Tourist or Traveler

Sheltering Sky

Sheltering Sky

I was retired for only a couple of weeks, when I saw an interesting statement on a lady’s hand bag while riding the CTA in Chicago.  After memorizing as much of the saying as possible, a search of the Internet informed me it was an excerpt from a novel written by Paul Bowles, “The Sheltering Sky.”

“He did not think of himself as a tourist; he was a traveler.  The difference is partly one of time he would explain.  Whereas the tourist generally hurries back home at the end of a few weeks or months, the traveler, belonging no more to one place than to the next, moves slowly, over periods of years from one part of the earth to another.  Indeed, he would have found it difficult to tell, among the many places he had lived, precisely where it was he had felt most at home.”

The statement really meant something to me at the time, having just retired, maybe I would become a traveler…..  However, having been retired for about a year now and gone on numerous trips, by Paul Bowles definition above, I am clearly still in the tourist camp.  After three weeks on the road, many motels and a few camping spots,  near the end of the journey I find myself hurrying back home.  But not being bound by the limits of working world vacation days, having an open-ended vacation is a real pleasure.  It allows one to explore that lone road or take time to stop into a store that advertises “Guns – Ammo – Beer” and chat with the owners.  While I am enjoying a generally a less hurried life with no deadlines I guess I am still a tourist.

My next trip is three weeks in the Eastern Sierras of California.

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