Sunday, September 27, 2009

Back to Reality

I changed my mind. I have decided that the itsy-bitsy speedo-like bathing suit on Brazilian men is actually pretty hot. Only in Rio de Janeiro do they - and can they - wear it oh, so well.

Shameful exploitation. Sue me.

I have also changed my mind about Rio. It really is the Cidade Maravilhosa: a gorgeous city constantly at play, its people phenomenally kind, generous and welcoming to a foreigner like me. I am happy to say that with just 2 days of (finally) brilliant weather, my high expectations about Rio were met. Funny how everything looks better when the sun comes out.

Now, as I step aboard American flight 452 bound for Boston, I would like to send a special shout-out to all the kidnappers, hijackers, terrorists, rapists, thieves, muggers, pick-pocketers, scammers, con-artists and drug-dealers who left me alone during my travels. Before setting off I was feeling pretty scared of all of you. Thank you for letting me off the hook and passing me by. You have my utmost appreciation.

It would be easy to think of this flight home as heading "back to reality". But throughout my traveling life I have come to understand that just the opposite is true. To me, it doesn't get much more "real" than landing in a foreign village and having no clue where I will sleep that night; or driving past a slum filled with barefoot kids and swallowing my guilt for having just bought another pair of shoes; or searching for a functioning phone and a calling card so I can check in with Grandma; or sharing a filthy shower with 30 young backpackers and their pubic hairs; or trying to explain to a pharmacist exactly what is wrong when we speak two very different languages; or carefully eating around the bits of pork because in this particular country, "vegetarian" includes chicken, seafood, turkey - pretty much everything but beef - and I have no idea how or if to ask for what I really want; or constantly carrying around a wad of toilet paper in my bag, knowing that it would be a rare luxury to find any in a public bathroom... that is, if I am lucky enough to find a public bathroom at all.

You may disagree, but I don't think of this past month as a "vacation." Rather, to me it was just another (albeit very exciting) slice of the life I have built for myself. And it is a life I thrive on! Traveling tests me. It challenges me. It takes me out of my comfort zone and sets me on a path that requires and demands flexibility, spontaneity and one very open mind. Traveling reminds me of all that exists beyond my relatively neat and tidy world. For all of these reasons, I travel. And for all of these reasons, I am already contemplating what and where might come next.

Hey Evan, can you spin that globe for me once again?

1 comment:

  1. That was so well said Emily and I can so relate to your triumphant journey! Welcome back to the states - we must catch up soon!