My recent whirlwind tour of the US with my job at Geeks Without Bounds gave me pause recently when I thought about all I have learned in the past six weeks. I marvel at the fact that I had never even heard of hacker and maker spaces less than six weeks ago and now I have visited 13 of these alternative communities in 11differenct US cities.
Hacker and maker spaces are pockets of intense community and they share a common interest, normally in the realm of technology and computers. And though they’re united under the common label of a name, each one was so different. DC’s space reflected more of they yuppy (so in a good way) demographic of US policy makers and activists while the southern hospitality in Louisville was a direct representation of the totally unique culture permeating the south.
Before I took this job I had previously visited many of the cities on our tour, and yet I had never seen this side to the cities. They were in neighborhoods I would never normally visit, hosting events you’d never find on a city’s official “calendar of events,” and making projects and sharing ideas I rarely find my self exposed to in the course of my every day life.
So now I look back on my RTW trip and on the last two years of my travel and wonder how much I missed because of the lens/purpose through which I viewed my travels.
Similarly though, I’ve also gained experiences other travelers may miss because of the lens through which I personally view the world, my specific passions and interests. As a performer I was drawn to the summer street theatre in Slovenia and actually stayed an extra two weeks in the capital just to see shows and feel the fever pitch of excitement in Ljublijana as performers dotted the sidewalk with their street shows.
A Wandering Sole travels the world running marathons – the community and experiences she discovered over the past several months are totally unique to her travels.
Last week in LA, the hula-hooping community sprung up in the city and descended on the La Brea Tar Pits for a day of hooping and fire-sticks—yet another example of a subculture and experience you’d miss unless you happened to find yourself at the Tar Pits last weekend or already have a keen interest in hula-hooping.
Visiting these spaces demonstrated one way that purpose plays a key role in shaping individual travel experiences. And our lives for that matter. The communities and culture of the hacker and maker spaces was once completely foreign to me, but by putting a different lens and purpose on my travels my experience in these cities was completely altered.
Knowing this, or at least considering travel in this light, I’m eager to see what experiences I can uncover if I look for things outside of the guidebook, outside of my pat personal interests, and perhaps dig a little deeper.