Growing up, my parents encouraged us to see the world. We weren’t rich but they always seemed to find a way to have enough money to pile us in the back of their custom van. Summers were spent driving around the country exploring. I think that is why I love traveling so much today.
In our world of America, especially in Texas (yes, it is different than anywhere else) we tend to think that everyone lives like we do. We think that all people get up in the morning, get ready, take the kids to school, go to work, come home, have diner/social, go to bed. While this is true for a lot of people, the degree and variations are so different that it impacts who they are. Simple things like:
- What time do you get to work? 5am or 9am?
- Do the kids have school on Saturday?
- Are businesses open at 1 or do they close from 1-4 (or some variation of that time)?
- What time do you eat dinner?
The dinner thing is what really amazes me.
In Texas, dinner time is 5-6 ish… In Spain, dinner time is 9-10 ish. The whole day is set up differently based on this time. Now, if you ask someone in Madrid why they eat late, they tell you because that is when it cools down. The stores are closed in the afternoon to save on electricity or it is just too hot. But Texas never adapted to that, and I can tell you it is a hella lot hotter in Texas than Spain. I hate eating dinner at 6pm. I don’t start cooking until 7. Depending on how long it takes to cook we usually have dinner around 8pm. That to me is a suitable time. My friends and family think we are crazy.
The other big one is children.
Is it socially acceptable to take a baby into a bar? Many places it is. Many places it isn’t. A lot of places it isn’t but people do it anyway. But then in some places kids can start drinking beer/wine at 16. So, it isn’t uncommon to be in a beer garden sitting next to essentially kids having beer.
Then there is the attitude of people that is just different.
Some cultures are laid back. Servers in restaurants tell you to holler at them when you are ready. Others are annoyed that you are talking and not ordering. Some bring you the bill and need you to get out when you are done eating. Others tell you to take your time, bring a bottle of something yummy on the house, and encourage you to stay a little longer.
But if you do not see the world, you only know this via television, books and radio.
You don’t get yelled at by the concierge in Copenhagen when you ask what he recommends doing and the reply is “you should go home. it is too cold for you to be here. why do tourists come here in October???” (seriously this happened. The concierge! and then when I told others what he said, their reply was “well, he is right”). (by the way, I love Copenhagen but their directness can be overwhelming for someone used to the southern hospitality).
If you do not go see the world then…
You do not know what it feels like to be in different altitudes. You do not have the experience of someone bringing you tea and you not sure what is in it but you drink it anyway because you feel that strangely bad.
You don’t understand why it is important in Cuzco Peru to take it slow and easy because otherwise you will pass out from the height.
You would not know that the birthday cake in southern Venezuela tastes a lot like my mom’s cake. But their rice is totally different.
If you do not see the world you do not really understand what a street dog really is. And that means different things in different parts of the world.
If you don’t travel the world, you have no idea the variety of toilets that exist on Earth. We all poop, but not in the same way.
So, I am extremely grateful that my parents dragged me and my brother around the US. I’ll write more about those trips later. If you haven’t piled your kids in the car and taken off though, do it. Sell something, save your money. Pack PBJ sandwiches and clip coupons.
Who knows… 30 years from now your 10 year old could be sitting in her kitchen writing her travel blog about the world all because you made her stop at every.. single..historical landmark you saw.
Peace and love.