Sunday, January 19, 2014

Somewhere New

Petra, Jordan.

Do you travel to the same places or always try to go somewhere new?

My last big trip was to Jordan and Israel. I had never been to either of those countries. I was with a rather large group of friends, ebbing and flowing from six to eight people, including myself, as we came and went. 

While we were planning the trip, we outlined eight cities and places in our 10-day itinerary:
  1. Amman
  2. Petra
  3. Aqaba
  4. Eilat
  5. Jerusalem
  6. Tel-Aviv
  7. Haifa
  8. The Dead Sea and Masada
That's a lot of ground to cover in 10 days... maybe too much. Plus there was talk of getting to Nazareth and Bethlehem. I started to worry. 

In the, we cut Haifa completely. We only spent about two hours in Eilat, and all I know of Amman was the superb dinner I ate and how the call to prayer echoed off the hillside at 5:45AM and into my hotel room, before packing up and hurling myself into the car by 6:00.
Makhtesh Ramon crater in the Negev desert, Israel.

We criss-crossed two desserts and sat on the edge of a crater. We circled the old city of Jerusalem and walked an underground passageway just outside it (the ancient Second Temple Road in the City of David -- not Hezekiah's Tunnel, and not the Siloam Tunnel, but a tunnel that's separate from the aqueducts). We explored new Tel Aviv and the old city of Jaffa. 

The width of the underground passage,
Second Temple Road, Jerusalem.
Why were we trying to tick so many boxes? Why did we feel the need to hit all these sites and cities?

I think it has to do with our obsession for productivity. Can you maximize your time? Are you making the most of the opportunity? It leaves very little room for relaxation.

The more I travel, the more stamps I want in my passport proving I've been to new places. But sometimes I don't want to keep ticking boxes at the expense of actually enjoying what I'm doing.

In the last few years, Boyfriend and I have found some balance between returning to places we love and going somewhere new. I've been to Spain three times now (Barcelona twice, Vigo and Valencia once, Madrid for a day), and we've taken long weekends to Montreal twice, to see more of those places and to see how they've changed since we last visited. 

For the trip to Jordan and Israel, though, we were committed to going somewhere new from the outset.

This morning, I started planning a trip to Puerto Rico. I went once a few years ago with my sister. We actually saw a lot of the islands. But the moment that trip ended, I knew I could go back, whether to do it all over again or to see the few things we didn't get to on the first go-around. 

I could say, "Screw it. Let's go to the British Virgin Islands instead," and get a new stamp in my passport. Or Jamaica. Or any other island in the Caribbean for that matter. But why? It's just as valuable an experience to see how Puerto Rico has changed and to dive deeper into the culture and nature than to go somewhere new for the sake of going somewhere new.

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