What Travel-loving Should Prioritize
One day I was playing with my mind, letting my thoughts migrate towards philosophical considerations about life when I came across an amazing discovery. There is tough work in our life that almost all of us would be willing to do without getting paid. And I am not talking about volunteer work, family support, gym exercises or whatever driven by the noblest of intentions. But a different commitment that requires all our energies and a lot of time in order to be completed without even getting a monetary reward.
And do you know what is it? The planning for the next trip you want to take!
I know you are laughing, but please, give me a chance to share with you this extraordinary discovery I made and then you can tell me if I am wrong.
First of all my dear reader, I am talking about authentic journeys, not a holiday in a fabulous resort that you can book through any travel agency or website. A journey that requires you to study every single detail about that particular country you are going to visit. Consulting the Foreign Ministry, verifying the best season to go there, getting an idea about the geography of that territory, getting an international license if needed. And then getting information about the local currency, cultural habits, general rules, main attractions, activities, tours, accommodations, restaurants, shopping. You need to spend hours in front of your computer to book the right flights or simply to search for useful tips on related blogs. But that is still not the point!
You have to be precise enough to not forget to put in your handbag your guide Lonely Planet or Routard, camera, GoPro , a notebook or any other stuff you will need to immortalize those experiences you are impatient to live. Yes, ordinary stuff, you could still object.
Hey, but there is another big important point you need to work hard on, and maybe, you haven’t even considered it. It’s an awesome journey that you are planning and you need something authentic and alive to make it so. You need now to commit to an upper level, something nobody else can do on your behalf and that you won’t find in any guide book or organized tour.
You need to work on Human Connections!
My dear reader, here is the amazing discovery. If you deeply understand the value of Human Connections, then you are prepared to work very hard to build before your departure, occasions of real contacts and relationships that you will live with other people during your journey. No one is going to pay you to do that, but you are disposed to invest all your energies and your time to ensure that your travel plan is really complete. It’s the most challenging and compelling part of your travel planning. Believe me!
Photos, videos, and souvenirs are great memories and you are so proud that, anytime you come back from a new adventure, you want to share them on Facebook or with your family. But after a while, you will forget them in a file or album. They are precious remembrances. But think about what I am just about to tell you: they talk about your past, they don’t have a future!
Human Connections are instead alive and projected towards your future. They are something you cannot only show but also feel.
We should prioritize Human Connections any time we dream to leave to explore another little part of our marvelous planet. We should work in advance to make sure to meet and get to know new beautiful people. You know, when we travel, we can’t take back home a piece of Pietà of Michelangelo, Liberty Statue or Colossus of Rhodes, but surely we can take back with us a piece of real-life that we had with other people.
This little piece of real-life, like a seed planted in our heart, will burgeon in other infinitive possibilities that will bring us to meet again these people, cultivating an interest in their lives and health and sharing a deep feeling of affection and love.
I can tell you that for sure because this blog is proof. And if so far I have brought you to Italy, Australia, Alaska, Hawaii, California, this time I will take you to Bali to let you know what it means to work in advance on Human Connections. Nobody paid me to work on it, but the reward I got is worth much more than money!
I have never been to Indonesia and while my departure is approaching I check again all my contacts. I cannot still believe that I will be hosted in a marvelous villa in Ubud (Bali) and that a Balinese couple who works on that property is already waiting for me.
I worked hard to make sure to find a little corner of paradise in the huge Indonesian archipelago, with the chance to be in contact with Balinese people, enjoying the local community. In the last days, I have been exchanging correspondence with Susan, a sweet American woman who is the owner of the villa, and Suwara, her employee and manager of the property. Everything is set, and Dewa, a friend of theirs will come to pick me up at the airport. How can it be better than this?
Human Connections in Bali
I am doing many activities in Bali and the bike tour was one of my favorites, so far. I spent a day in Nusa Penida too, snorkeling in Manta and Crystal Bays, admiring Angel’s Billa Bong and Broken Beach or going down and climbing up the steep cliff which leads to the wonderful Kelingking Beach. Great adventures! The scenery on this island is wonderful: temples, rice fields, marvelous beaches, forest animated by little monkeys, the lake and the volcano. And when you are tired, there is nothing better than take a break in one of the many “warung”, small family-owned restaurants or café where you can breathe the real Balinese spirit.
