Journey of the Senses: Part 4 – Touch

Touch is one of the senses that might not be immediately linked to travel, but it’s essential for life. Babies can’t thrive without it. So I started thinking about those great travel moments that impacted my life. I was surprised by the memories that came back to me. 

Falls of Baleine, St. Vincent & The Grenadines:  What better feeling than to be standing under a 60’ cascading waterfall – well if you asked my son it would be jumping from up above into the fresh water pool.  I enjoy quietly slipping behind the cool waterfall and observing from a little rock platform. This is a favourite picnic area where I take my groups when leading cultural tours to St. Vincent.   

Perugia, Italy: This is probably not one you might expect from a traveller, but on one trip while developing cultural tours in Italy, I was stayed for a month in a small hilltop town in Italy called Monte Castello di Vibio – population 200 – near Perugia in the Umbria Region.  The Mayor popped in to greet me my first evening. No one spoke English except my translators who had an art school in this charming village. As you might expect, it did not take long to get immersed in village life. When one resident got seriously ill he was taken to the hospital in Perugia. It was the villages duty to care for him at the hospital and so when it was my turn I found myself sitting with a man I didn’t know who couldn’t speak English, holding his hand and sharing stories.  It was a profound connection which transcended all cultural differences … humanity in its finest moments.   

Grande Rivière, Trinidad: Mothers out there will certainly understand this one. There is a 1 km beach on the northeast coast of Trinidad which is a prime nesting site for the Leatherback turtle. This was my first time going out at night to witness these huge turtles (some 6 ft long) lumbering up the beach, digging their nests and laying their eggs before returning to the sea for another 25 years.  A female turtle will swim around the world and return to the same beach where they were born.  This alone boggles my mind.  On this particular night, I sat patiently and just after midnight, I witnessed a turtle come up the beach.  My guide and I moved closer – almost intrusively.  I spoke to the turtle who had tears running down her face.  I’m a mother and empathetically thought it was labour and when I thought of her leaving her babies when she returned to the sea – I started to cry with her.  The guide gave me permission to touch her, which I’m not proud of knowing what I know now.  I spoke to her Mother to Mother.  It wasn’t until many years later I discovered that a turtle’s tears are their way of washing salt water from their eyes. To this day I remember that touch which went all the way to my heart.

Havana, Cuba:   On another scouting trip, this time developing cultural tours in Cuba, I spent Mother’s Day visiting a friend’s family in a small fishing village just outside Havana.  The custom on this special day, is for the children to gather round and sing Happy Birthday to a Mother (me) and give her a special cake. Due to the rationing in Cuba, I felt profoundly honoured as I ate the cake, while the family watched.  Thank heavens I had the foresight to bring gifts, including bubbles for the children to play with.  As I held the baby, I thought of my own son back home without his Mother on Mother’s Day.  It was bittersweet.

Now it’s your turn to sit back, close your eyes and recall the TOUCH sensations that bring back memories of travels past.

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