Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Dangers of Modern Travel

As we prepare for our adventure to Peru, I though I'd share a few interesting bits from a book I am currently reading - A Sacred Landscape: The Search for Ancient Peru by Hugh Thompson.

Early in the book, Thomson discusses the dangers of modern travel. He writes  “… in the speed of arrival made possible by modern technology, the mind often gets left behind, leaving the traveler dislocated and vulnerable. It is not just the luggage that can get lost in transit.” According to Wikipedia, the typical cruising airspeed for a long-distance commercial passenger aircraft 546–575 mph. That IS fast. We take off from Atlanta and arrive in Lima in less than 8 hours.

Were past explorers, like Hiram Bingham (the guy who discovered Machu Picchu), better prepared for their expeditions after long ocean voyages that took about five days? This travel time served to clear their minds of home and daily routines and allow them time to mentally prepare for the journey ahead.

Machu Picchu covered by overgrown jungle in 1912

Thompson also wonders if it is possible to be too prepared for an expedition stating, “as an explorer, you only ever find what you are looking for.” He suggests that what is required is not an open mind, which perhaps lets too much in, “but an infinitely responsive one, alive with the possibilities of each discovery, approaching without any preconceptions.”

Now, I realize we are not archeologists about to embark on an expedition to discover a long lost Inca city, but today, many of us are likely scrambling to wrap up work and family duties before we depart, only to find ourselves on foreign soil in less than a day. And, with smart phones, emails, social media and the like, do we mentally leave home? We check in, answer emails, post pics and status updates, and work online, all of which keeps us perpetually connected with home life.

As we explore archaeological sites, taste new foods, and meet new people, we will discover so much, about Peru and ourselves. Hopefully, we can all unplug for a while, leave home behind, be alive with the possibilities each day brings, take a deep breath and try not to lose our minds in transit.

Three days!

Hugh Thompson. A Sacred Landscape: The Search for Ancient Peru. Overlook. 2006.
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