Friday, July 11, 2008

why we travel

We travel not for trafficking alone;
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

-- James Elroy Flecker

They attended school together -- not as contemporaries, but only as the British can. Decades separated James Elroy Flecker from Stephen Fry, but they may as well have shared the same caning chair.

English schools do that. Or as Stephen Fry put it: "All of them had experienced this eminently Victorian fustian world of black musty cloaks and public school hymn books and the smell of the chapel and its wooden pews, and the talk of sin and Jerusalem."

I cannot recall if Stephen Fry introduced me to Flecker or if I knew Flecker from the famous couplet from The Golden Journey to Samarkand. I think I knew parts of the poem when I was around 8 or 9. For me, it summed up everything that was exotic about the silk road and the turkish nations. (To this day, the flag of Kyrgyzstan is my favorite.)

About seven years ago, my office was going through one of those managerial shifts that cause colleagues to become unsettled. In an attempt to show a positive and adventuresome side to my personality, I put the couplet on my white board. A management colleague came in, read it, and scampered off to tell my boss that I was contemplating suicide.

Suicide? How could she misconstrue the very essence of camels, silks, and rifles as being a cri de coeur?

But that is the problem with asking questions like: "Why do we travel?" Our answers can be very unsettling to those who ask. They ask because they do not understand.

For me, my current tip to Melaque is to test drive my potential rental house in Mexico. This is not going to be a trip solely for pleasure. I want to learn about my potential neighbors. The weather. The rhythm of life.

And when I return, I will know more than when I left. Whether I have travelled "[f]or lust of knowing what should not be known," we shall see.

What I have not yet decided is whether this will be my last post until 20 July, or whether I will take along enough equipment to stay connected.

Now, there would have been a good blog poll. But not today.


islagringo said...

I would not bother taking a laptop with you. There are cybercafes where you can get online in both Barra and Melaque.

Anonymous said...

I hope you have a great trip and learn a lot about your potential new home. Do a lot of investigating and note taking and report out upon your return.

Brenda said...

Have a great trip.
Hope you find time to update while you are there.

Anonymous said...

I vote for your hauling the laptop - while there are cyber cafes everywhere - those Spanish keyboards are hard on an old dog not apt to take the time to learn new tricks (my case - perhaps not yours).

Besides - selfishly I want to hear all the details rather than wait.


Steve Cotton said...

I am starting to look forward to the trip. Until today, I have not given it much thought. In less than 20 hours I will be in the air.

I have decided to follow Juan's advice. My brother wants me to try out a new on-line telephone system. For that, I will need my lap top. And I need to work on putting together a training session. So -- I just may blog from Melaque. I am testing out a USB-based reader for my camera memory chip. It is proving to be a bit tempermental.

Thank you, Wayne, Jackie, Brenda, and Juan for such a nice send off.