Travel is and always has been a big part of my life. As a toddler I lived in Istanbul,Turkey, spending a fair amount of time in Izmir, Crete, Cyprus, and Mykonos on weekends or on holiday. The vast blue Aegean Sea with starched white protruding edifices on its hillsides were my view and my bathtub and the crowded, colorful Casbah, where I would mingle amongst the vendors and terrify my mother, was my home. Often my parents would stop by a roadside café where I would scramble up the mountainside and capture baby goats attempting to make them my pets. Rummaging around the Parthenon, Ephesus, and the Oracle of Delphi was my playground. Sifting through rock and dust eons old where Plato lectured and magi spoke in babbled tongues amidst swirls of smoke, left quite an impression on my tiny brain.
Travel needs to stimulate not just the visual but the soul itself. The fragrances linger through our lives as we recall those places once visited. The spirit aroused gives rise to a floating reflection of a time long ago or a place so very far away. It alters the ego and the psyche and brings us home to ourselves. We seek the thing that makes us whole. We seek to Know Thyself, as the Oracle advised.
I have a certain fondness for extreme environs. Gritty, glittering cities impassioned by light. Languid saltwater pools holding alligators that croak under a moonless sky, their eyes flickering in the night. Seville, Spain with its clean tiled streets and young boys kicking soccer balls to pass the time near great fountains built by kings. The Canadian Maritimes, with lakes deep in a forest so dense sunlight barely reaches their water so dark and black that only prehistoric fish may thrive. The Mississippi Delta and its snaking bayous, mixing up a basin of strangely beautiful and unique cultures with a language seldom understood.
When I landed at YVR in Vancouver it was dusk. The air was damp and dreary and the rainy mist did not wet my skin but hydrated it. I felt clean. I checked into the hotel and went for dinner. An oyster house with gaslights and rough-hewn wooden tables, rustically elegant and inviting. The city was buzzing but not in a New York kind of way. This is an extremely polite town and one is ever aware of that fact. In the morning I would witness the splendor that is British Columbia.
It was October and the morning was chilly as I headed up Grouse Mountain by gondola. Once I arrived at the top I baked in the midday sun and sipped strawberry vodka. I saw my first grizzly bear, his body massive compared to the black bear of the Smoky Mountains. The Coast mountains spanning to Alaska, with ridgelines of snow and glacier that took my breath, as I saw no end to the spectacular Ice Age megaliths. The city of Vancouver beckoning below with its towering skyscrapers and glass glinting from eight miles away was unlike any city I had ever seen. This was Oz. This architecturally perfect city, with its people of many colors and flavors from distant worlds melded into one as a microcosm of creation.
Upon returning from Grouse Mountain I headed north towards Whistler. The drive along the Sea to Sky Highway flashed beauty at every turn, tempting the eyes with impeccably raw majesty and grace. Flashing fjords like jewels around each and every bend so perfectly nestled into the mountain range one could only imagine this is where God must live. Orcas floating in pods, playfully dancing and hunting, their dorsal fins stretching five or six feet high.
I have found perfection the world over. All that I have sought came to me in this place of natural wonderment. Softly it coaxed me into understanding that its vastness and my smallness belonged together. Yearning to return, I wait. Words cannot truly describe what happened to me in British Columbia. My senses struck tones only a harpist would hear. Vibrations inside my soul resonated with the infinite. I was alive in a manner foreign to my soul. It was the adult version of the unbridled child scrambling up mountains to fetch baby goats. My heart sang out and I knew this is Love.