• Richie Crowley

I Can’t Wait To Travel Again

Actually, I can wait and I will wait, but the moment that it’s no longer a health risk, I’m going to travel the world because I believe one side-effect of this pandemic will remain.

Since December, global travel has become more and more restricted by the day. Right now the thing to do is stay inside, but I’m ready for when trusted experts deem traveling no longer a public health risk and I want to let a few people, and a few places know that I can’t wait to see them again.

During shelter-in-place, we’re saving money. Or at least we should be. And with stimulus packages passing, we may even receive a little relief in the coming weeks. We should be saving money because our expenses have significantly decreased. No dining out, no flights, no hotels, no weddings, no bachelor or bachelorette parties, no uber’s, just groceries, phone plans, rent, utilities, and maybe a few streaming services.

With the money I’m not spending, what I’ve done is create a support slush fund that I’ve been contributing to weekly and will continue to do so until health experts deem it safe to remove travel restrictions as we return to “normal” life.

Why am I doing this?

Well, because I can’t wait to travel again.

This slush fund isn’t a senior year spring break fund, it’s reserved to support those who are being hit hardest right now. This desire to travel again is to hug loved ones, smile at strangers, and truly live. We can’t always rely on tragedy to add perspective to our lives, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t share that I am tender right now.

I’m excited for the day I can land at Boston’s Logan Airport and visit my grandparents who have been sealed off from family for 2+ months now.

I’m excited to return to Italy, where I’ll see my family. Uncles who cheat at Scoppia, and local elderly men who will be suspicious when I decline their wine offerings. To window shop the streets of Milan’s Brera neighborhood or the spend an afternoon walking the canals of Navigli, dodging children with melted Gelato still stained on their cheeks. Or even to the cliffs of Portovenere, where I’ll risk a sting from a barrel jellyfish so that I can feel the thrill of the local jump again.

Or, to visit Kruger National Park in Northern South Africa, where the Black Mambas, an all-female anti-poaching unit protect Rhinos in the region.

And then on to Nigeria, Lagos specifically where I can eat Jollof and roadside Suya, go to a 36-hour party at Quilox, run on the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge, dance to afrobeat at Fela’s Shrine and then relax on the sand at Takwa Bay.

I’m excited to walk the streets of Seville, Spain and Porto, Portugal with a Panama hat purchased from a street vendor in Lisbon.

To explore Hong Kong, on the roof of a double-decker trolley that might take me to Victoria Peak, so that I can point out the Nectarhk restaurant for dinner and recommend dessert at the Tung Po restaurant, owned by a man with a blue mohawk who makes his own boots.

Oh, and to hitchhike through Iran, a country where good friends have family, and a Russian backpacker that I met in India once told me that it was Iran where he met the most hospitable people in the world. So much, that a planned weeklong trip took 5 because he didn’t want to leave this love.

Then to go to Jordan. To visit the lost city of Petra without a phone to admire it, and capture it only in my memories.

I’m excited to discover Pakistan, where a high school friend has returned each summer and I’ve promised to join him.

Better, to Ireland, where my childhood best friend returns every summer so that we can swim with the Dusty the Doolin Pier dolphin or the whales off the Cliffs of Moher.

I want to hear the emerging music scene of Baghdad, where an Iraqi coffee-shop owner in Vienna last Christmas told me of the reggae scene he and his cousin were raised in. And that he could introduce me to, should I ever visit his childhood home. I will.

Then, to Turkey. To have lunch in Asia, and dinner in Europe. To window shop the Galata neighborhood, purchase an Orhan Pamuk novel and wait for a nighttime dance circle on Istiklal street.

I’m excited to visit Costa Rica, to explore the Nicoya peninsula and learn the recipes of their centenarians.

And then to visit Argentina, to sacrifice sleep for the soles of my converse sneakers, dancing through them night after night, swapping them for sandals for the flight home.

Or the flight to Jamaica, where I’ll explore the dancehall culture of Kingston, and keep up with the newest moves. Or at least try to learn them.

Then I’ll return to India, to see my friends in Mumbai and practice yoga in Rishikesh where last time I was too ill to participate in, but not ill enough to stay dry from the Ganges. Then I’ll go south to Goa, to visit a man named Bond who owns an Italian beach cafe named Mama Cecilias that serves no Italian food but does have a moped that I’ll borrow and use to find Sundeep, the coconut man just outside Candolim Beach.

When the time comes I am going to fly, to rent a car, to stay at hotels, hostels, and homes, and I want to let everyone in those industries, large and small, from cafe owners to coconut men, know that I will invest in you.

I fucking promise I will come, and I will spill this fund into you.

I won’t do this from guilt, but because I want to. I want to interact with strangers from across the world once we find the other side of this because I know this level of compassion and empathy that we all share will not disappear.

We will be scarred, but we will be together, and with each hug, handshake, and homemade dinner I embrace in the future, we’ll be reminded of our shared humanity, and I hope that is what makes this world a better place.

Nationalism is said to increase during war. Today, when the whole world is vulnerable yet unified, globalism at peer-to-peer levels is increasing.

I know you’re hurting right now, but trust that I will come back.

We will come back.

Richie. Human.


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