Ready to Pack My Bags

I want to travel. 

Humans crave new experiences, right? It’s in our DNA and no doubt why, 3.2 million years ago, Lucy (the human-like ape—or ape-like human?) and her cousins and uncles and aunts walked erect on two legs instead of four—the better to see over the next hill to the horizon so far away.  And with our melting pot origins, our American story stuffed with immigrant characters, one would think our DNA would be saturated with wanderlust, our national character defined by the urge to stand taller, to build bigger towers, to fly higher in order to see what’s way over there. And it sort of is—for all but about 11% of us.

In 2018, OnePoll did a survey that showed 11% of Americans had never left the state they were born in. We can guess at the biggest reason why, since travel isn’t free and I should count my blessings every day that I still have a good bank of frequent flyer miles and a little bit of cash to spare. Travel is how I try on different lives, wearing a Roman life in a piazza for a few days of watching kids kicking balls and lovers strolling hand-in-hand in the twilight of an Italian sun. It’s how I pretend I’m Swiss for an afternoon on a Alpen hike, mooing back at the brown cows with their clanging bells and saying “Hallo” to the Swiss elders, who trudge on and on as if they could hike forever, while I’m taking a much needed rest on a rock. It’s how I see if another life might fit me, even if it only proves that I’m most comfortable in my Midwest jeans.

I want to travel. And so today I’ll read my Rick Steves guidebooks, watch some YouTube videos, and daydream about the places I’ll go. But I might as well share a few pictures as well.

April, 2022, a trip I took with my sister, Bobbi. This is the 16th century Hotel Casa del Capitel Nazari in Granada, Spain. Gracious balcony walkways overlook a central open courtyard, with heavy oaken shutters opening to the view from the rooms. I lay in bed our first night in this hotel while imagining the ghosts of 16th century ladies flitting from the rooms to the atrium railings and looking down to the courtyard below, trying to catch a glimpse of the suitors who come to call. What lives they must have dreamed of.

The famous Tio Pepe sign in Puerto del Sol, Madrid, just a few steps from Hotel Europa, our home away from home for Easter weekend in Spain. Thank heavens for my bad ear, because I buried my good ear in my pillow and slept like a baby those nights above the busy street. My sister was—shall we say?—not so lucky.

Notice the formidable fencing? My friend Pam and I passed this way in late June, only a few days before the Supreme Court released the Dobbs decision overturning Roe vs Wade. Small groups of demonstrators were already out in the street behind us, although most of them were evangelicals praying for the ruling to come down as it did. On the other side of the street, enduring the boredom probably nobody promised her in journalism school, was a reporter just patiently waiting:

And the next day, with even more demonstrators gathered, we found this wise man:

Such good advice. Maybe those evangelicals can pray for that as well, that we all just stop hating each other for awhile. I’m in on that prayer.






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