Being held captive in O’Hare got me thinking about all the travel mishaps I’ve had in my life and how the only thing that made them enjoyable was making an effort to enjoy them. Zig zagging on Himalayan switchback road in India while several motion sick passengers puked out their windows marked not an insufferable trip, but the first time I read Hindi, aided by a children’s ABC primer I bought at the bus stop in Dehradun. (For the record, the first word I read was CocaCola.) I remember that when we arrived at night in Paris and realized finding a hotel in summer wasn’t a given, Emily and I didn’t panic, but rather laughed at the sight of our first crack in our rock-solid plan to travel without a guidebook. A flat tire in Nowheresville, IA wasn’t a wrench in our Yellowstone road trip plans, but a chance for Diene and I to experience small town friendliness and enjoy an entire campsite to ourselves. I also remember finishing a great anthology by Seal Press, who would become the first publishing company to nudge me along in my book dreams.
I write about travel a lot in Give with Gratitude and I thought I’d share an excerpt.
Traveling alone is an act of faith. A belief that around each corner you will find something good and worth your while. The faith that when you find yourself alone and helpless, someone who can help will find you. Believing that getting lost is not a waste of time. Faith that a higher power – destiny, Allah, karma, a Lonely Planet guidebook – is the only companion you need to guide you in the right direction.
When I jumped out of the back of a share taxi on a dusty road in the middle of rural Senegal on Christmas day, I had faith that the road would lead me to Yayeme, a small Seerer village with about 80 large farming families. I had read about it and hoped it would be a nice stop on my trip to the Gambia. I had ten days of traveling left, and I didn’t expect to stay there more than one.
I am grateful for all the great things travel has brought to my life.