Though I had been to Europe before, I started to really understand what travel meant at 18. I landed in Morocco only to discover that my second-hand canvas Army backpack had mysteriously disappeared upon arrival. Alone, with only the clothes on my back, I braved the local market and floundered my way through the language barrier to bargain a price for new clothes. The moment of triumph was short-lived when I realized I was lost and had to pay a small boy to show me the way out of the labyrinth souk. The next day he returned and invited me to his home for Iftar, the meal to break Ramadan fast. Even though I was alone, I had never felt so much a part of the people around me.
More then a decade later, travel is still my addiction. I have been to over 40 countries and add to that list every year. The world is a truly beautiful, breathtaking place, but what surprises me and affects the most change in my perception is the people that I meet. Homestays build right into that philosophy. I love interacting with the owners, seeing the personality put into the space. And knowing that the money I am spending is going to enrich a person's life directly makes it more fun to stay there!
I am pretty easy-going. I figure that sometimes the most frustrating things turn out to be the best opportunities. If I hadn't lost my backpack, I probably wouldn't have been so flustered that I had to pay the boy to find my hotel. But, if I hadn't then I would have missed out on meeting his family and having a really meaningful experience! So most of the time, I don't worry if things don't turn out exactly as I planned, I just start figuring out a better way.
And if my words don't persuade, my literary loves evoke my sentiments more poetically~
"Upon those travelers who make their way without maps or guides, there breaks a wave of exhilaration with each unexpected change of plans"- Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
"To feel the love of people whom we love is fire that feeds our life. But to feel affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses, that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens our boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.” - Pablo Neruda.