"You travel, you're not a tourist." - Wisdom in action, from my parents.
Updated: Jul 10, 2018
Travel = To make a journey.
Annie and Bruce instilled in me, by way of journey-making, that we are people who travel, but we are NOT tourists. When I was little, long before my little sister was born, we drove from our tiny hometown in Iowa to Key West, Florida, trekking back by way of Bowling Green, Kentucky to be certain we saw The National Corvette Museum. We weren't tourists there because Bruce owned a 1968 Corvette, you see. That trip also included Disney World (a slight brush with being tourist-y, but I was eight and would have been insufferable if we didn't go), an alarming drive through eight lane traffic in Atlanta, and a stop at Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville. On every adventure with Annie and Bruce, we stayed at interesting (read: cheap) hotels and motels and if there was one thing that was considered inauthentic, even sacrilege; it was a resort or all-inclusive anything. We did things "the Bruce way."
Our family travels took us out of the country, scuba diving, and Caribbean beach camping. I am talking actual beach camping, you guys. No electricity, one "bathhouse" with only cold water, and the threat of coatimundi attacks if you exited your tent at night. (To be fair to the coatimundi, this was likely a myth made up to keep track of me in the dark. I scare easily.) I watched my baby sister climb her first "stairs" (two, in the lobby) at a Cozumel motel in the winter of 2000. We pushed our van up an interstate ramp when it died on the way home from the St. Louis Airport.. And then we caught a ride with the tow truck to Kansas City. I was designated driver in Akumal at the age of 10 when our group stayed out well after cocktail hour.
When I was well into adulthood, I spent two weeks traveling Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico with my nuclear family (for future reference, my nuclear family: Bruce = Dad, Annie = Mom, and Bailey = very little sister, she is fifteen years younger than me). We rode local public transportation, an old school bus with a handwritten departure schedule, six hours across Belize to see Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. (It was worth it.) I got trapped in a bathroom with a scorpion for two hours in Mexico while the rest of my family was scuba diving, Bruce took us off-roading in a golf cart on Caye Caulker while Bailey and I held onto the back for dear life, and we stopped our cab in the Belize mainland countryside to walk a sugarcane field in sandals. It is a true wonder that we survived all of our adventures without so much as one measly tropical disease. (Seriously though, Thank God.)
But, at the risk of sounding cliche, Bailey and I did catch something: The love of travel and respect for other cultures.
Now, even further into adulthood, I have had the opportunity to travel and (gasp!) stay at amazing, sometimes all-inclusive, resorts. I won't deny, I love the luxury and nothing beats flying first class. (Do you know me? Actually, do you know my husband? Ha.) But I will never, ever lose touch with my unglamorous, "fly by the seat of Bruce's pants" roots. After all, if I hadn't taken a sketchy cab ride across the heavily-armed Guatemalan border, I would never have seen Tikal.
As I look forward to an upcoming Miami trip, I think of this quote from B.J. Neblett: "We are the sum total of our experiences." And that makes me an old soul with bougie tastes and the ability to "rough it" in the name of wanderlust.
(Special "thank you" to Annie and Bruce for providing the experiences that made my childhood!)