefits of Travel

      When we travel anywhere, especially to the Third World, we place ourselves in a different environment with new opportunities. Travelers can enrich themselves and their lives by taking advantage of settings they have never encountered before. A simple example of this was my first safari experience in East Africa. One couple in our small group were birders. I had never had a special interest in that aspect of nature before but I learned from them about the wonderful variety of creatures sitting on the top of trees and poles and bushes and have since noticed far more about the multitude of colors and shapes and habits of birds thus increasing my overall awareness of what goes on around me wherever I may be. When we travel now, I find myself looking upward far more often. A traveler's world expands with every trip.

      More substantive changes in one's life are in the offing as well if we are open to them. I began to photograph my adventures a long time ago. One day in a photo store where I took some slides to have printed as pictures, a woman looked over my shoulder and complimented me on my work. She encouraged me to join her camera club where I soon won a number of prizes for my photography and learned invaluable lessons about photographic technique which I sorely needed. Ever since that time, I have been an avid photographer and entered and enjoyed many competitions. More importantly, however, my photos improved considerably and brought pleasure to many interested people.

      Some years ago, I retired from education and went from showing my photos and telling my stories to friends to actively marketing myself as a lecturer. Since that time, I have had the joy of sharing my journeys with countless audiences at schools, libraries, retirement communities, museums and many other venues. I set up a web site, learned far more about the internet, and developed skills with Photoshop in order to improve the photography I have been doing. All this as a byproduct of travel.

      But there was still more. It almost goes without saying that I pick up the newspapers today and recognize the places where world events are taking place. I can envision these so much more clearly now and I reflect on the people I met there. My connections are palpable and rewarding. Furthermore, I have written a travel memoir, What's an American Doing Here: Reflections on Travel in the Third World, as well as the blog you are now reading. I am consulted about my friends' and relatives' travel plans on a regular basis and have enjoyed being helpful in my responses. All these developments have enriched my life immeasurably. Travel has been good for me--worth every single effort along the way.

Fisherman's Monument, Mazatlan, Mexico


DIY Wannabe said...

It's amazing how travel opens a whole new world. And that learning continues (like you mentioned) even after you return.
I have younger kids but when they're older, we hope to start traveling regularly too. I traveled Europe as a college student and have a long list of next places.

Wrabbit007 said...

I too am an educator, but just in the baby steps of my career (I'm in my fourth year of teaching junior high). I have been doing my best to blend travel with teaching, and have taken a group of 12-15 year olds to Europe, and am hopefully going to Peru with them next year. I would love to do what you do - travel the world, learn photography, write to my heart's content, and share my journeys. Congrats to you and how you live the life you want! Feel free to peruse my blog - I welcome comments!