Travel, it’s good for you

One of my favorite programs is Rick Steves travel programs. His experiences and the way he gets involved with locals is right up my alley. My father was in the Air Force and we were fortunate to be able to travel to Japan and the Philippines. My husband and I have also visited Mexico, Canada, the Virgin Islands and Lesser Antilles. I love to go places I have never been before.

One of the things we do when we travel in the US is to take along our National Parks Passport.  It is very cool and has introduced is to sites we would never have tried or in some cases even known about. It is cool because you visit one of the places-a national park, monument, historic site, etc., listed in the passport. At the visitor center you will find a station where you can get a dated endorsement stamp for that location and a special sticker for your passport. It cracks me up to see little humans clutching their books and racing each other to the station. I think I would be a great host for a TV program featuring the passport program. Just saying.

When I travel one of the best things to do is find a local and make friends and then you find out the really great places to have the best food and drinks, the place to mingle with the people who live there and know what the travel people don’t.  You end up having the most amazing and rewarding experience. Off the beaten path is the way to go.

Another important aspect to going local is you begin to understand the differences in culture and perspective and you can reveal yourself as well. Communication is accomplished without prejudice and judgment. Just how it should be.

We are humans, and underneath the color of our skin we are the same. No debate, no question and no argument. We are made the same with the color of our skin and shape of our eyes is based on where our ancestors came from.

For several years I worked at the University of Arizona in the athletic department. I made friends with so many athletes and it was so fun to understand them as they opened up to me. One of the African American athletes was an especially good friend. I saw him nearly everyday. We would laugh and share and we hugged when they won or lost. Once he was a passenger on a motorcycle when he brushed his leg against the muffler. He had a nasty burn that took a while to heal. At one point the scab was nearly off and the skin underneath was whiter than mine had ever been. I laughed and told him he was a latent white person! Gosh we laughed about that. When I heard many years later he had died from diabetes complications my heart broke.

I guess what I am trying to say is everything is skin deep. That is as deep as our differences should ever go.

Traveling is a great way to expose yourself to the myriad of ways we humans are the same. Our differences are because of what we are taught. There is a song in the musical “South Pacific” which says it better than I every could.

YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT by Rodgers and Hamerstein

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

-N

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