“Aren’t you afraid of being kidnapped?” asked my co-worker?
It would have been a reasonable question if I had stated that we were going to some war torn country with atrocities graphically displayed on the nightly news like some reality TV show. But I did not expect to hear that question after mentioning we were going to Costa Rica. Kidnapped in Costa Rica? Sure, it’s Central America, but it’s Costa Rica; The Disneyland of Latin America.
I am always surprised at the amount of fear many people have in traveling outside of the United States. Sure there can be dangers, but there are dangers driving to the grocery store. And then there are those that do travel outside the US, but only to stay at some sterile posh resort and only leave the grounds with a guided tour. When we stayed at the Hacienda Tres Rios last year in Mexico we experienced that. We felt like prisoners in some kind of twisted resort prison. We were very happy to leave that place. Part of the fun of international travel is getting outside your comfort zone and experiencing something new and different.
Humans, by nature, are nomadic wanderers. If that weren’t the case the earliest humans would never have left the African continent and populated Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world. So where is this desire to wander now? Where did human evolution go wrong where we are content living mindless, yet comfortable, lives? Is this really living? Modern conveniences have made us all so lazy that we no longer need to be hunter gathers. We can stay put in our climate controlled dwellings, have dinner delivered, and tune out with mindless entertainment. We have no primordial fear other than running out of beer and cheesy poofs before the big game ends. Life is safe, predictable, and boring.
When I was a kid we would play spacemen traveling to distant planets, explorers discovering new countries, and my favorite, Gilligan’s Island. We never played business professional sitting in a cubicle 9+ hours a day juggling priorities. I never remember anyone saying, “When I grow up I want to be stressed out corporate pawn.” We all dreamt of doing something fun and profound. But then we grew up and reality punched us in the face and stuffed us into socially accepted lives with meaningless jobs, mortgage payments, and shattered dreams. And the sad part, many people are okay with that.
Why do I want to travel around the world? The short answer is I love to travel. Going deeper into it, I think travel is more of an escape for me. I have always had a strong desire to go somewhere new and resettle. But I am still living in the same city that I was born in. And for nearly that entire time I have been dreaming of someplace new, exotic, and a hell of a lot warmer and drier than the Pacific Northwest. I have often heard people comment on how they enjoy their vacations, but are glad to get home. When I am vacationing someplace exotic, I never want to return. I would be perfectly happy living there with my wonderful wife and daughter. As I approach my 40th birthday I am reminded that life is too short to spend the remainder of my life in a cubicle. It’s time to shake things up and do something profound. To see what is on the other side of the horizon and to just keep going. To wander. Is this irresponsible? Only time will tell.