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April 15, 2011
Accepting all rivers—at home and abroad
On our most recent journey to Mexico, Alan and I participated in a Mayan cleansing ceremony. We’ve visited sweat lodges in the past, but this particular ancient ritual focused on honoring nature and the Mayan gods.
After crawling into a cramped cave to join the rest of our group, a local woman led us in a prayer that sounded like a mixture between Spanish and Mayan. I recall closing my eyes and focusing on the powerful sound of her chants as hot rocks (symbolizing their Mayan ancestors) were carried into the cave and placed into a huge pit before us. As the steam rose from this deep abyss, I felt a sudden sense of calm … almost as if was I was being embraced by the power of nature around me.
I don’t remember every word of our leader’s prayer, but I’ll never forget one line she uttered that has remained with me to this day: “The ocean accepts all rivers.” The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced this message encapsulates the power of travel. As we explore, we will come across cultures and religions that differ dramatically from our own. Our challenge is in our accepting of these differences. After all, the ocean doesn’t care if a river is muddy or clean, brown or blue. It accepts whatever type of river it comes across. In the same way, we are challenged to embrace this diversity each and every day.
I recently shared this quote with a group of travelers visiting Boston in March for one of Grand Circle’s Get Together events. It was so gratifying to share our passion for travel—like past and upcoming trips—and it was enlightening to discuss what’s been going on around the world. One of our most-traveled couples (in a group of very well-traveled people) even shared some of their secrets to making their marriage of 57 years last so long! You can read more about Marion and Peter Gianino’s secrets—as well as some of their favorite travel memories from Italy with Grand Circle—in our Traveler Stories.
Listening to—and speaking with—our travelers always reminds me of the powerful effect travel has on our lives. By opening our hearts—and accepting all rivers—we’re not only changing others’ lives … we’re changing our own.
We’ll be spotlighting South Africa in upcoming editions of Harriet’s Corner. If you’ve traveled with Grand Circle on this trip, I’d love to hear about your experiences—and see your photos. Share them with me at email@example.com.