I’ve heard it said that travel changes lives but I didn’t believe it applied to me until I had to choose My Three Favorite Travel Memories.
I realized that each trip has altered my life in significant and not-so significant ways. Most importantly, traveling has made me more appreciative of what I have, and also expanded my circle of friends. Traveling for me is both therapy and education – it’s my antidote to boredom and malaise.
I have so many favorite memories of my travels, it was very difficult to narrow it down to my top three. Hopefully, you’ll see why I decided on these.
This post is part of The Blogger Relay that is sponsored by LowCostHolidays. The goal is to keep this chain of stories going and the team with the longest chain of travel stories by September 28th wins.
Bronze – Mérida
Mérida was my first trip abroad. I had spent the year before I started university teaching basic and intermediate Spanish to 10 and 11 year olds. When we heard about a one-week immersion program in Mérida that was organized by the Ministry of Education, another Spanish teacher and I decided to participate. in a one-week Spanish immersion program in Mérida and became chaperones for three of our students.
All the arrangements were made through a travel agency contracted by the Ministry of Education and we turned over newly minted passports so they could obtain our visas and tickets and arrange our accommodation.
But when we made the 4-hour drive back to Kingston for our appointment to get our documents, we learned that our passports had been destroyed in a fire at the agency. No one had bothered to alert us and there was no way for us to get new passports and visas in time to leave with the rest of the group. We wouldn’t be going to Mérida. We returned home feeling disappointed and defeated. But that was not the end of this story.
A few weeks later, the travel gods smiled and with new documents in hand, we were on a direct flight to Mérida. Since we had missed the immersion, we were free to do whatever we wanted to do.
The first thing I noticed was how different the Spanish in Mérida was. It sounded like an entirely different language than what I’d been studying since primary school. I could pick out one or two words but the rest sailed right over my head.
At the market the day after we arrived, I met Mario and his friend, Belgio. Between my version of Spanish and his limited English, I agreed to go with them to the beach at Progreso. (I wouldn’t have done that now!)
We spent a great afternoon swimming, and exchanged phone numbers when they took me back at the hotel. If you think trying to understand a language when you’re face to face with someone is hard, try doing the same thing on the phone. But there’s no mistaking Belgio when he called later that evening and declared, “Te amo. Te adoro.”
‘I love you’ in any language gets your attention. Said in Spanish with Belgio’s intensity and passion, it was a bit romantic. But I couldn’t stop giggling. I was a cynic even then. But what did I really know about matters of the heart at that age?
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