it's not all eat. pray. love.
Day 99 & 100 Palm Springs, a drive back to LAX
There's barely two days left of this; our hundred-day flight from home. One of my favourite quotes is by
If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest...than our travels. They express... an understanding of what life might be about, outside the constraints of work and the struggle for survival.
On our last day in Palm Springs, we're treating ourselves to a special brunch at
. The waiters outnumber the guests by 3 to 1, it's so early in the morning. They all wear white pants. On the table across from us, a tiny little gryphon is ensconced on a chair, being fed bits of toast and waffle.
The next day, we're listlessly wandering another Ikea, then another open-air shopping mall near Santa Monica. We're killing time till our evening flight home; fourteen hours of nothing. It's a sort of ignoble end to our trip.
I think back to the Filipino waitress in our hotel in Petra. I asked her, astonished, "What are you doing here?" In Wadi Musa, Jordan? In this dusty, provincial town where the women are non-existent on the streets, goats wander the road, and men sit on plastic stools on the sidewalks, sizing you up as you walk past. She shrugged and merely replied, "I'm on an expedition."
An expedition. What a wonderfully old-fashioned word, last used when King Tut's tomb was still being dug from the sand. I had to look it up.
1. an excursion, journey, or voyage made for some specific purpose, as of war or exploration
Maybe there's no use asking
Why Wadi Musa?
The question instead is, what's your purpose? The place you choose to go really only has a supporting role. Why did you go? What was your purpose? What where you searching for?
De Botton's quote resonates for people who think of travel as a hobby, for people who can afford to be bored at home, for people whose struggle for survival is mild and actually pretty comfortable. Painful to admit, people like
Tourists travel. Usually, they take a week or two, snap their pictures, go back home. It's an exercise, not of free will, but of something someone else has told them they
Sometimes it's not done out of a genuine curiosity about the world; instead, it's a stamp in a passport, pictures on a bookshelf at home, magnets on your refrigerator. It's your friends in Europe who hoard long weekends and travel to Iceland, to Amsterdam, to [
insert new hot travel destination here
] and after three days in a city, like to say firmly,
Yes I've been there. Have you been to?
This kind of travel harks back to days when families would send their kids to an overseas boarding school, pretending it wasn't to get rid of them, but instead in a bid to ensure their kids were "well-rounded." Like an international finishing school.
So why did we go? To escape? What a fruitless reason. Escape isn't escape if you're only coming back to the place you're fleeing from. So, again, what was our purpose? What were we searching for?