“Where did you come from?” the young Balinese man inquired.
“California,” I responded with a smile.
“Oh… UNITED STATES!” The notion of California was too small for this man to imagine – the United States is a world away from his world. He went on to explain that most Balinese have never traveled outside of Bali, not even to the neighboring islands by boat. He then asked several questions about what it was like to be on an airplane, to have TV, to see the world. . .
In that moment, I was reminded just how fortunate I am, with opportunities to explore the world, learn from many people and cultures, and have unforgettable adventures. When I reflect upon how much I learned in Bali alone, it’s really amazing. Among the most noteworthy:
- I’m the only American to have traveled to Bali this year who did not read “Eat Pray Love.” (I’ve since read it)
- It is possible to create a completely sustainable school where, in addition to standard curriculum, children learn through experience, sharing of ideas, cooperative activities, and movement arts. A place that is powered by a hydro-generator. A place where the stoves are fueled by methane made from cow’s waste (no, it doesn’t smell). MUCH more about this later, but if you want a sneak preview, visit Greenschool.org!
- People are happier without $4 lattes, cell phones, iPods, and instant messengers. In fact, forget about “instant” – take your time, share stories in person, create music together and then… dance!
- Food tastes better when the land it’s grown on is revered.
I can go on about Bali forever (and I will in other posts), but this is just a quick example of the importance of travel and why I’m starting this blog now. This year alone I’ve been to: Vail, New Orleans, Costa Rica, Bali; with repeated visits to New York, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara. Add to that list Turks & Caicos and the Arctic (to see the polar bears) before the year’s end. Some people travel much more frequently, others much less. For me, the adventures and people I encounter while traveling are integral to who I am. They shape (and re-shape) my world-view, inspire me infinitely, and help me become better at everything I do: relationships, work, and play! I have a long list of places to visit and many tales of adventures past to share.
The reason I’m beginning this blog today is because I’m preparing for a polar bear expedition in the Arctic. I’ve wanted to see the affects of climate change on the Arctic region and its inhabitants for some time and now have the opportunity to travel with 2 scientists who have studied bear conservation and Arctic ecology for 40 years. Friends, family, colleagues and strangers have all responded to this idea with great enthusiasm and interest, and journeys like these are meant to be shared!
Next up: Turks & Caicos and Getting Ready to Meet Polar Bears.