Just the tip…just for a minute…just to see how it feels…
The lure of forbidden fruit has long driven the desires of men and women alike. It is a longing that is tied into our very basic human nature: to experience everything that life has to offer…especially when it is something dangerous, exotic, unknown and exhilarating.
Every explorer in the history of mankind has felt this pull, not simply in their loins when a romantic opportunity presents itself, but also in their hearts and minds as they looked outwards, upwards and downwards, across the seas, into the skies and space above, and into the depths of the oceans themselves. It is through following this longing, this desire, that they have uncovered the greater mysteries that our planet has to offer, discovered the greatest secrets of our planet and the universe itself.
But it is only when mankind is pushed to the edge of passion and reason do we rise above the challenge and uncover the true potential in all of us. It is this allure, this desire to taste the forbidden fruits just out of reach, that drives us to succeed. The safety of home, the condomized Western tourist experience where suburbia is recreated through all-inclusive hotels and streamlined adventure tours with five-star accommodations and armed guards, does not lead to the discovery of the unknown. It is only through unprotected, passionate and wild exploration that we uncover the true nature of humanity and culture.
Going In Dry
Which of the following do you think makes a more indelible mark on the mind of an individual? A five-star hotel with a wall around it separating the compound from the city in which it is located, complete with a guided tour that picks you up from the air-conditioned lobby and ferries you from tourist hotspot to restaurant to pool-side bar to massage parlor to all-inclusive resort, all while separating yourself from the locals via English-only menus, tour guides and service that cater to your every suburbanite whim…
…or an immersive trip into the unknown with nothing but your wits, your survival skills, your camera, your passion for travel, your basic communication skills, your desire to communicate with the locals on their own turf, in their language, meeting them on equal footing as another member of the human race?
It is a scientific fact that the most vivid memories in a person’s life are those which are marked by some sort of memorable event. The mundane, the safe, the easy, the comfortable, these are not memorable, and as such these types of memories are the quickest to fade away into the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life. They are the same, and thus there is nothing to separate them from all the others, and the mind quickly forgets.
Episodes of passion, of surprise, of fear, traumatic events, and those moments when you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, out of the ordinary, truly experiencing life and everything that it has to offer…these are the memories which stand out from the rest because they are full of actual experience, taken in during the moment and savored equally by your body, mind and spirit.
The mundane, the ordinary, the normal, the routine, the everyday life of suburbia…this is not a life worth remembering, and it is for this reason that these memories fade the quickest. But moments of pleasure, moments of passion, raw and unprotected and experiencing life as it happens, without the safety net of condomized travel, these are what define you and your experience as a traveler.
The Human Connection
The best part about unprotected traveling is that it just feels better. There’s no protective covering numbing you from the actual experience. It’s raw, visceral, up close and personal. And if you want to enjoy the sensation you make the moments last as long as possible with long, slow and immersive treks, making sure to plumb the depths of every destination, to uncover every nook and cranny. A quickie just won’t do; it’s all about prolonging the ecstasy, milking every last drop of experience that you can from each culture.
Unprotected travelers revel in the discovery, the flavors, the people, the cultures, savoring every morsel. They are not interested in the safe, secure, quick, in-and-out, rushed and soon-forgotten experiences in a destination. They prefer to lovingly caress each culture with the slow embrace of a lover who takes their time, using every sense to truly explore the location to its fullest. They speak the language, live at the local level, respect the residents and the culture and meet the natives on equal footing.
And while the protected traveler walks away from the experience with nothing more than a used wrapping which is thrown away in the trash can before moving on to the next destination, the unprotected explorer spends many nights with the same lover, fully immersed and embedded deeply in the warmth and comfort, making memories that will last a lifetime as opposed to those which fade away as soon as the trash is taken out.