If you forced me to choose between music and literature or music and visual art, I wouldn’t choose music either time. Yeah, I know. I am the only person. I love music, don’t get me wrong, but I’m an extremely visual person, and so if I’m only going to get one form of art, it needs to be something I can look at.
When I travel, my itinerary generally includes things that I want to see – museums, art, architecture, movies, landscapes, and so on. I understand that experiencing a new place is about more than that, so generally I try to scratch the surface with everything else: going to concerts or listening to live music in a pub never initially crosses my mind, but I’ll do it. Nice restaurants are generally not on my list because food is never a main attraction for me, either — I try to have at least one or two nice meals in each place I visit, because I do want to try the local cuisine, but once I’ve gotten a taste of it I pretty much just stick to whatever is the least expensive thing.
I guess it’s difficult to think of a city in terms of smells — that would probably go into the food category, too, and maybe things like flowers or spices. As for the sense of touch — maybe that would involve dancing barefoot on the beaches in the south of France, treating myself to a massage one afternoon in Spain, or putting a hand on the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. I’ve done all of those things, but they weren’t planned.
I need to break out of this routine. In January, I don’t only want to look at Central America, I want to interact with it completely. I want to actively seek out and eat things I’ve never eaten, smell flowers I’ve never even heard of, listen to music with unfamiliar rhythms (dancing optional, pending alcohol), and come into contact with things that I have only ever been able to touch as pictures in a book — waterfalls, ancient ruins, the tops of volcanoes.
I think a large part of it will be the change of setting — almost every other country I’ve visited has been a European one, and Europe is all about the sights — you look at museums, at art, at architecture, at bridges, at the landscapes outside your train window. It’s known for being pretty, so of course we all want to go over there and look at it. I did Europe right, I think, but now I’m ready to try something else.
New place, new strategy. Hopefully no new injuries or allergies.