When I was making my first trek to Asia, a trip that would forever change the nature of my relationship with the rest of the world, I realized that travel had changed dramatically. Technological advances has bubbled up, and tourism had come of age. Nearly everything one is necessary to know is at our fingertips, and internet service has vastly improved. Travel was less expensive, and information was immediate. Jetting off to Buenos Aires, Cape Town, and Tokyo to learn would only cost you twice as much, or to network ten countries on three continents. If you wanted to learn, to move, or to laugh, there was never a need to travel individually or in group. The internet revolution had made us all compatible.
I was on a bus in Thailand listening to a Spanish recorded mini-concert, interspersed with impromptu performances by a pianist and a violinist. At first listen, I thought the music was one of my favorite types-Common-folk ballads sung by a male and a female vocalist, fairly straightforward stuff that would do well in a British folk band. Lyrically speaking, the lyrics were clear and memorable, and the simple melody had a sweeping affect as it played in succession. Listening to these songs also gave me an impression of what was missing from my musical education at the time. The singing style is a very Tunbridgeave-ese, which is only Listen to Home by itself a little tedious. With the constant prompting of the musicians nearby, “Do another!” the girls sung Amazing Grace a bit more seductively.
As the journey continued, the very pleasant restaurant and lounge Akbar, a friend’s place, became less so. It had become populated by villagers, and there was no such comfortable feeling as sat on the floor with your friend, a proper table rather than a counter with concrete near me, and no more ambience than a pinky-coated doner pointing at the door as if to say, “I’m not going to wait forever for you to get out of here! Patience is a virtue!” There was a definite mood of ‘going with the flow’ as some of the lines, when they were not quite so straight, sounded like silliness.
Eventually, after about an hour into the trip, one of the girls said, “We have come to the thousand-yard gate. It is closing. We will not have time to say our farewells. Please go quickly into the gate, before the others.” Only the quick-to- Jeanne tee-shirt in hermanship could read that it was close to the hundred-yard line, but her assistant could tell it was far.
The graciousilion stayed open past sunset, as it was near sunset, allowing the travelers to view the falls with their own eyes. The three visitors from Detroit and from St. Louis went up into the stadium and said, “The great river barges have broken loose, rushing through the locks. Some are still trying to get through. It will take hours to get completely through. Please stand back. The closer you get to the top, the bluer the water appears.”
Then, suddenly, the three visitors looked back, as if they’d been transported by a high wave into the unknown. The sandy beach seemed nothing more than a thread floating in the gray, unruly water that looked like it might swallow us whole.
“Those waters are so unforgiving,” groaned Johnson as he ran a hand through the waters. “You can’t swim out to them!”
“We had better do it now,” groaned mode II.
Wilder had recaptured his golden form. The tallest man in the world with jet-powered legs, mode II landed on the water and immediately was surrounded by the curious hordes. He was surrounded not by fellow travelers, but by a crowd of school children.
“Do you know each other?” he asked, raising his hand widely to encompass the circle of friends.
“Sure,” many of the pupils replied.
“Then help each other to the bomb,” he insisted.
Before they could climb to the top, mode II took them by bus to the top of the wall. As the bus stopped at the edge of the precipice, a column of water rose up from the near shore. The bus went into the gap between the water column and the edge of the sharp, pyramid rock. Several minutes later, the water stopped rising and the three friends made their way on foot into the ruins of the once proud city.
“This was when you learned to fly, Tom,” remarked mode II.
“From then on, you were an expert skydiver,” Allen added.
Today’s visitor experience is of course much more sophisticated and caters to the tastes of many.