Okay, so I can’t. I’m not Aladdin, and my puppy ate my magic carpet.
I’ve been thinking so much about travel lately that I have decided to make a “bucket list,” as it were. Places I want to go, that will burrow regret into my heart if I don’t make it there. Some of these places may be a little strange, some of them will be top tourist traps, some will seem outlandish to anyone who knows me (specifically the arachniphobe part of me).
These are also places I want to go while I’m young. Some are places I want to take my children. I want my children to feel that the world is an approachable place, to associate faces with dots on maps. To hear names and music in the languages of other nations and respect the rich history and culture of the earth and its people. I want to live a life of abandon and adventure. So without further emotional pyrotechnics, here be my places:
This is the side of my heritage that I first felt connected to, and it’s the one I know the least about. I know my last name is Welsh, but my family history on that side has disappeared, wiped away by poverty in the new nation my ancestors settled. In all my trips to the island of Great Britain, I’ve never made it to Wales. Scotland took a firm hold of my heart, and it hasn’t yet loosed its grip. Wales is number one on my list of places I will forever regret missing.
I want to learn Welsh. The language is undergoing a serious revival — to the point that to be a marketable employee in Wales, you must be bilingual. That is a feat in and of itself.
My ninth grade English class sparked and nurtured a love of Greek mythology. When I taught in inner city DC, my kids adored our unit about it. We discussed Prometheus stealing fire for the humans and the nature of Hera and the awkwardness of Zeus raping Leda in the guise of a swan. (Really, Zeus?)
I want to visit ancient temples and see the evidence of the Classical Age with my own eyes. This historian has always wondered what would have happened had that age come to fruition instead of being overshadowed by the advent of religious zealotry that stamped out original thought wherever it found it. (Sorry, but it’s true. You can try to argue that the RCC didn’t persecute scientists, but you can also wear poo on your head and call it high fashion. Doesn’t make it right.) Just ask Copernicus, Galileo, Isaac Newton, and Martin Luther.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been enthralled by pyramids. In fifth grade, this was where I chose when asked where in the world I wanted to go. Cleopatra fascinated me (surprise, surprise). I thought the pyramids held magic. And that was just at age eleven.
Now I want to learn the culture. Wear linen. Feel the throng of the markets. Cough the smog. I want to eat with my hands and see the expansive sands. I want to let those pyramids dwarf me with their age and immensity. And yeah, I kind of want to ride a camel.
Don’t worry. It’s not all about good ole Vlad the Impaler. Romania has a rich history, a fluid and melodic Latin language, and stunning scenery. The people are hospitable and warm. I love Central Europe. I love everything about it. I love the cultures and the food, the zest for life and the dogged determination that has allowed these lands to survive dictators, oppressors, and invaders century after century.
Kana will be happy to see this one on here! Honestly, it’s not the beach that draws me to this tropical archipelago. Emmie and beach are sort of non-mixy things, as I tend to become a lobster when I look at the sun. I can get burned in the shade. I can get burned on a cloudy day in Scotland. No one believes me. But it’s true.
Not the beach. It’s the land. It’s the color of the water and the burning volcanoes that keep mutating the islands, changing them and bringing life and humility. It’s the wildlife and the foliage. I want to see colorful bird life and hear really noisy tree frogs. I want to swim with dolphins again and see white and black sand beaches from a safe vantage point under ten layers of SPF a billion and a large, unbecoming hat. I want to pounce coconuts and fall off a surfboard and eat whatever I can stuff in my mouth. And most of all, I want to do the island thing and just chill.
Were you expecting the Taj Mahal? I would love to see it. I would. But ever since I first saw images of Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors, I’ve wanted to be a part of it. What a glorious mess! What a stunning surge of life!
There are elephants and tigers in India. There is food to build a fire in your belly. There is barter and silk and smiles and beautiful colors and a country pushing forward with a massive portion of the world’s humans. It’s impressive and humbling and unmissable.
I’ve always rather fancied fjords. Just saying the word is rather fun. And you can cruise through them! Mountains, lakes, trees — it’s a recipe for a happy Emmie right there. (Can you tell the Food Network is on in the background?) Plus, Norway has one of the highest standards of living in Europe (and the world), and I’ve wanted to try my hand at a Scandinavian language for a while.
Although I don’t reckon I’ll be trying lutefisk any time soon, there’s a lot to be found in Norway!
See above, re: mountains, lakes, trees. Aside from being named after a town in bonnie Scotland, you can’t beat the Northern Rockies for their serenity and beauty. Plus, I could possibly drag my two lovely best friends along with me to their own country for once, though Jordan lives closer to the Scottish Banff than the Canadian one.
Aside from the food, Thailand boasts some stunning islands and beaches, crystal clear water for me to stare at from the shade, and one of the best light shows on the planet. Every year in Chiang Mai, the residents release the paper-thin lanterns into the sky for good luck, symbolizing the release of their worries and cares into the air.
Thailand is also home to a beautiful elephant sanctuary where you can spend weeks interacting with and caring for their guests up close and personal. For an elephant lover like moi, this is a big draw.
So. If I want to go all these places, where’s home?
Home is, first of all, here:
Someday soon, though, I hope the two of us and our fuzzy little critters will make our home somewhere like this:
The world is a big place, but it is increasingly an approachable place. You can get to the other side of it in a matter of hours where before it took months and probably a dollop of scurvy. I want to see what it has to offer. It’ll take a lot of money and some time acrobatics, but we’ll make it happen. Till then, there’s the dream.
Where do you want to go? What places must you get to to satisfy the itch in your soul?
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