"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. "
Last weekend the National Convention center in D.C. housed the Travel and Adventure show. This enormous roll out of literally hundreds of little stores promotes everything from world cruises to how best to hit up individual cities. As an amateur traveler with a passion for going to off the beat 'n track destinations, I felt like the time bugs bunny got abandoned on Carrot Island. I went nuts. Armenia, Jamaica, Bolivia, Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman? Is that on Mars or Jupiter? I don't know, but why not. Are you interested in going to Iran, Sir? You bet. In goes another pile of pamphlets. There were live performances of exotic cultural dances that enlivened the senses and awoke curiosity from its slumber. The burritos were muy delicioso.What I enjoyed most was the fact that not one travel store pressured you to sign up to its offers. What's more, to enter the convention you only had to pay the miserly fee of $11.00. However, small as it is, the payment is necessary for it restricts the exhibitors from being overly zealous in pressuring you to go north to Alaska, or wherever.
I met the author of "1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die", Patricia Schultz. Schultz' book is one of the best selling travel books of all time, probably due to the highly persuasive style she adopts. I bet you can't read a single chapter of her book without contemplating, even momentarily, to drop everything and make your way to the nearest airport. She makes us ordinary folk aware that there are so many exotic tourist destinations just waiting to be explored. A meet and greet moment with Schultz was a highlight of my time at the Travel and Adventure Show. She is a heroine of 21st century travel and gives her patrons a warm fuzzy feeling inside; she makes you feel completely at ease. Whether it be books, calendars, audio or giving live presentations, Schultz's mark is very stylish and recognizable. Thanks for the opportunity, Patricia.
As I made my way through the labyrinth of travel stores I stumbled across a man standing between a BMW GS motorbike and a van. It sparked my curiosity instantly. "Hi, I'm Alan Karl" he said confidently. I'd never heard of him. He told me some of his story and I was hooked. Alan travelled the world for 3 years on his BMW, visiting 65 countries. He collected recipes, stories and took marvelous pictures along the way. Upon his return he wrote a best seller Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection. Three Years. Five Continents. One Motorcycle. It is one of those books you reach for when a big storm is coming, the lights go out and your snuggled down in bed listening to the crackle of a wood fire. His story transports you onto the road with him. To the crystal clear salt flats of beautiful Bolivia. To the torrid swamps of Africa. I was not leaving the Convention Centre without a copy of Forks. Where I'm going to store it in my luggage when I hit the road though is another thing...