My Travels

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Ernst Aebi With the Tibetan Soldiers Just went through the list of countries in my atlas and discovered that I have been to 144 of them. Now, if I could, it would be easier for me to list the ones I have not visited yet.

My motto about traveling is:

It is better to see a little of a lot

Than a lot of little.

Ernst Aebi at Kashmir The explanation for this lunacy is:

Even if I like the glimpses of a place I race past, I shall not dwell. Maybe the next one on my track, I hope, will be better yet. At the end of the journey I’ll have peeked at many places, people, cultures and landscapes.

Then I’ll have real choices about

where I want to see a lot of little

This has happened to me many times.

I raced in the Paris-Dakar Rally across the Sahara, buried destitute people in the dust clouds with my hell-bent dash through their land. I felt ashamed about many aspects of this high-speed folly but fell in love with the vastness of the desert. I returned to Timbuktu and traveled from there for over a month in the lonely sands — with nomads on their camels. During that month I discovered a mid-Sahara village with abandoned, dying slaves. There I really learned a lot of little because I stayed for three years (described in Seasons of Sand Sahara).

Another switch from seeing a little of a lot came in my youth when I planned to hitchhike around the world. I did stay in Beirut, Lebanon for about three month but for the rest dashed through the Middle East, on through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Burma, Thailand, China, without a desire to dwell. That all changed with my arrival in Japan. I loved it, came to a full stop — for almost a year — and learned a lot of little, even some Japanese.

Or, yet another example. On quick stop in Eastern Siberia (Khatanga on the Taymyr Peninsula) to outfit for a trek to the North Pole, I fell in love with the isolated inhabitants of the hostile land. I went back and lived with hunters, trappers and reindeer herders for almost two month.

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