Friendship linked our dinner with Irakli and Anna, our drive to the Caucasus Mountains, and our final discussions in Tbilisi on conflict resolution. Friends inspire us to escape the monasticism of our thinking by asking us to embrace people who live outside our home.
For travelers it is difficult to untangle from the contradictions of tourism, colonialism, and inequality.
Having devoted the last couple of years to the study of empathy and the need to stand in someone else’s shoes, I tried to imagine how our host felt as we appeared unannounced in her courtyard.
We too find ourselves in a modernidad tardía. That is what my audience reported to me at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota where I had come to present a series of seminars on Greek culture through the support of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.
There must be something right with a country, when your guide talks to you on your hike outside Bogota about his love for Llosa, Cortázar, Hemingway, Kazantzakis, and Tolstoy. And then at the end of the hike he asks for a list of novels and poets he should read!
Am I living in the wrong country or what?
“Machu Picchu,” my friend said, “I hitchhiked there from California in 1971. When we made our way to the site, it was deserted so we camped the night among the ruins.” Her description is vastly different from my own experience this month when I hiked there with my two sons, a nephew and a friend.