Traveling Voices

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My adventurous voice says, “You’ve always wanted to go to Colombia, and now’s your chance! Exotic locales, ocean breezes, colonial architecture: It’s a trip you’ll remember your whole life. Book it, book it now!”

The voice in my arm says, “Ouch, ouch! Shots for hepatitis, typhoid, and yellow fever!”

The voice in my stomach says, “Exotic vacation? Like that trip to Mexico where you spent 24 hours straight sitting on the toilet? That sure was a vacation to remember.”

The voice in my wallet says, “Colombia is a much better deal than New York or the other choices. But still not cheap. Staying at home would be cheap. What’s the matter with just spending a week watching travel videos in the basement?”

The voice in my head, which never agrees with any of the other voices, or even itself, says, “You’re not getting any younger, you know. How many more trips do you think you’ll be able to take before you can’t even lift a carry-on into the overhead bin?”

The adventurous voice says, “Cartagena is a good starting point, but it’s really just another Caribbean resort town. Why don’t you go into the mountains or the jungle? How about Medellin? There have been hardly any kidnappings or killings there lately. At least none that made front-page news in Cleveland.”

The voice in my back says, “How many hours am I supposed to sit on an airplane for this? And what kind of mattress will be waiting at the other end?”

The voice in my stomach says, “Wait a sec, what about your vegan, gluten-free diet? What are you expecting to eat in Colombia? You’ll be going to exotic restaurants and ordering plain rice and boiled beans. Yum-yum.”

The voice in my head says, “Why don’t you go someplace where hippies live? They know about all about vegan/gluten-free stuff. Maybe you should go somewhere for an inner journey. How about a silent retreat in California?”

The voice in my wallet says, “You could do a silent retreat here at home. Just turn off your cell phone, lock the front door, and go sit in the basement for a week.”

The voice that never gets its way says, “You’ve been promising we’d get to go somewhere for months. You’re probably going to back out at the last minute again, aren’t you? What excuse will it be this time? A bad back, an emergency at work, a blizzard that shuts down all flights on the East Coast? You’re always full of excuses when the time comes.”

My wife says, “You’d better make up your mind soon where you want to go, or all the tickets will be sold out or the prices will skyrocket.”

The voice in my wallet says, “Yes, but if you wait long enough, you simply won’t be able to afford to go so far. How about a driving trip to Toledo to visit your cousin?”

The artist voice says, “What about the museum trip you’ve been promising me? I thought we were going to go to see all the greatest art and theatre in New York. Now you want to dump us on a beach to get sunburned and worry about thieves stealing our bags when we go for a swim. That’s your idea of a good time?”

The adventurous voice says, “Why not a hiking trip? This would be a good time to go to Machu Picchu. Or kayak down the Amazon. Wait, let’s ask John about joining the group trip he’s planning – biking across Costa Rica to catalog endangered snails.”

My father’s voice says, “Are you out of your mind? Why don’t you just go somewhere for a week where you can relax and go golfing?”

My mother’s voice says, “Do you want to have a vacation or do you want to become a travel agent? Go for a cruise. You get great weather and they take care of all the arrangements for you.”

The voice in my feet says, “It seems like no matter where you go, you’re going to be asking a lot from us. When was the last time you bought a new pair of shoes? You’d better get that taken care of right away or you’ll wind up spending most of your vacation doing first aid for blisters.”

The voice in my mouth says, “Don’t forget about the little sore spot in the back molar that you’ve been ignoring for months. You’d better get that taken care of or you’ll spend your vacation trying to translate how to say, ‘No, it’s not that tooth; it’s the one next to it!’ in some emergency dental clinic in Bogota.”

Finally, the unifying voice speaks: “Is this a democracy or a dictatorship?” And all the voices grudgingly agree: “Dictatorship.”

So the unifying voice says, “I’ve listened to all your advice and worries and suggestions and I’ve made a decision. I’m going to check some guidebooks out of the library and think about this some more.”

The voice in my wallet says, “So far, I like how you think.”

My adventurous voice says, “Get the one about exploring the African savanna. Or the South Pole.”

The voice in my head says, “You’re never going to go anywhere, unless you do, in which case I’m sure it’ll be the wrong place.”

Then my wife says, “I couldn’t wait any longer for you to decide. I’ve bought the tickets and booked the hotel. We’re going to … ”

The voice in my stomach growls, “All this talking is making me hungry. How about we go out for Mexican?”

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