Eyes wide open I boarded a jumbo. I remember the experience like it was yesterday, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t a year ago, or 2. It’s been 17 years since I first boarded a two-story plane and went on my first experiential journey. I still remember the fascination of going to Africa, I remember the Steve Irwinian dreams of seeing a Nile crocodile or a cobra. I remember the impression Kenya left in me because it marked me because it made me fall in love with a continent, it made me fall in love with Travel. I remember Europe and the contrasts I loved that trip. Seeing the smiles on the Masai and their lasting joy playing patty cake with me. I also remember the elegance and formality of
They say you never forget your first, and I never have my trip to Africa at six years old has stuck with me forever. Memories are more vivid than the trips I took last year. And yet it was just the first in a barrage of experiential journeys I have had the pleasure to be on, and the next frontier was Alaska. I was young, I was very young on a flight to what in my mind was the North Pole, this trip marked the beginning in a series of cruises we would do some far more touristic than others. Alaska, like Africa, holds a tiny little piece of my heart and here’s what you need to understand… I love nature, and I love feeling adventurous but knowing I’ll be back in a warm bed with a hot shower when I am done playing explorer. The experiences I lived in Alaska were second to none, I remember the freezing cold water seeping into my wading boots as I went deeper and deeper in a river in my search for salmon. I remember the freezing cold rocks on my feet as I ventured into a river in my underwear to attempt to catch a salmon. I’ve gone back to Alaska now three times and the midnight sun never loses it’s magic, the whales next to the ship never cease to amaze me, and the salmon fighting upstream is a sight I’ll never forget.
The experiences I lived in Alaska were second to none, I remember the freezing cold water seeping into my wading boots as I went deeper and deeper in a river in my search for salmon.
Travel doesn’t have to be complicated, and destinations don’t have to be exotic. Sometimes the most unique experiences are hidden right around the corner. Admittedly my first passion was not traveling nor was it Africa, Alaska, Europe or any location, it was, and it is the ocean. It stands to reason that some of my most cherished moments traveling have been in the sea. From floating in the crystal clear waters in the Bahamas to snorkeling in the deep blue ocean off Isla Mujeres alongside the grandiose whale shark.
The day was hot and humid, but the seas were flat, all we could see was blue, blue as far as the eye could see, big dorsal fins appeared in the horizon, and then they would dive down and disappear just for another dorsal to appear on the other side of the boat and go without a trace. The captain explained how we would jump in, he would try to intercept the whale shark, and the whale shark would swim past the back as it was passing through we could slide in and then, odds were, the gentle giant would go down into the depths, seemed easy enough. It all went as planned, we spotted a shark, the captain positioned his boat, the whale shark was right behind the boat. As Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth,” and the sight of a whale shark inches from me was a punch in the mouth. I jumped in the water right in front of the shark, I turn around and see the wide mouth coming my way. The shark passes me, and I chase after it, expecting it to descend into the darkness, but it didn’t it turned around and headed straight back to me, then I lost control. As it passes I break every rule, I had previously received, and I ended up getting towed away from the boat after hitching a ride on the dorsal fin, right when I thought my excitement had peaked, a second whale shark decided to make a quick appearance and towed me back to the boat. It was an odd feeling, it was bizarre I can’t explain what it was, but at that moment I felt a connection to the ocean, to the sharks, it was as if they knew I was there as if they welcomed me into their homes.
Traveling doesn’t have to be complicated; it doesn’t have to be to a far off exotic land, it doesn’t have to be expensive, or luxurious. Traveling, however, has to be memorable. When it is all set and done we won’t take our money with us, mansions, cars, yachts, watches, and materialistic good cease to matter when we cease to exist. A memory, an experience stays with us and changes us forever. Experiential travel may not be for everyone, but if it is for you, it is one hell of a way to make a memory.