Thursday, July 10, 2014

Germany: Mannheim...and Ponderings on Travel

Who we are affects how we travel. I had only thought of this in the broadest of terms, as, years ago, I firmly believed that travel (and reading) were the best ways to broaden one's horizons. Then I met the former owner of our first house at the signing of the final papers. He was someone who had lived abroad and had nothing nice to say of the native population of the countries he had been in. He was also vulgar, inconsiderate AND stole the ladder leading up to the upper story of the old granary in front of our noses. Pah.
I guess you have to be somewhat interesting, and interested in the world for travel to make you more so. So much for my theory. (see below)

This morning, however, I realized the effect one's nationality can have on how you act in another country. Thierry and I left together and had a coffee on his way to the office today. He walked in to the bakery/cafe and spoke in English, just as I was formulating my sentence in German. Neither of us speaks German, but he tried English right off the bat, as naturally as I will struggle and do my best to explain in the local language until the dead horse has either been brought back to life or completely perished. 

He is French; English, for him, is just a tool, a fairly universal way of communicating.

I am American; English means imperialism, an expectation that I can go anywhere and get by with nothing but the language that comes most easily to me. Why make an effort? "Everyone speaks English."

I had a moment.            I love having moments.

My theory: experiencing another way of life opens up your mind to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there is not only one way to do things. Other people make it work other ways. Travel, like reading great books, seeing great works of art and hearing great music, learning another language, is not a necessity. They are all ways though, of making one's life a little richer, a little deeper, giving you a little more to think about on a rainy day.

I am going to dash between raindrops today to try to take a few photos. Here is what I see from the hotel room balcony, it is the only place I have dared use the camera so far. The Facebook shots (if you do Facebook) are all from my phone.

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