Wanderlust. Webster’s definition of this word is a “strong desire to travel.” This is me. I’m barely back from a trip, and I’m thinking about my next great adventure.
This desire to travel to far off places began in 1989, while living in Buffalo, New York. I was fresh out of travel school, and eager to get my foot in the door anywhere I could. I walked into a small, family owned agency and was hired on the spot. How lucky I was! I was going to travel the world!
And travel the world I have.In the almost 30 years since then, I have visited many of the most amazing places in the world. Some places have brought me to tears, either from their beauty, the people I have met or the horrific acts that may have occurred there. Other places I visit, I can’t believe I’m really there, because it is one of those places most people only read about. I realize how lucky I am, and am forever grateful everyday. Traveling not only makes me a better travel agent, it makes me a better person.
In conversation, people ask me all the time….where is your favorite place? That is easy I say….India.India is awe-inspiring, thought provoking, inspirational, and spiritual! This past June, I was lucky enough to visit for my second time, and I had my 18 year old son with me. We had an adventure of a lifetime, as we traveled through many different areas and regions of the country. We traveled to Amritsar to visit the beautiful Golden Temple to learn about the Sikh Religion, and then on to the ancient city of Varanasi, which is considered the holiest city in the world to Hindus.
We sat and watched an evening border ceremony between India and Pakistan that included music, dancing and quite a bit of enthusiasm from both sides. We were so close to the Pakistan border that my cell phone hooked up to a Pakistan cell tower and displayed a message that said “Welcome to Pakistan!”
We stayed in a palace hotel in the middle of nowhere, where monkeys, goats and wild pigs roamed the streets of the small city. We visited the Taj Mahal and learned how it was built in the name of love by Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his deceased wife.
We got henna tattoos, rode in planes, trains and automobiles and got asked to be photographed with families and individuals at least one hundred times! In Delhi, we happened upon a free meal being cooked on the street by the Sikh’s. The Sikh religion is known for hosting community kitchens, where food is prepared daily and given to anyone for free, regardless of race, religion, age, gender or social status. Some community kitchens can serve 50,000 or more meals per day. They invited us in, gave us a plate of food, and bought us some bottled water because they could tell it was a bit spicy for us! Quite a unique and heart-warming experience.
But, my favorite part of the trip, happened in a little known area of the country called Gujarat. I was looking for an “out of the box” experience for my son and I, and I came across the Vadi Tribe. The Vadi Tribe is known for teaching their very young children the art of snake charming. It is believed they no longer do this, as Snake Charming has been outlawed in India, however I thought it would be interesting to meet the people of the tribe and learn about their lives. We happened to visit on a day that a small, new school was being opened for the children of the tribe. We took part in blessing the young children and were treated to some singing and dancing by some of the students. The entire tribe wanted to touch us, get their photos taken with us, and learn all about us. The women and girls were so beautiful and the young boys and men were so kind. It was such a wonderful experience for both my son and I….I will never forget that day.
On one the last days of the trip, we were invited to my friend Neha’s home in Delhi. Neha and her family graciously opened their home to us, and her mother cooked us a delicious Indian meal, that was better than anything we had in any restaurant! Our “thank you’s” and hugs didn’t seem like enough, after all they had done.