The second of “Your Stories”, this post is written by Diana Meraz. Diana and I are cousins and travel companions, traversing across the United States and Ecuador together. We’ve shared so many memories, and now she wishes to pass that good fortune along to her children.
Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.
I understood the value of experience when I was younger and I remember its importance now that I am a bit older, married with two children. I come from a multi-cultural family who instilled my current passion for learning about other cultures. My mother is half Cuban and of Turkish-descent, while my father is half Israeli and half Persian (Iranian). I grew up hearing many languages at home, eating a variety of ethnic food, and practicing different customs. From within me grew a love and admiration for the beauty that is diversity. Born in Jerusalem, I grew up in South Florida, and then lived in Massachusetts, Budapest, Tel Aviv, and New York. I recently relocated back to South Florida to give my children the upbringing I recall so fondly.
I wish for…
Aside from the many valuable life lessons I want to preach to my children, I wish for them to fall in love with travel. I wish for them to want to spend a month volunteering on an organic farm in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador, sleeping in a mosquito net in a tree house (literally), eating with beautiful Hare Krishna people, and hearing stories about what it’s like to live off the land. Maybe they can avoid the compost toilets and freezing showers; but I wish for them to appreciate gazing at the stars at night like I did in Ecuador. I wish for them to experience the clearest of views in the night sky, looking like a dark blanket covered in diamonds.
I wish for my children to study and live abroad anywhere that they please. They could choose a place where we have extended family or friends. Or they could follow in my footsteps. Point to a map, say “eeny-miny-mo”, and without question, book a flight to Hungary. They could walk into a small shop and be greeted with a warm “Jó reggelt!” from the locals. They could experience a $20 euro bus ride that can take them to Prague, Vienna, Latvia, and all the amazing neighboring places in Eastern/Central Europe while exploring new territory with their classmates.
I wish for them to walk to a bus stop on a Saturday in the middle of busy Tel Aviv, only to sit there and wait…until they realize the bus doesn’t come on Shabbat. I wish for them to feel the energy of the peaceful city, grab some fruit and a good book, and walk to the beach with friends. I wish for them to work hard at their first job out of college, whether it be a boutique hotel in Manhattan or any other industry. Although it will be tough, I wish for them to learn responsibility with finances, save money from their hard-earned paychecks, and put it in a travel piggy bank. When it is finally full, they can book an incredibly adventurous trip. They can escape New York City’s brutal winter and travel throughout Costa Rica on horseback (just kidding, mostly) with their childhood best friend.
Best Times of My Life
When I think about what might be the best years of my life, I realize I am probably experiencing them now with my growing family. (Really? Hmmm…I should keep telling myself this when my toddlers are screaming at bedtime.) However, I never cease to daydream about the years spent investing in my mental capacity to grow and appreciate global diversity while on a journey to find out who I am and what drives me every day. Travel is my other child whom I loved from the day we met and who will never leave my heart. My only wish is to reconnect it to my family so they can experience the passion I’ve been so fortunate to have in my lifetime.