Monday, 23 February 2009

Turning points

Travel changes us, sometimes superficially, sometimes profoundly...It is a classroom without walls.

> From On and Off the Beaten Track
1,000 Places to See Before You Die
A Traveler's Life List by Patricia Schultz

There was nothing worth watching on the box again last night – so I decided to watch the Motorcycle Diaries, a film I missed when it was released a few years back. It turned out to be a good choice.

The film reconstructs the incredible journey by motorcycle across South America taken by a young and impressionable Ernesto Guevara and his best friend Alberto Granado.

Ernesto Guevara, in particular, is profoundly moved by what he sees on their trip.

His travels teach him to look upon impoverished Latin America not as a collection of separate nations but as one cultural and economic entity, the liberation of which would require an intercontinental strategy.

Ernesto Guevara goes on to become one of the most famous revolutionary figures ever of course. Travel really did change him in a profound way.

But if travel can change you, then what about living in a foreign country for a long period of time?

Would I still be the same person if I hadn’t lived abroad for a while? Would my values be the same?

This brings us to the idea of alternate pasts. What would I be doing if I hadn’t moved to this town? Would I still have got married? Etc etc.

These “what if” scenarios have even generated a type of science fiction in which the basic premise is that some specific historical event never happened, or happened differently. Click here if you’re interested. Fascinating stuff.