20160704_173607I read an article the other day called 10 Things Traveling Teaches You That School Doesn’t and it made me think about my first trip to Europe in 2000. It was for a fine art class through Mount St. Mary’s College. I went “by myself” or rather with a group of perfect strangers. We went to Prague, Salzberg, Vienna and Munich for 12 days. We had the option of having a roommate (that I didn’t know) or paying an extra $400 for a single room. Needless to say I paid the extra money. I think it was a 1 or 2 unit class and our only homework assignment was to put together a scrapbook and share it in class when we returned from the trip. That was back when we took pictures with film and actually printed them out and glued them into photo albums.

One of my favorite memories from the trip happened in Prague. The city is divided up into these districts. 4 of us were on the street car going back to our hotel from being out and about. Which I think was in like district 2 or 3. Somehow we ended up in district 8. Waaaay outside of the tourist area. We got off the train near this stadium at a McDonald’s. I mean. It’s McDonald’s someone should be able to help. We walked in and I swear they had never seen real live Black people before. It was like the whole restaurant came to a complete and screeching halt. No one in the place spoke a bit of English or had any idea what we were trying to say. So we went back outside and looked at the map and just tried to figure it out for ourselves. People on the street walked by and stared at us. Awed by the sight. Black people in Prague! The funniest part of the whole ordeal was there was a huge Michael Jordan Nike billboard above the stadium. Those same people probably passed that billboard every day and never gave it a second thought but 2 Black people standing under it, now that was a sight to see!

I don’t even remember the names of all of the women in this picture. They may not even remember me. But they are tied to one my most memorable life lessons. One that I only had because I was in a foreign country interacting with people a little over 10 years after the end of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall had fallen. The borders had opened up and my Black ass was walking the streets of Prague. Maybe a little kid went home that day and said “hey dad, I saw a Black lady today!” And that Black lady was me! When you travel you open yourself up to other cultures and in turn you open them up to you. You take a little piece of them home with you. You leave a little piece of you where ever you go.

As I was preparing to write this post I looked back through my scrapbook. I wanted to include some of the pictures. But ummm. They are in a SCRAPBOOK! So I did what we modern people do and I took pictures of the pages with my phone.

And that made me realize how much the digital age sucks! I never keep things like this any more – room keys and receipts and ticket stubs. How do you keep those things in your Google Photos? And even though I printed up a photo book when I got back from Cape Town it still isn’t the same. It is just so… perfect and digital.