Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Let's leave dancing!

Friends and family who've traveled with me over the years will tell you that I am the worst traveler in the world. The worst. That's why they all find it so funny ("weird," not "ha ha") that I love to travel so much and will go to great lengths to see new places and return to favorite spots over and over. (I think I know Rome better than I know New York at this point in my life.)

I have been physically ill on every mode of transport known to man since my family first drove from Baton Rouge to California when I was five years old. All of my travel companions have favorite stories that they never fail to rehash about my unfitness for moving through space and time, some of which are now semi-legendary. Just say the word "vomit" to my Dad and, much aggrieved, he'll be happy to relate how I once got carsick crossing the Mojave Desert and threw up down the back of his shirt when we were hours and hours away from civilization.

Then once I arrive somewhere, it takes me days (more and more of them as I get older) to adjust to my new surroundings and start enjoying myself. Looking back over my travel journals, I have to laugh at the predictability of my entries for the first 2 or 3 days I'm in a new place, even in Rome, as much as I love it there. "Why did I come?" or "I wish I was at home in my own bed" or "How many days before I can leave?" are phrases that repeat themselves ad infinitum.

But then the sense of awe and wonderment kicks in and I find myself marveling how I lived so many years not being in this place, interacting with these people, eating this food and seeing these colors. I am like a teenager falling in love all over again, and I drop all pretense at sophistication and become the callow teenage girl I was when I went to Paris and London by myself for the first time and began to see a world I'd only read about in books.

As the Wheel turns again, the journeys draw to their close. Because I'm lucky enough to have a life that I love and a wonderful home to return to, I'm usually ready to go back and begin processing all the new stimuli I've been exposed to. But the re-entry after a pilgrimage, and all travel is pilgrimage of a sort, is almost as difficult as the preparation and departure, both physically and mentally.

Today is our last day here in Oaxaca. I have many things still to post about, but that will come after I've returned to New York and have had time for reflection. We must now repack our bags, figure out if we have enough pesos to get out of Mexico, and begin making lists of all the things we didn't see this time but must see when we return.

Because, of course, Oaxaca is a place we have added to the list of those to return to, and we will be back. You can count on it!

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