When I met Mike I used to love watching TV shows or movies with him and when they showed a movie location or talked about a place I was usually able to say I’d been there. Mike wanted that ability so traveling was just something that was next on his bucket list.
In the last three years he and I have traveled to four continents and over 20 countries. He now gets to watch movies and TV shows and I can see him smile when he recognizes a building or a city because he has been there. This adds a real different dimension to ones travel memories.
What makes us both sad however is when those cities or countries we have lived in make the news for natural disasters or civil unrest.
Recently there was a devastating earthquake that struck off the coast of Iquique, Chile. Iquique is at the top of my list of places to live in or return too someday. I loved our time on the beach front in this northern Chilean city. To hear of this massive earthquake that struck; to learn that six people lost their lives and that almost 900,000 people were trapped because the road into and out of the city was blocked by a rock slide, made us sad. We had a wonderful week in Iquique; not only is the city beautiful but the people we interacted with were warm and friendly. In fact our first emails were to those who we befriended in the city to make sure they were safe.
We visited Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina last year and recently the US State Department sent out a travel advisory about visiting the city due to an action of civil unrest. Receiving these warnings makes us dig a little deeper into the issue and we read more about what is happening and when possible we connect with those we met in all of these places to make sure they are okay. We read about all of these issues because our view of them and their country has been changed by our experiences in that country; we think and feel perhaps more deeply for them and their plight and our empathy runs deeper. We also understand their quest for a better life and their need for a civil uprising.
As we have been out here traveling from country to country we have also received warnings about civil unrest happening in Santiago, Chile; about the flooding in the UK, about violence in Panama, about volcanic activity on the island of Sicily, and so much more.
These countries are no longer just places on a map to us. We know these are places with more than amazing historical monuments to look at, or countries with beautiful vistas to take photos of; these are places where warm and friendly people live; places where the locals struggle to live their every day lives; places where the people are perhaps either suffering or dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, and we feel sad.
If everyone would travel to other regions of the world and met and greet and shake the hands of as many locals as possible and take the time to learn more about everyone’s culture maybe we would feel and react to issues they are dealing with differently. Our travel experiences over the last three years have therefore taught not us to be centric in our lives. We have learned that there are real issues of survival facing many people around the world. Therefore to all those we have met, whether it be a simple hello in the streets or in a lasting friendship that we have forged, to all those dealing with either a natural disaster or civil unrest we want you to know, we are thinking of you.