Monkeys in the Jungle or Cows on the Plains?

Is what we find exotic a complete departure from our world?

My darling husband grew up in the jungles of The Amazon in a very special place in the state of Choco, Colombia. Nonchalantly, he would tell me quips about his childhood that I found jaw dropping such as coming across sloths and pressing branches in their hands to watch them snap, listening to monkeys in the jungle canopy and dodging the things the monkeys threw, and traversing down tributaries on homemade rafts to get to obscure towns. The stories are spellbinding.  I can’t imagine having such rich and idllic experiences growing up.

This next sentiment does not pertain to John however, but many people who grew up in anything less than large urban centers in the jungle in Colombia, do not like to advertise this information. I suspect that the abject racism and elitism in Colombia and much of Latin America shames their exotic and amazing upbringing. Pity.  It’s a proud history, I think anyway.  People in America don’t shy away from having grown up in the Montana Mountains, for example.  Conversely, I think they rather celebrate their rugged backgrounds. I am very proud of growing up in the St. Louis city during the late 70’s and 80’s.

And so during many of the trips John and I have taken over the years, I have cajoled him into adventures that he found mundane not to mention senseless based on his upbringing but entirely spectacular in reference to my concrete, urban St. Louis City upbringing. Visiting money sanctuaries in Bali, rafting down a river in Boneo, and seeing waterfalls in the Caribbean are among the few.  

This was my first experience seeing a money outside of a zoo. Notice the folks in the back grown are completely uninterested with their primate cousin which captivates me.

What is his response?  

  • Monkeys throw sh%t at you 
  • I grew up rafting down rivers, you have to be careful about paranas
  • Sure, waterfalls are pretty.

He’s a darling sport and we did every one of those things not to mention a few extra no Amazon man should like horseback riding and riding dune buggies through mud.

John riding a horse. This horse was less than happy to carry John through the hills and tried to throw and bite John. I promised no more horse rides.
One of the reasons to travel is to have fresh eyes for our own home in which we live and reside day-to-day. My girlfriend Sonya, a photographer from Argentina, now lives in Kansas City. I am in awe over her amazement and interest in what she sees with the Midwest.  She’ll spend hours in Kansas’ countryside photographing he landscape. 

 I admit that I am quick to dismiss the scenery here. However, she finds so much beauty and interest in photographing a pasture of cows, rusted horseshoes, and a dilapidated barn in a forgotten field.    And then, I too see the beauty that I had so quickly brushed aside.  

I suspect that this phenomenon occurs all over the world. Perhaps Aussies see a kangaroo as nothing more than an annoyance whereas a visitor to the island continent might fall over with wonderment. Maybe the same is true for a Westerner when gazing on a hard-to-reach pagoda in Southeast Asia. 

Statues on a temple in Bangkok.

Discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes. – Marcel Proust

Between my trips, travelers to my home town make me pause to reflect what they see and the beauty that unfolds and they help me become a traveler in my own land. 


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