I’ve had the fortune of doing my fair share of travel over the years. My first trip out of Puerto Rico was when I was 10 and my grandparents brought my cousin and me to Orlando for a week, including my first visit to Disney World. From that trip on, I fell enamored of traveling, a feeling that would only grow later on after a couple more trips to the US in my teens, and the jackpot, my first trip to Europe in my mid-twenties.
In a period of five years, I was fortunate enough to visit Europe on four different occasions, starting with a 35-day, 17-cities grand tour in the summer of 2001, Ireland in 2002, Paris in 2005, and Netherlands and Belgium in 2006. Each of those trips was amazing in its own unique way, and I carry each emblazoned in my heart forever. During the last twelve years, however, although I’ve done my share of travel within the United States, I haven’t crossed the pond, or indeed any international borders. It’s been far too long, and I can’t wait to head out into the world again.
My wife has yet to visit Europe, and one of my big dreams is taking her to some of the countries I’ve visited to share in the fantastic experiences at her side. I cannot wait to stroll the streets of London holding my wife’s hand, to sit at the Champs de Mars as night falls over Paris seeing the Eiffel Tower come alive in twinkling lights, to see the windmills along the Dutch countryside, to ride a gondola with a grizzled and hairy gondolieri along the canals of Venice. I can’t wait to have brand new experiences in cities and countries new to both of us as well, maybe in the bustling streets of Madrid, or a sun-drenched beach in Greece, or some storybook little town somewhere in the Swiss Alps, or the German Black Forest, or in one of the Nordic countries.
Then beyond Europe, I wish to visit countries that challenge us as travelers and as human beings by being different from where we come from. I long with a passion to visit Israel, to see and feel and touch and experience personally all the places important to my faith. I’d love to visit Japan, with their mix of bleeding-edge technology and ancient traditions. I’d like to visit countries in Central and South America, where I can find cultures that share an ancestral homeland with my own but developed differently; countries in Africa that show me the diversity of a continent too long underestimated and dismissed as primitive by the world, and especially the West; and the island nations of Australia and New Zeland, because they are so unique, hanging out all the way down there.
Along with all that world-hopping, I want to continue traveling domestically, exploring the various corners of this vast country where I live. While we think of the US as a single entity, I like to think of it as fifty small nations all bound together by this one name, each with its own treasures to explore.
Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our 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.” If for no other reason, I believe we should all travel. I know my life has been enriched by all the peoples I have met in my travels, by learning about other cultures and what others consider normal and good. It has made me a better person. I have made memories that I cherish on a regular basis, and that continue to affect my daily life years later.
So that’s my big, achievable dream, to travel the world, to take my wife and family to places near and far where we can marvel at God’s handiwork and learn about the amazing people that live in this world, and not just in a vague someday, but soon, very soon, like in a couple years soon. I can’t wait.