On all my tours I talk about seeking authentic cultural connections. There is so much insulation between we travelers and genuine connection experiences - including the nature of commercial tourism, a tour guide, or tour director. The real cultural experiences, the ones that create joy, expand our horizons, and cause us to think in a new way are a bit hard to come by. One has to be alert for them and get off the beaten track a bit. That is exactly what we mean at Imprint when we set out to "Travel with Intent". On a recent Rick Steves tour, several tour members came back from a hike in the Cinque Terre with a great connection story. Rather than retell it, I'll just include it here in David's own words. Thanks David! From David Champagne’s journal:
Day 2 in Cinque Terre started with a a hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. An early start allowed us to avoid the morning rush of hikers and experience some of the most beautiful ocean views Italy has to offer undisturbed. After breakfast in Vernazza the decision to take the train to Corniglia was made in order to save time and energy.
When we arrived and looked up at the 250 steps we would have to climb, we nearly turned back. About half way up, regret set in as my leg muscles burned with exhaustion. As I looked around at those pushing forward it encouraged me to continue. I noticed a mother and her daughter ahead who both had reached a point where neither had the energy to continue. The mother tried her best to convince her daughter to push forward but to no avail. Not familiar with the language, I tried my best to explain that I would carry her daughter on my shoulders. Flustered and in a a hurry, the mother was very accepting of my offer but her daughter did not like the idea of riding on the shoulders of a stranger.
As the mother pleaded with her daughter to take my offer I thought of my childhood and how I’d do just about anything for money. I reached into my pocket for some change. The young girl noticed my handful of money. I told her there was too much for me to carry and wondered if she would hold a piece of it for me. With one last push of encouragement from her mother, up she went onto my shoulders for the last third of the climb. When we reached the top, her mother expressed her appreciation and pointed us into town. By far the best 20 cents I ever spent.