I’ve always had travel dreams, ever since I was little.
When I was a kid, I asked for a globe for Christmas. My fingers skimmed across the ridges and grooves of the mountains and oceans as it spun around. Wherever my finger was when it stopped was where I promised myself I would one day travel.
Most kids want to go to Disneyland, but I wanted to go further. I had travel dreams.
My Mom often took us to the library. While my sisters searched for books about princesses, I looked for stories about all the places I wanted to visit — Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, Corscia and other faraway islands. My travel dreams would allow me to find my way there so I could jump into the shimmering sea and learn about their ancient cultures. I didn’t know how and I didn’t know when, but I knew I would one day get to the places I visited in my travel dreams.
I dreamed of the mysterious canals of Venice — the hauntingly beautiful sound of the gondolieri wafting into the romantic air. Scooping up some delicious pasta in an alfresco restaurant, sauce so fresh it tastes as though I am biting into a tomato pulled straight from the Tuscan countryside, were part of my fantasy too.
I was only a kid, but for some reason these faraway destinations tugged at my heart. I had travel dreams.
Growing up in Canada, snow was a constant companion in the winter months. I tried skating and skiing, but I wasn’t very good at it. Mom enrolled me in an art class. My instructor was from Trinidad and as we painted, she shared stories of the colorful carnivals in sizzling, tropical cities.
I dreamed of dancing to salsa and calypso music on travels to Latin America.
When I was a kid, aside from trotting across the globe, I wanted to also be an oceanographer. I yearned to swim through a symphony of vibrant fish and discover pearly shells.
I dreamed of travels to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. One day I will go, I thought to myself.
I read various holy scriptures searching for stories of the great past. Christians gather in prayer in the incense-scented air of a shadowy church, Jews bow in reverence by a towering wall, and Muslims kneel in prayer.
I dreamed of visiting Jerusalem.
Our bedtime stories were tales from Dad’s childhood in Uganda. Swimming in murky lakes, standing at the equator, seeing giraffes in Kenya, eating mogo (casava) on his school lunch break, and running past fields of sugarcane. It seemed so different from the bland, suburban childhood I lived. Mom brought home a cardboard box of purple matunda (which is the Swahili word for passion fruit) whenever they were in season. It may as well have been a box of gold as much as I treasured those treats. The wrinkled outer layer revealed a sticky, tangy yellow goo inside with crunchy gelatinous seeds. She sprinkled some sugar on top and my sisters and I happily gobbled it up. My Dad rattled off the names of so many exotic sounding fruits he ate in Lugazi.
I had a travel dream of seeing where my parents grew up in Uganda.
Our family is originally from India. Both my grandmothers only ever wore a saree. When my maternal grandmother Sushila rolled fresh roti for us, she lathered them with generous amounts of butter that would melt down the side. My grandparents came from tiny villages in northwest India where the women still dress in vibrant traditional clothes and scatter their arms with clinking bangles and ears with heavy gold.
I dreamed of travel to see where my ancestors came from in Gujarat.
Today, the little girl in me would be proud to know that I have seen so many of the world’s lands. Traveled far and wide understanding cultures and cuisines. Digging into my family roots and discovering more about myself as I explore. Isn’t that what travel is all about?
A childhood travel dream realized.