July 23, 2006

Walking the earth

At home for a week between continents, recovering from a wee parasite (I'll spare the details), and reflecting on 2 weeks of intense trekking through Morocco and Andalucia.

The sights and sounds and smells were absolutely mind-blowing on their own, but the people I spent time with have stuck with me even more--hugely insightful, impassioned, and beyond generous locals and travellers from around the world. Together they comprised a tiny sample of the brightest and most open-minded people out there, people I feel so privileged to have met and bonded with so quickly in our short time together. There were so many times when I felt surrounded by such warmth and mutual understanding...when I would be talking to someone, and we'd be trying to express something complex and so much greater than ourselves in a foreign tongue, and despite every artificial barrier that's been built between us, we got one another. No problem. It was so simple we'd be in tears--if only it were always so easy.

This quote articulated that emotion, that feeling that our interactions, and just being there, especially now--watching Beirut on TV in the old medina in Fes--that was impactful in a much larger way:

"If I were 21, I would walk the Earth. I would go barefoot longer; I'd learn how to throw a frisbee, I'd go braless if I were a woman and I would wear no underwear if I were a man. I'd play cards and wear the same pair of jeans until they were so stiff they could get up and strut around the room by themselves...So don't take the short road. Fool around. Have fun...You're not going to get this time back. Don't panic and go to graduate school and law school. This nation has enough frightened, dissatisfied yuppies living in gated communities, driving SUV's and wondering where their youth went. We need you to walk the earth, so that other nations can see the beauty of American youth, rather than seeing our young in combat fatigues behind the barrel of an M-16." --James McBride, Pratt University commencement address class of 2005

Thanks to Allie for this--and for the Morocco suggestions. She's my travel mentor :)