SightSEEing

I think I have always known this about myself. However, planning this trip and doing the ‘blind travel’ research has really brought it into clear perspective. Specifically, I am a vision snob.

How did I figure it out? To begin with, 10 days in Iceland is expensive! Afford it? Yes, but it would have been easier with more time to save.  Why this year? The original plan was a Canadian maritime cruise that was half of the expense.

The reason we decided to do the Iceland trip this year is because I want to SEE Iceland. Next year I may not be able to.

I admit I have been a bit perplexed by all of the blogs and other asundry offerings on blind travel. What is the purpose of going sight-seeing when you cannot see the sights? Like I said: vision snob.

Since there are accursed many of these ‘blind travel’ offerings there has to be something about traveling without vision. I mean, some of these people are not just a little fuzzy; they are big B blind! What do they get out of it?

I found a post by a woman with very low vision. She was talking about traveling in California. The post was entitled Traveling Blind: A Sensory Experience and that title pretty much says it all. The author, as well as some other blog writers on the subject, talked not about seeing the sights but about soaking up the experience. She spoke of slowing down and being truly mindful (there is that word again!) of everything around you. She spoke of the quality of the air and the differing songs of the birds. She talked about the proprioception experience of riding a San Francisco trolley car. In short, she spoke of the whole person experience of being in a new environment.

The author also talked about being overwhelmed and frustrated on other trips. It sort of sounded like these were ‘sightseeing’ trips. You know, the bus drives past and gives you a ‘photo opportunity’ of something beautiful or historic or awe-inspiring.

If this is Tuesday, this must be Belgium. Too fast paced and definitely utilizing the wrong sense for someone visually impaired.

So, apparently the message is you can enjoy new experiences through your other, five senses (including proprioception) but you have to slow down and experience it first. Sort of a new concept for a vision snob but unless the clinical trials do great things, it might be the way of my future.

I gave it some thought this afternoon. My friend and her husband had me kayaking. Maybe the last time for the summer. After fighting my way up river for about an hour, I turned around and floated back down. The sun was warm, but not too warm. The breeze played over my skin. My hands trailed in the water and I could feel the water passing through my fingers. I heard ducks and geese and a kingfisher calling. Not too bad.

Now I admit I am far from ready to give up my vision – my monocular allowed me to see that white speck on the shore was an egret. Score! – but experiencing my time on the river through my other senses did have some positives.

Maybe these ‘blind travel’ people have something after all.

The author ended her piece with a quote that I am going to steal:

“Certainly travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
Mary Ritter Beard

Next: Travelogue: Iceland!

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