In the second grade, at the age of 8, I decided that some day I would visit Ghana.
Two years later, after winning a race with my fourth-grade classmate Steve Colbert (no, not that one) to see who could finish a map puzzle faster, I did myself one better. I decided that some day I would visit every country in the world.
In retrospect, these simple and possibly silly promises seem a bit childish. But they betray my deep-seated, instinctual need to travel.
My first trips alone were summers visiting relatives in Greece, where the other kids I met had strange habits (such as listening to awful Euro-pop). Later, on Greyhound and Beiber Tours buses between my hometown of Westwood, MA and Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, I honed my people-watching skills and explored the mystery of my fellow bus patrons. But my road to travel addiction culminated during my first trip alone to Europe…after which I eschewed grad school in favor of moving to Budapest (and then back to NYC). Since then I’ve traveled throughout most of Europe, parts of Africa and Central America, and other scattered places in the world.
Along the way I discovered that for me, stepping off a plane or bus or train in a different place is narcotic. I’m in my element when I’m the slightly knowledgeable but mostly naive foreigner with absolutely no choice but to adapt and learn, quickly: the local language, currency, geography, customs, schemes, rhythms, politics. Travel is mind-blowing, soothing, overwhelming, exciting, frightening, thrilling, wondrous…. I could sit here in my New York apartment and rattle off ten thousand adjectives, but none would properly convey what I mean. It’s like trying to explain love.
So I guess this little blog is my attempt to show, not tell.