One of the biggest things that strikes me when I travel is I usually fall more in love with the people I meet than the actual place I am.
My most favorite memory of this so far was on my first trip to Peru. My grandparents would always encourage us to fill out suitcases with 90% of clothes and things we would be willing to give away. This was because on those missions trips we would visit villages and towns that were very impoverished. The feeling that comes with giving a gift to someone who has very little was really impactful on my life.
We would go into these tiny houses with dirt floors and one mattress for a family of 6 and even with so little to offer us they would give everything they possible could. This one mother had her son run down the street with some coins to get us some cans of coke. Thinking of it now still gives me chills.
On our final day I had met this girl who I was speaking to in mangled Spanish- she was so gracious to let me fumble over my words and never rushed me. I was wearing this flower necklace that I had worn to a dance and absolutely loved it, but something came over me and I felt the urge to give this little prized possession of mine to this girl. Her eyes widened and her smile was so beautiful she hugged me tight and thanked me over and over. As we were saying goodbye she asked me to wait as she ran back into her house, when she emerged she was carrying this very large wooden goblet. She handed it to me and it weighed a good half a pound- it was definitely nothing I ever imagined I would have owned, but I knew she wanted to return the favor of giving and that mattered more to me than any piece of jewelry I owned.
That wooden goblet is still in my room back in Miami and when my parents move I will make sure it goes to California with them until I can have it with me again, and every time I look at it I can’t help but smile.
Peru was beautiful and I loved the country, but that gift exchange more beautiful than any city I saw on that trip. I feel that way even now living in this beautiful country of Australia- yes it is amazing and the things I have seen can take my breath away but the people who I can come to know and love mean infinitely more.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
– Miriam Beard
I will keep seeking to find those changes that happen deep within when I travel, when I see new places, but mostly what I hope to find is people who can permanently change my idea of what it means to live.
Here is one of those people.