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Published: February 24th 2012
“A saucy temptress indeed, this beautiful city seduces one wide eyed wander too smart to grow up after another.” --Hannah Wallace Bowman, in her article in “La Cuadra” magazine, February, 2012, describing Antigua, Guatemala.
One of the questions people seem to ask me is … what is your favorite place in the world? I used to answer that question but now it doesn’t really make sense to me. I think the shift in my thinking is a convolution of prolonged travel to incredible places and living in the now. If you really are living in awareness, your favorite place in the world just may be where you are sitting. Even if you had to fool yourself to believe this, which I haven’t, you’ll have the best seats in the house.
Later in her article about Antigua, Hannah states, “Get out now, possibly? … You will never be the same afterwords. But maybe its too late already. Perhaps, by now, “home” is as faraway a concept to you, as it had become to me, …. You’re lost. You’re one of us."
She is touching on an unspoken feeling I have had since leaving India. The rug has been pulled
from beneath me and the comfort I once found in familiar places and with familiar people has been replaced with a new kind of comfort. This new comfort comes in experiencing a new place with wide eyes of youth. Discovering a charming new place with the awareness of the present moment.
I have learned to experience new places from an empty slate. Things are so different in India from the USA, and it still somehow works, that I have been shocked into giving up on the idea that there is a better way, a better place, or a correct way. With this empty slate, I get to see a new place and fall in love with her like a first love. I study the curves in her face, how she giggles and walks; she is my first love. There was no love before her. There is no room for the past when you love that intensely.
Have I become a serial monogamist of travel. Have I cast away Hannah’s attachment to one place? I no longer long for returning to the past? I have no first or true love? Instead, I become so engulfed in the nuances of
each new place that I don’t compare or think of old? I no longer compare a new love to a past love, but I see it as a first love?
Yet Hannah and I are both stuck. She is stuck on an old love, my present love, Antigua. Am I stuck on the excitement of discovering my next love? Next week, I head to meet my new love, Flores, Guatemala. If I am able to love Flores without suffering the loss of Antigua, will I then be a confirmed serial traveling monogamist? Will I ever long for an old favorite again as Hannah does?
Antigua may have forgotten you Hannah for I haven’t heard her mistakenly whisper your name.
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