As I was reflecting on enriching elements of the past 40 years, the subject of travel came to mind numerous times.
‘Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.’
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things, cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.’ Travel Quotes
When we visited Tunis, Tunisia…we relished the, obvious love and respect that our tour guide had for America.
The ethnic and religious prejudice that many in our country exhibit for Muslims…was not shown us, conversely, because we were Americans. On the contrary, we were treated with respect and offered homemade cakes and tea and made to feel at home in Tunis.
Our first evening in Rome, Italy, we were welcomed as if we were, special friends and members of the family, as our waiter prepared us, ‘his special pasta dish’, and it was delicious.
When we left the ristorante our happy server followed us into the street and beseeched us to return, again, and he would take care of us, personally. We assured him that we would…and we did…more than once. He even served us his finest Grappa, ‘which is a pomace brandy and is 35% to 60% alcohol by volume (70 to 120 US proof).’ Wikipedia
When we visited Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, there were more Japanese school children looking at the exhibits…that Americans.
In Florence, Italy, we found such a wonderful ristorante that we had a half dozen meals there. The pace was leisurely, or what we Americans would call slow, and the focus of the diners was on the wonders of the food and the fragrance and body of the drink and the joy of the fellowship and friendship.
The pleasant and un-hurried pace of our French neighbors in Paris, for the three days and nights that we visited, was refreshing and calming and peaceful. Friendly greetings are important to the French. Many Parisians are accompanied by their dogs and the elderly are not, defeated, by the vagaries of age.
When we visited the island of Aruba we took a boat, that had a glass bottom and windows to enable the viewing of the sunken ships and treasures and the aquatic life in the Caribbean Ocean. The Dutch tour guide renamed me Papa Illinois. She regularly endeavored to secure for me the best view of the sunken ships and aquatic life…to the visible consternation of the other passengers.
In Nice, France, our friend Margo, invited us to a gathering of authors. It was a lovely evening that was conducted by well known author, Patricia Sands. We felt included and welcome.
In Edinburgh, Scotland I helped a dignified Scottish man to his feet, from his wheelchair, to facilitate his ordering his dinner at a restaurant. In the few minutes that I spoke with this gentleman it was manifest to me how wonderful the people of Scotland are…through his kindness and generosity.
I attended a business meeting with my friend Jeff, that was near York, England. A lady enquired of me, ‘Are you alright?’
I thought that she was referring to a terrible cold that I had contracted. I later found out that this is a typical greeting in the United Kingdom.
The Brits that I met that evening were so lovely and kind and one even told me that I reminded her of the American Actor Tom Hanks…especially when I spoke. I often tell people that…to this day.
The mistaken belief that people from other countries are bad…or failing in some manner or all wishing that they could be Americans…is a concept that is hatched from a lack of exposure to others and learned bias.
Most people that you meet around the world…are friendly and inviting human beings that, often, have different cultures that are much older than the United States and that are based in history going back for thousands of years.
Instead of building walls we need to build longer tables to sit down and break bread with our fellow human travelers.