I don’t mean to brag, but I have been fortunate enough to see some amazing things. I’ve swam with sharks and stingrays and manatees, in the unbelievably clear waters of the Carribean. I’ve seen great cathedrals like the Notre Dame and the Sagrada Familia. I’ve seen smaller, yet no less intricate pieces of architecture, like the Roslin Chapel and Gaudi’s Parc Guell. Just this past winter I got to visit the British National Library and see some Tolkien’s original copy of The Hobbit, Da Vinci’s notebooks, the Magna Carta, and the only surviving original copy of Beowulf (1000 years old! That’s three zeroes!)
Each experience was unique, but I think my favorites were the things that were not only bigger than me, but more naturally-occurring. One of these is the Grand Canyon in Arizona, which has the most surreal landscape I have ever seen. The distance between where you are standing and the other side is indescribable. It’s no wonder that so many people step off the edge and fall to their deaths.
My other favorite was the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland. I went with two of my best friends during Semana Santa (a.k.a. the week of Easter). The experience was ridiculously windy and rainy (well, I mean, it’s Ireland), and totally worth it.
There’s something about seeing something that is so incredible and beautiful and so huge. It makes you feel so insignificantly small and yet so lucky just to have seen it, to have been there to bear witness. So here’s a short, not-all-inclusive list of some of the things I still want to see:
• This is the Door to Hell, in Turkmenistan. It’s a natural gas field in Durweze that Soviet scientists found and started harvesting in 1971. When the amount of gas posed a danger, they thought they could just burn it out. And yes, it’s still burning today.
• This is the Way to Paradise, in São Miguel, Azores, Portugal. I don’t really know much about it, but this picture has gone viral simply because it’s so beautiful. Also, yes, it sounds like a 70s rock song.
• This is a view of the night sky from the Atacama Desert in Chile. This desert is one of the places in the world with the lowest amount of light pollution, which makes the view incredible. I’m sure having a nice camera helps, but if I could see a view that was anything close to this picture, it would be worth the entire trip.
These are the things I am always trying to remember to seek out. It’s the reason I want to travel and learn languages; to get to see as much of our planet as possible. Because now that I’ve started I can’t imagine stopping.