By Sharka Waite
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
I imagine, we are all formed as individual little globes, like pearls decorating the planet Earth. The more we see and experience, the more colorful we become, with higher peaks, deeper valleys…rainbow colored globes with ridges and craters, wells and abyss, overcoming, shining brighter into the universe. I am yet to finish coloring the pearl of my life, but I know I haven’t shied away from painting it with brushes of many strokes, shapes, colors, empathy and compassion, to be a part of the colorful necklace of existence.
My love for traveling and curiosity of experiencing the world on my own must stem from my father’s love for life. He sure was a passionate man. Every story of his was like a kid’s story book; full of adventure, character, and wisdom. I was glued to my chair at the kitchen table whenever he passionately talked about his travels and experiences. Some good, some bad, but all led to one direction – a life lesson.
I was probably the one of the two daughters to inherit more of his “traveling bug” DNA. Always the curious, inquisitive one with the desire to see the world, it was to noone’s surprise I would soon spread my wings and fly into the wild world. I didn’t have a destination. I flew freely from one country, one village, one farm, one city, one coast to another, in the direction of the wind, the sun, the wilderness, the moon, and eventually landed at the coast of the Pacific Ocean. How fortunate for my soul to be carried to the mighty ocean and even make a safe landing after all this journeying.
I mostly traveled solo in the years of my youth. Today, as a woman of middle age, I wonder how have I ever survived and, if it were my daughter, I wouldn’t have ever approved of this sort of adventure around the globe. But I was always mature, acting older than my age, my parents knew I was responsible and sensible, and trusted my decisions. Although, sometimes we don’t fully dictate our own destiny as there are many predators, somehow, I was quite fortunate (for the most part), except for a few incidents, to survive with more excitement than damage along my journeying.
Although I am a shy introvert, deep inside I am a story teller. Perhaps, not partying but traveling was going to help me with sharing my story, not just mine but of those who sincerely seek the beauty in the world. We all have something in common; trying to share the richness of life experiences, lessons learned and continue to spread the wisdom of ages. I remember when I took my first vacation when I moved to the U.S. after traveling Europe, I was full of hope, light and anticipation of paradise. So, of course, it had to be to Florida for its warmth and tropical feel.
I flew from Chicago on my birthday in July (not the best time to travel to Florida), I rented a car and began my journey. I had no specific destination, just to experience the state from coast to coast. I drove from Orlando to the east coast and continued south through Palm Beach to Miami, visited a couple of highly-frequented white sand beaches, and continued on the beautifully elevated sea-bridges all the way to Key West. There is no feeling like it, it’s as if you’re at the “end of the world”. I arrived to the centre of Key West quite late at night, so I just parked my rented car and went to the nearest restaurant to grab a bite to eat before I’d check in to a hotel. The small restaurant had a piano bar with live music playing. As I was moving to the rhythm of the music, enjoying my grilled salmon and a glass of wine, two young men approached me and asked me if I cared to join them for a dance. I love dancing! Of course, I’d care to join them, although I thought it was kind of funny for one woman to dance with two much younger men. However, it turned out they were total gentlemen and we all enjoyed our time. Afterwards, they asked if instead of checking into a hotel I’d like to sleep under the sky at the end of the beach. They assured me they are harmless as they were two gay men who too like to travel and meet different people from a variety of paths. Although, it may seem absolutely crazy, and, when I think back on it – it was crazy! I said yes. And I am glad I did…we walked through the town to the very end of the island, found the last palm tree standing and lay our souls down under the free sky.
It was one of those experiences I would never suggest to my daughter if I had one, but one that was the most innocent and peaceful in my life. Watching the stars, feeling the midnight breeze, and feeling the gentle waves hugging the shore…making you feel like you’re at the end of the world. Words fail to describe the experience. And that’s just one of many I experienced when strangers became the same traveler, for a moment. I wonder why we can’t all get along when it’s so beautiful to share the world.
Despite all the tragedies around the globe, travel, live fully, experience the world if you can. Be careful but don’t be afraid. The world is a gem, like a pearl held against light, reflecting a full range of color, beauty, and wonder.
Peace & Joy,