Travel Karma and Paying it Forward: My Weekend in the Big Easy

My apologies for neglecting my blog lately. Between two conferences, a weekend in New Orleans, a rejected UK visa, and preparations for my move to Italy, I’ve been a busy lady. 😉

When I hear the word “karma”, the phrase “what goes around comes around” springs to mind. My lovely friend, *Fiona, taught me this past summer in Scotland all about “travel karma”; no matter how much I thanked her for all of her kindness, she’d never accept my thanks, “pay it forward” is all she’d say.

trav·el kar·ma (ˈtra-vəl ˈkär-mə)

1a : to journey through or over b : to follow (a course or path) as if by traveling.
1 : often capitalized : the force generated by a person’s actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person’s next existence (travel. karma. 2013. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved April 24, 2013)

Without getting too spiritual, I will say that I do believe that what we do in life has a way of coming back around to us. Throughout my travels I’ve met some truly amazing people who have welcomed me into their homes, lives, and cultures. I’ve found myself in many questionable situations whilst abroad (many of which would turn my mother’s hair several shades of grey) but have been the recipient of kindness and hospitality I’ll never be able to pay back. So, in the words of *Fiona, I’ll just “pay it forward.”

The Pleasure of Your Company

April 2013,  New Orleans © 2013 “Not A Scottish Lass”

April 2013, New Orleans © 2013 “Not A Scottish Lass”

This past weekend in New Orleans I did not have the honour of paying it forward, but of paying it back. *Fiona made her first trip to the ‘States and I was able to meet her and show her one of my favourite cities. *Fiona laughed at me, but my statement of the weekend was “pleased as peaches”, and I was: I was pleased as peaches for the opportunity to show *Fiona around New Orleans. She did a lot for me this past summer, often without even realizing it. I joked that she’d ended up running a half way house for broken women this past summer and while she’d laugh it off, I was serious. I was broken in so many ways last summer when I landed in Scotland and the kindness and friendship that *Fiona and *Merida showed me was life saving. It’s amazing what casual conversation and a cuppa can do for ones sanity.

Sharing Cultures

I was able to share the culture of a specific geographic location from my country with *Fiona, and this was special to me. No, it wasn’t my culture, but it was one of the cultures of my country, and I was proud to share it.

During my travels I’ve noticed that people make broad, sweeping generalizations about the ‘States and although I am, admittedly, not terribly patriotic, I find it extraordinarily offensive. My country is the size of Europe, to assume that such a large land mass contains onlyoneculture, one type of person, one language, and one history is ignorant. I’ll be the first to admit that the diversity within one of our states is not as pronounced as in one European country, but regionally, my country has vast differences. It was nice to have the opportunity to show *Fiona how uniquely different one city is from the rest of the cities in the U.S.; doing so also reminded me that I am, in my own way, very proud of the cultures of my country.

Melting Pot

April 2013 New Orleans © 2013 “Not A Scottish Lass”

April 2013 New Orleans © 2013 “Not A Scottish Lass”

While the U.S. is in many ways a “melting pot”, it’s not that simple. Many of the cultures found within the U.S. are a melding of various cultures from around the world, however, we have several “pots”. I was reminded of this whilst showing *Fiona around New Orleans and the surrounding areas.

This was my seventh trip to NOLA, and no less magical. It’s an amazing city with such an amazing spirit and energy. She’s been through so much and still has so much to give. The people, food, music, architecture, and history are simply amazing; I highly recommend you go if you’ve ever the opportunity. There’s so much more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street.

Giving & Getting

*Fiona’s smile was contagious during our time in New Orleans. I felt a lot of pressure going into our weekend, I wanted so badly to show her a great time and I’m so happy I succeeded. I fully wanted to go to New Orleans, I always have a good time, but my primary concern was *Fiona. In retrospect, I think I got more out of the trip than her. Not only did I have a great time in one of my favourite cities with one of my favourite people, but I also had the opportunity to show a piece of my country’s culture to an outsider and it was both an honour and pleasure. It reminded me (and I do often need a reminder) how much I love my country and it’s various cultures.

Your turn, I’d like to hear your stories of “travel karma”.

 

 

 

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