My mother knew when she came to America that New York won’t be the only place in the world she would see. She already proved to herself she can leave Haiti, why can’t she visit the world? People always complain why they can’t leave town, visit some place new. Not my mother. I wasn’t even 5 yet when my mother took me to the Canada for the first time. It was the first time I got on an airplane, the first time I ever saw snow, the first time I realize how big this world really is.
Since then, we traveled everywhere. Before I turned 21, I would travel throughout the 50 states and around the world. Boston, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut, Baltimore, New Mexico, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Haiti and Dominican Republic. By the time I turned 23, I was travel to places like Tallahassee Florida and Arizona without my mother. I was now starting my own traveling adventures.
It’s amazing to me when I speak to friends, associates or random strangers and they tell me that they never left their home town. The only time they get to see the world is on TV, at the movies, on the internet, through virtual reality, etc. How is that even possible? Yes it cost money to travel but if you can find money to buy things you don’t need then you can afford to travel. I tell dudes in the hood every day, if you can afford to buy weed, pills, alcohol, entry fees to go to a party, bar or club every week then you can afford to travel. You just got to manage your spending and cash flow. The reason you should travel the world is so you can think out the box. You can’t see outside yourself until you see how other people live on the other side of the earth.
I lived in Haiti between 2003 and 2004. It was the most humbling experience I ever had. Before Haiti, I was a spoiled American brat. I didn’t even realize it until I slowly didn’t have all the things I took for granted back home. No daily electricity, no daily TV or internet access. No running water. No train stations. No food delivery. If I wanted to order something from Amazon, I had to ask and give the money to my principal Mr. Ben (who was also an American) to order it for me. Things like Dominos pizza and KFC became a luxury especially since you have to travel to the other side of town to get it. You appreciate the little things when you have to boil water for hot shower or drink water out of a plastic bag.
Now of course no one would ask for that experience but I dont regret them at all because I experience the Haitian lifestyle. It was like little house on the prairie, west indian style. I can’t say I knew what it meant to be Haitian until that moment. It allowed me to change. I lost over 30 pounds in almost 3 months not eating all the processed food I was eating back home. In New York, I had candy, soda, fast and junk food on a daily basis. Not in Haiti. Everyday it was fish and rice or Rice and chicken. If I had anything else, it means I saved what little money I had for a special treat like quiche or hamburgers but you have to be careful where you bought it. One time I went to buy a burger and they made the patty out of meatball. You know how disappointing it was to take a bite of that and taste spaghetti and meatballs instead of a whopper or big mac?
But not only did those moments make me appreciate the little things, it helped me connect to people on a different level. When you take out all the stuff we claim we need today, you’re only left with what the world has had since the beginning of time. People. The stories I’ve been told, the laugher I’ve shared, the dances I had with women I may never see again. I even had my first kiss when I was out there. Plenty of those experience I doubt I would of had if I stayed in New York. It was also the first time my brother and I traveled on our own without our mother, traveling to Dominican Republic for spring break with other people from our school.
Today we live through social media and when we do anything we spend all our time creating images for social media instead of just experiencing it and recording a moment of it. Traveling, you get experience that you pretend to create for social media. Traveling forces you to meet other people, learn different cultures, try food you never had before, meet people you may never see again, traveling allow you to experience life outside of the box we are put in at home. It also helps you help you relate to other people from different cultures. You can find common ground when you see that no matter where you all in the world, we are all going through the similar struggles