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The traveler

25. 10. 2009.

I met David yesterday at Kolding – a popular and comfortable cafe in central Zagreb.

David is from Seattle. He’s been living outside the US since 2000, 7 years in Tanzania and then Europe. You can find out all about him on his blog. Steve Carlson, a mutual friend, introduced us over email and we had a really nice chat over a few glasses of beer & wine. One of David’s passions is photography, and I really liked the pics he took of Zagreb.

I was fascinated to hear that David has embarked on a one year journey through some decidedly non-touristic countries, starting from the Balkans and heading for Central Asia through Turkey, Middle East, India and then back around again through the Caucasus. Yesterday, when we met, was only his 4th day, so I was kind of honored to be “Present at the Creation“, as Dean Acheson would have said.

Anyway, like I mentioned, for the first leg of this journey David will be wandering and traveling through my home region – the Balkans. As I write this he’s in Slovenia, and then plans to head down the Dalmatian coast, into Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and then through Macedonia and Greece to Turkey and onwards.

When he leaves Macedonia, he’s on his own as far as I’m concerned. But until then, I’d like to ask some friends I know to help him on his way. As far as I can understand, the most valuable help I and my network can provide is getting to know people on the way. Traveling, after all, is often about learning about the places you are visiting, and learning about places means learning about people and getting to know them.

Here’s an example: I mentioned to David that my family is from the small coastal town of Jelsa on the island of Hvar and that in a few days it will be olive harvest season. He was thrilled and explained how in Seattle, his home town, everyone he knows does all of their cooking with olive oil and that they often buy different kinds of olives and enjoy them very much. Now, with a little planning, he might go down to Jelsa to witness and perhaps help out with the olive harvest. I also told him about the phenomenon of Medjugorje, which has become ove the years a pilgrimage site for Catholics around the world. Although I am not religious myself, I went there recently with some friends as part of a road trip to see for myself the small town where more than a million pilgrims come each year to seek spirituality. He probably wouldn’t have learned about Medjugorje from the usual travel guides.

So I’ll be asking some of my friends, particularly from the Twittersphere, to get in touch with David on his journey, to share a cup of coffee or beer or wine or whatever the local brandy is called in their country or town, and to tell him stories about where they live and what he might want to do and who he might need to meet at this stop and the next. If we get going on Twitter, I suggest the hashtag #travelerdavid…

Together, maybe we can make one traveler’s journey more interesting and exciting and have fun ourselves as well!

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