But then, there is a moment in the day when Human Connections get higher and I feel deeply connected with this land and its people. It’s when I get back to my temporary home and to my local family. Then, it’s time to stay on the couch on the front porch, enjoying the incredible view over the lush valley, lulled by the sound of the river and by Suwara’s tales. He is a Buddhist, very peaceful and tranquil person. Friendly and generous, so much that I made a decision to consider him my Balinese cultural teacher, my meditation trainer and my spiritual guide. And Kartini, his wife, is my cooking teacher. The energy here is so pure and vibrant that I have the feeling to live in another dimension.
Attending the celebrations at the near temple, wearing a sarong, sitting among faithful, adds another incredible chance to satisfy my desire to live Human Connections. Beautiful and colorful women are very proud to show their offering and, even if the music and dancing are so new and amazing for me, I feel immediately connected and at peace.
Potluck Dinner in Ubud
Today is the great day! I have been waiting for months to be here. A potluck dinner at Dave’s stunning villa in the center of Ubud, and so another big chance for Human Connections. But who is Dave? Actually, I still don’t know him but I got his contact to attend an event he holds at his home every Wednesday. It is a party where invited people from all around the world bring tasty dishes to share and end up watching a movie all together on a huge screen.
“However, it was a challenge to arrive alive at this so much-awaited event”, I tell to myself smiling as soon as I get off Suwara’s car. On my way to here I met hundreds of scooters speeding on the road, overloaded with people and stuff. Overtaking from any side, they buzzed like crazy swarms of insects while Suwara speeded up, braked and honked. I still have the feeling of being shaken left and right inside the car. What a scary adventure, I think amused!
The huge sitting room of the villa has already become crowded and the welcome couldn’t be warmer. The ceiling is high like in a temple, with no glass at the windows, and birds that fly through the room and back to the enchanting garden. I had planned to prepare an Italian recipe to add a dash of my culture in this international dinner, but a bowl of delicious noodles cooked by Kartini conquered my palate and canceled any of my good intentions. So tasty!
The atmosphere is cheerful and all the people are spinning around a table to fill their plates with different food. On the last tray, there is a beautiful, delicious, chocolate cake and I think that everybody is desiring to get at least a little piece of it before it is over. And so do I, but too bad I am so far to that goal, I think smiling. But here comes a gracious lady and gives me a plate with a piece of that cake. “I am Wendy”, she says. “Please to meet you!”.
“Wendy, what a beautiful name for such a nice woman”, I tell myself. My dinner flows pleasantly chatting with all the invited until Dave gives a speech and gives the start to the movie. A documentary on a famous concert of Aretha Franklin. The international language of the music creates a natural bond among all the people watching the movie and, in a while, there are no more countries, boundaries or different languages, but only common emotion and feeling carried on by the miraculous voice of Aretha. Someone seems to stretch the neck towards the screen to follow the treble of the voice, someone else seems to hold his breath to retain that energy, while more than one person is moved to tears.
The movie is over and I reach Wendy to get back to our previous conversation. We swap each others phone numbers, while she keeps one eye on her little bag. “I have wrapped a piece of the chocolate cake”, she says “and I want to eat it tomorrow”. Her driver has arrived, she has to go. But I notice surprised that all the people are already disappeared. “Where did all the guests go?”, I say to Wendy. She says: “Oh, that’s normal. In Bali people say good-bye as soon as the party is over”. So strange for an Italian person, I think amused. In my country, we spend at least another half an hour at the door after saying good-bye. “But where is my piece of cake?”, she says. Dave’s dog also liked it, and now I know why Wendy watched over her bag. Poor Wendy!
Last day in Bali
It’s my last day in Bali and I want to give a little party to thanks Kartini and Suwara for their warm kindness and for having been my family. We have also a guest of honor, Wendy. I order a babi guling, a roast pig, one of the most famous typical dishes of Bali. Wendy is an extraordinary woman. She arrives early in the afternoon so that we have time to have a long chat. She is such an open and pleasant person that I am listening to her with joy and attention.
We have dinner all together, talking about Balinese culture, habits, and traditions. We keep talking until late at night, and another half an hour after saying good-bye. It means, that somehow, in my short time here, I managed to contaminate Balinese habits with my Italian culture.
I am regularly in contact with Suwara and Kartini while Wendy promised to come to Italy very soon. And so, another little piece of real-life lived together with other people, has been planted like a seed in our heart and it will burgeon in other infinitive possibilities that will bring us to meet again.
I worked hard to plan this journey and get in advance beautiful chances of Human Connections, and I am already working for my next travels and next opportunities. Working on Human Connections is something I really like and I love also to help other people to create in their lives these marvelous networks of human relationships.
Planning a journey that includes chances of Human Connections is a hard work that I am willing to do without getting paid.
What an amazing discovery!