There are many ways
to organize a holiday and many ways to ruin one!
If you want to go to New York with your children and have asked
for that hotel with a view of Central Park, no one can guarantee
that your room will not be “sold” if your
plane happens to be late. You’ll spend an evening arguing
pointlessly, getting a very polite but equally unconvincing “We
are so sorry”… and a couple of rooms with a view
of the back alley.
No one will guarantee that the boat you hired to go fishing at
the Cape Verde Islands will be there waiting for you, even though
you feel you’re on top of the world with your Internet reservation,
which you have printed out and are waving threateningly in front
of some weary listener.
The same holds true when, in the Virgin Islands, a family from
Detroit with four children (aged 2 to 10) taking turns with bouts
of dysentery happens to be lodging next to the romantic little
bungalow you chose from the pictures the persuasive travel agent
Stepping outside the familiar walls of home always represents
an unknown and must be faced as such, knowing that the world is
full of deserts with polystyrene sand and coin-operated camels,
mock shamans and fake Berber dances.
I must confess that I am a pedantic, one obsessed with “tell
me, what time does the sun set?”, but the top executives
from the travel department of a “well-known credit card
company” have learned to put up with me and, from Baja
California to India, New Zealand and Laos, they have always kept
my dream from becoming a nightmare. I know that when I go somewhere,
I am not a fleeting apparition that the greedy local hotelier
will never see again. And that is why I always ostentatiously
display the bag tag, which not only gives me a sense of security
but also tends to inspire dread.
As I said, I plan my trip down to the last detail and then I bring
everything to the travel office of a “well-known credit
card company”. When I see the sheets vanish magically
into the fax machine, I know they have set something into motion
that, from Cape Horn to the Kamchatka Peninsula, will give me
answers. Even if everything is not really all that simple (because
my trips are never simple), until the day I leave I will constantly
be informed by the voice of the physically unknown woman who talks
to me, becoming a fundamental part of my day. Along the way, we
forge a strange bond, a sort of complicity that solves the unsolvable,
booking passage on an icebreaker instead of a whaleboat. The impossible
is never actually impossible: at most, it becomes improbable.
Thus, my journey also becomes the journey of that voice, in which
I perceive that there is a world on which “the sun never
There are many ways to travel and each person has the one he or
she thinks is perfect. Consequently, I have no advice to give,
except to avoid being a number, a face among many, a relationship
that ends when, before you depart, you go to the bank to wire
money to someone who will soon forget you… and move on.