02 Jul Travel Excursion Adventures
Traveling to places unknown can be your greatest adventure and where you find the greatest growth. As a young adult, funds were always tight and travel seemed to be an out-of-reach luxury. Obtaining a house, car and basic needs were the priorities and travel never seemed to make the cut. After all a house and car were material goods to be counted. What would I possibly have after a trip? Just a bunch of dirty laundry! Au Contraire! I learned the value in the adventures of traveling, slowly, each time I allowed myself to go someplace new and different. I would look back upon each trip with profound meaning. Each new experience taught me something special and I captured memories that will remain with me forever. Travel is like an education and indeed is an education that cannot be found in the conventional classroom. When I finally realized this, I vowed to myself that I would take at least one domestic and one international trip a year. I have been fairly true to that promise ever since and never a penny seemed wasted on these adventures; they all have something to teach, even when plans don’t go as smoothly as expected.
On a recent amazing vacation to the Dominican Republic, my husband and I took a couple of inland excursions with a small group of people. On our first trip, to Altos de Chavón—a replica 16th century Mediterranean village, we boarded an old school bus converted for tourism complete with a thatched roof. Very few aboard spoke English, mostly Spanish and German but the guides were amazing in their grasp of several languages to keep all aboard informed. We hailed from all over the globe. The couple across from us spoke Spanish and lived in Chile but we had a nice conversation with them using our cameras for photo explanations, my limited Spanish and google translator.
A young woman from Austria was aboard, perched in a wheel chair due to an automobile accident, that left her paralyzed from the waist down 10 years earlier. She traveled with a very dedicated friend. But many other offered their assistance with her loading and off loading of the bus or uneasy travel. She didn’t need much help. She was strong, confident, independent, but not handicapped. Although she spoke German, her English was great and we enjoyed several conversations with her and her travel companion.
There were others from Germany and Argentina behind us enjoying amusing conversations with those around them. We saw a small section of the island and the impoverish busy towns with small motorcycles as a main form of transportation. A visit to a local school had every age from infant to high school in one compound. This country is very poor and depends on tourism to bring them a few extra dollars to help with the necessities. Observing our surroundings as we drove was key to learning and enjoying our journey, not just the end destination.
This bus was full of humanity, free of boarders, politics, and prejudices. We were people from all over the world enjoying each others company. On a riverboat cruise later in the trip we drank rum, again, (we did a lot of this on the excursions), danced to the Latino music and conversed more as we gently glided down the river. The return bus trip was just as interesting as we took in the differences in culture, climate and topography along the way.
However, there was one couple that I felt a little sorry for. Not because they were poor, or handicapped, but because they were missing the true nature of our excursion. As we traveled on the bus, I watched as both of them, deeply engrossed with their smart phones. One was reading a book while the other played video games. They weren’t conversing with each other or others. They weren’t looking out the windows. They weren’t smiling and laughing like everyone else on the bus. What they were engaged in could have been done in the confines of any small room. I love my phone for the features it offers but I’d never trade it for the opportunity to experience real life! So many have stopped talking or have never learned to art of conversation. Sometimes the best place for these appendages is stowed away deep in our pockets and purses, or maybe even left behind locked in the confines of the safe.
Traveling allows us to see that we are all very similar in many ways but our differences is what makes us special. It gives us the opportunity to truly be thankful for the abundance we may have, be it ever so small or large. Broaden your horizons and visit somewhere special, but do it with all your senses turn on. Seeing the grandeur of the world is humbling and so isn’t being grateful to have a house to call home when the trip is over. If you haven’t yet, it is time to budget travel into your lifestyle!
A few ideas for volunteer vacations:
If your love animals look in Best Friends
If you are looking for trail maintenance, restoration of wildlife habitat, collection of native plant seeds as well as a variety of other important tasks check out REI Volunteer Vacations .
If you are looking to travel abroad and volunteer look into Discovercorps.
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