In the world of travel, there is a relatively small group of competitive travelers seeking to set records. Who can beat out the youngest person to have visited every country in the world? Who will be the first African American solo female traveler to do so? The joy seems to lie in collecting the passport stamp and checking another country off their list.
What does their influence mean for the rest of us? Does it even matter how many countries you visit?
It is four in the morning or, according to poet Wislawa Szymborska, “the hour when wind blows from extinguished stars.” As I lay awake, enveloped by the complete darkness of night, my left foot glides along the mattress searching for Jim. Proximity to my human furnace is the best chance I have of staying warm. The mid-1800s adobe structure over our heads, with its three-foot wide walls, provides outstanding natural insulation, but its windows and doors are no match for the biting wind (or extinguished stars) on this January night in the mountains of northern New Mexico, when the mercury has dipped well below freezing.
We are in the “Cuarto Epifania” at the home of a Vi Garcia on Rancho San Pablo de Garcia. Over a century and a half ago, Vi’s great-great-grandparents settled in the “Casa Vieja” [Old House] in which we now sleep, five miles south of Cuba, NM (population 748).
Despite a hard-working space heater, a faux fireplace, and an extra blanket, I am cold. Anywhere else, this might bother me. Here though, it impossible to be anything but charmed by my rustic surroundings.