I detail the five destinations I have yet to discover that light my travel fire.
The Traveling Brown Girls Blog Carnival, piloted by travel writer and advocate Tracey Friley, has asked various bloggers of colour to write blog posts on designated travel topics. On this go-round, the theme relates to the five places we’ve never been and implores us to explain why we want to go. See the rest of the posts by other bloggers on this fabulous topic on Brown Girls Fly.
As an avid traveller who always appears to be on the go, I am frequently solicited for travel advice. A fair amount of these conversations begin with the question, “What’s the ‘best’ country you’ve ever been to?”. I put the word best in quotations simply because it’s a relative term, so distinct and personal to different people, and also because I’m not really good at itemizing my travels and putting them into ‘best’ and ‘worst’ boxes.
I love different places for wildly different reasons; reasons that aren’t only limited to the tangible aspects of that particular place. So I try to refrain from using the words ‘best’ or ‘top’ wherever I can when talking about the places I have particularly enjoyed — and instead attempt to use the term ‘memorable’. I often cite a rail and boat trip I took through Spain, Portugal, and Morocco in 2004 as one of my most memorable trips ever, but I realize now that it wasn’t really due to the physical geography or cultural features of those countries. Rather, the trip was an incredible experience mostly due to the feeling of independence I felt (it was the first big trip I planned without anyone’s aid) and the company I had (I travelled with a friend… and then two strangers we met on our first stop in Lisbon ended up travelling with us for the duration of our two week trip).
All that said, however, I can definitely list the five yet-travelled to destinations that stir me and incite feelings of wonder and longing. While I sometimes suffer from travel fatigue that can make me feel ambivalent about seeing the world, there are at least five places I haven’t been to that make me excited about travelling. I can’t really rank them from 1 to 5 so instead I’ve put them in alphabetical order.
In October 2011 I travelled solo to Chile and visited the Atacama Desert. The landscapes were straight out of a science fiction novel: rugged, barren, piercing, and intergalactic. I heard that the landscapes were even more impressive just across the border in northern Bolivia. Even though I was within an hour of the border, I just didn’t have the time to go, and ever since I feel like I missed out on a great opportunity. In the very near future I want to go deep into the Bolivian desert and see the famous Uyuni salt flats — if nothing else the perspective-bending barren fields provide wicked photo ops.
I’ve always been drawn to Brazil because of the culture, beaches, and samba, but it wasn’t until I saw a friend’s Facebook album of Rio Carnival, in full costume because she was participating in the parade with a Carioca samba school, that I realized I really want to go. I got suited up for Toronto’s Caribana festival a few years back and would love to do the same thing in Rio.
The language and diverse physical geography of the country appeal to me greatly. There are mountains and Caribbean seas and colonial cities and jungles and mud baths and volcanos. Liebling and I originally planned to go two summers ago but the country is so huge and rich that we knew that two weeks wouldn’t suffice. Instead, we went to Guatemala and had a great time (it is also very topographically diverse). Colombia is still very much on my radar, however.
Neon and harajuku, sushi and kimono, my love for Japan is frivolous and stylistic. I got my fill of Asia after living in Hong Kong for two years but I never made it to Japan and I regret it. I’m hoping to get there later this year.
The history and beauty are haunting. I want to see the difficult past and rejoice in the positive. I want to stand before Mandela’s jail cell on Robben Island, visit the townships in Johannesburg, seek out the prosperous black families in the country and ask them how they have overcome apartheid. And maybe paraglide off of Table Mountain.
Which places do you have an intense desire to see with your own eyes? Why?