June 05, 2009
When I was around 8, 9, 10, I was in airports all the time. My parents, who moved to San Diego a few years before I was born from a distant land, kept picking up and dropping off friends and family visiting from The Old Country, and various other countries.
These people came, stayed on our pull-out couch, and brought stories and strange clothes and strange habits from far away. I adored every minute of every visit.
At 11, my whole family pitched in for my first flight over the ocean, to see The Old Country. I stayed with my mom's childhood best friend, who had a son my age. We became friends instantly. And from then, I was hooked. Every time I went to the airport, I wished I was the one on the next flight out.
Little has changed since then. Airfare sale? Summer job opening? Research project? Study abroad? Spare couch? I'm there!!!
So when, tonight, I overheard a conversation between two people at a bar -- a travel agent and a friend who lives in this city -- about a trip they were planning to Brazil, I couldn't help myself.
The agent, two times older, cooler and calmer than the twenty-somethings downing cocktails all around him, proceeded to explain the trip he was envisioning in lyrical detail.
Arrive I forget where. Take a jeep to I don't know where. Travel around from south to north with his local guides, into rivers and swamps, where the jungle is so dense it looks like the deep of night. His fingers, pointing at an invisible map of Brazil, stopped at the top right corner, where the trip would conclude two weeks later.
I couldn't take it anymore.
"Can I come?!" I cut in.
They both looked at me, not exactly unfriendly, but a little taken aback.
"I've always wanted to go to Brazil," I added, as if that were a credential.
"Actually, she's a good traveler," my friend interjected, as the agent considered my somewhat frantic request. "She's been to Peru."
"Peru, really? Where did you go?"
"Into the jungle. The north. Got eaten alive by mosquitos and had a brush with malaria."
"Ok, then you'll come too," he pronounced.
The trip is tentatively set for August.
It would be a dream come true.
The price tag, which he outlined for us at the end of the conversation, could top 3000 euros.
Pocket change for a successful corporate travel agent.
But for a daily asker used to budget vacations and occasional freelance gigs, with a car on the edge and a grad school stipend drawing to a close? Forget it.
Gained: Invited myself along on a dream trip to a Brazil, and got the green light to come. I realize I can't go. And yet... didn't dreaming about airplanes and faraway places get me here, now? So if not this August, with this group, maybe the next one, or the next, or the next...