Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why Are You Here?

Yoda asked that question of Luke Skywalker on Degoba, Khan grilled Chekhov with it on Seti Alpha V and a local asked me the same thing one fine day on my first visit to her country. Being a minority and an American I could have taken instant offense but instead I knew what she meant and smiled:

“I’ve never been to New Zealand before and wanted to see what it’s like.”

Hello and welcome to The Traveling Optimist! The idea is to explore every facet of the travel experience using my experience as a 20-year industry insider and now as a customer. While there will be views on traveling, shopping, touring and dining in unique places around the world the main focus is meeting people, interacting with their culture on their turf and sharing what I do and don't know about mine.

One of the things I hear quite often from locals is how I’ve been to places and seen things they’ve hardly ever bothered with. Nearly every visitor to England goes to Stonehenge but I was quite alone the day I went to Southampton to view the pier from which the Titanic sailed and other places of interest around the town. Other than why I’m there, however, I am more often asked what it’s like to be an American which really allows for a much longer conversation and deeper sense of understanding.

Yes, yes, nosy and suspicious people with rude manners, a fear of outsiders or nothing better to do pose this challenge all the time but so do people from all walks and in all corners who are simply not expecting visitors. Behind the audacity is perhaps a more innocent question of validation. New Zealand is not alone in seeing larger neighboring countries receive greater numbers of visitors.

“Yes, I came here on purpose.”“Good on ya, mate!”

Who needs another complaint blog, although a few posts like that on here are inevitable. Join me every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8AM Central Standard Time for new posts in an ongoing journey of personal enrichment and discovery on this floating boulder we call Earth.

Thank you, stay tuned, and look for my first post on Friday, July 10th, 2009.

Gotta Go!

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