I’ve had a busy month, but as Chicago’s winter weather promises to semi-paralize my ability to leave my apartment, I promise to write and post my Italian travel stories more often. Here is Rome 1.
On our first day in Rome, while Kay and I were snapping photos of one of the countless statued monuments, a woman asked us where we were from. We explained the unique situation: an Australian studying in Spain and her American friend decided to meet in and explore Italy together after meeting in Australia a year prior. The woman had bright colored makeup on her lips and eyelids, and a pink-lipped smile spread across her tanned face. We asked her name, and in her small voice she answered Paola.
Paola had always lived in Italy and now spends her days talking to tourists. She explained that because she currently does not have a job and cannot afford to travel, she travels in her own way through her conversations with tourists from all over the world. At her request we described what it is like to live in our respective home nations, what other traveling experiences we’ve had, and what motivated us to travel so far away from our homes.
We talked to Paola for half an hour and needed to make our way to Trastevere, so Kay, who was especially affected by the sweet woman, had me take a photo of the two of them. “Now you’ll be on my travels through Europe with me,” she said to Paola as she showed her the two of them now captured on her phone.
Paola “travels” through the momentary friends she makes in Rome, and I’m sure the fact that she is unable to physically travel abroad drives her desire to journey even more. Paola clearly loves people and learning, and these passions help fuel her desires to see more and better understand unfamiliar cultures. Paola inspired a question I began to ask about myself and those I met throughout my trip: Why travel?
I began to ask myself what I am trying to get out of this trip? Why does Kay travel? What motivates any traveler to go somewhere new?
These questions aren’t asked in a negative tone, as if to suggest that traveling is pointless, of course–I started to be fascinated by each individual motivation for one to get away from one’s home. Most of us have these motivations, but they are rarely the same. Now that I’ve returned from different “adventurecations” over the years, I know what I’ve gotten out of them, but I started trying to recall what unique circumstances and motivations compelled me to leave my home in the first place.
I was all of a sudden doing a lot of reflecting for someone who probably should have just been soaking in the marvelous surroundings.
I was reminded of the people I met on my way to Italy. On the airplane I was seated next to a bearded Italian with a buzzed head, wearing a frayed scarf, probably in his early thirties, named Stef. He traveled because he saw business opportunities. He was the co-owner of a bar in Melbourne, Australia, he said, and now he was returning to Italy to visit family before settling in Panama to open another bar.
Earlier, even, I met a student named Andie in the airport. She had been studying abroad in Italy, and was now returning to Italy in order to make her way to Ireland to continue her studies. Unfortunately, the reason she was in the Chicago airport, and had returned to the States before heading to Ireland, was because her brother suddenly and tragically passed away the previous week in Raleigh. The car accident couldn’t have been more unexpected or devastating. According to Andie, at the age of 25, her brother had already done an impressive amount of adventuring, traveling far and as often as possible. Not only does she have her own adventurous nature, but now Andie travels to honor her brother’s life and personality.
Why do you travel? was a question that I started to wonder of each person I met. On each guided tour, in each hostel.
So, why do you travel? Or, if you don’t, maybe the better question is why don’t you?