The Value of Traveling
Until the last couple of years, I had only gone with the motions of vacationing. I would pack my bags, arrive at our destination, and simply “ooh and ahh” at the sights to see. Yeah, that building is pretty, but is there a story behind it? How or when was it built? Does it mean something special to the people that live around here? Or this festival that is going on down the street; what and why are they celebrating? Do they celebrate it anywhere else?
The sights are spectacular nonetheless, but sometimes I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out on something. Sometimes I would gape at things without even realizing that they were of significant importance to the city or even the country. I felt a little closed-minded about it all.
Now, I have become more curious about the sights that I have the opportunity to explore. Research could be what makes or breaks a good vacation. There’s so much to learn about, from pop culture, famous people, food, the wildlife, famous buildings, museums, traditions, the culture in general; I never really realized how much I missed out on because I never bothered to learn about it. But now, I will most definitely learn about all the sights to see so I can offer more insight to others and even myself.
With our trip to Chile, I was fortunate enough to learn a little about Chile from my Spanish class at school. My teacher coincidentally decided to teach us about mining within Chile (which is very big there and ore is one of their main exports) and also a famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. We ended up visiting two of his homes in Chile, La Chascona and La Sebastiana. If I hadn’t learned about him, I probably would’ve just begrudgingly walked around his house and stared at his books before moving on without really understanding why he was so important to Chile.
My classmates and I watched “Los 33”, a recent movie that recounts the story of the thirty-three miners that were stuck within the mine for 72 days until they were rescued within the combined efforts of the Chilean government and several other countries. Within that movie alone I learned about how Chile attained a large chunk of their land from a civil war with Bolivia, which was also brought up by locals at numerous different points in my trip. I also was able to explain to my parents at a National Park the importance of ore and salt. Because I knew a bit about the history and culture of Chile, it put so many different things in context.
What I’m trying to say is basically don’t just go somewhere to only “ooh” and “aah” at the sights. Before you gape at a monument or a building, do your research to find the true value of what you’re looking at. Learn a little something about the place you’re going to, as it really gives your destination so much more richness when exploring it.