Do you remember your first travel experience, the one when you were on your own for the first time? How fresh the world seemed, how challenging? Everything was new , you felt as if you were the first to discover the world outside your small universe. Those first days and weeks of independence danced and whirled in your head as you broke free of the confines that had bound you. It was your ‘rite of passage’, moment. The time when you discovered who you were….at long last.
Those first days are the memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life. A psychologist would call them ‘flashbulb memories’. When an experience is reinforced with strong emotion it will dig itself into the long term memory with strings attached like a connecting webbing to the sensory minutia present at the time of the event. You will remember the time of day, the smells in the air, the temperature, who and what was around you, everything, in exacting detail. A memory as perfect and as real as the instant it occurred, bliss.
Trisha and I have the good luck of being in places where we can observe and interact with newbie travelers. The first time fun and foibles of a virgin traveler show up as excitement in their eyes, a shortness of breath, an overly enthusiastic emotion at encountering the simplest things, in short they are like puppies in a basket, tumbling through the day. And of course they do the most adorable things. We wonder if we were ever that cute. We came across a young couple recently who made us laugh.
“The maids have been taking all our dishes”, they complained. ‘The Kids’ as we referred to them could not reconcile how it was that the stock of dishes supplied to their vacation apartment kitchenette was dwindling piece by piece everyday, until they were reduced to eating out of jars and packages with plastic forks and spoons. “We’ve got nothing left”, the young Aussie girl said, her eyes cloaked in suspicion. It was a mystery the first time travelers could not explain. The only explanation was that it must be ‘the maids stealing the silver’.
“Have you checked the dishwasher?” I suggested. The ‘kids’ locked eyes with a laser beam of instant recognition. “Oh shit”, the boy said. “Do we ever feel stupid”. Sure enough, the cleaners had been stacking the dirty dishes into the dishwasher that had most likely been found scattered throughout the suite. I can’t remember being 25, but this was funny, and cute. The embarrassment and elation will probably have been enough to reinforce that moment of ‘discovery’ and they will laugh until they’re old at the time ‘the maids were stealing all the dishes’.