“You Are Here to Risk Your Heart”

Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.—Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum LP

Bucket List

The Inca Ruins at Machu Picchi

The Inca Ruins at Machu Picchu

Every once in a while, I take stock of places I would like to visit, despite the fact that the amount of time I have remaining looks ever more finite. What is particularly difficult for me is that Martine is afraid of going to most of the places on my bucket list, whether for reasons of health (mosquitoes, altitude sickness) or because of socio/political prejudices (Russia, Turkey).

In random order, here are ten places I would give my eye teeth to visit:

  1. The Inca ruins at Machu Picchu in Peru, plus several of the archeological sites near Cuzco.
  2. The Trans-Siberian Railroad from Moscow (if I had the time and money, from London) to Vladivostok.
  3. Visiting Greek ruins in Turkey, Italy, and—oh, yes—Greece.
  4. Pompeii and Herculaneum, for a look at an ancient world buried by a volcanic eruption.
  5. When I went in 2001, I didn’t get a chance to see enough of Iceland, so I want more. And maybe I can add Greenland and the Faeroe Islands as well.
  6. The Shetlands and Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
  7. Argentina’s Iguazu Falls.
  8. A cruise on the Danube to see the lands of my forefathers.
  9. Mauritius and Réunion in the Indian Ocean because, well, I had to pick at least one tropical location.
  10. Chilean Patagonia, because Martine and I traveled through the Argentinean portions and loved them.

That’s a fairly long list, and I wonder how much of it I can get to. The biggest limiting factor, of course, is money. The type of travel I like is not cheap, even though I eschew luxury accommodations and five-star meals.