As Maydi Díaz walks…

‘Everywhere I went, the world was on my side’

I need some travel quotes, because what I saw in Maydi during our swing through Europe last week cannot be adequately captured with my words alone. I need the assistance of others.

The first purpose of the trip — she coming from Chicago, me from Puerto Rico — was her graduation Wednesday the 23rd in Galway, Ireland, where she spent the last year doing her M.A. in Theatre Production at NUI. My understanding was that she would embark on a job hunt upon her return home, in Chicago’s vibrant theatre scene, to start the career journey that would eventually lead to her dream job as a director.

But of course, right? It’s the plan she had shared.

Ahmm, wait. Not so fast. She’s taking a detour, of sorts.

She told me she’s postponing the search to first spend the next several years simply…

“Traveling.”
Traveling? Oh. OK. That’s cool. Yes, I know, she loves to travel. But what about…

“I have a couple of jobs that give me the income and flexibility I need to take off every couple of months and visit different places, and that’s what I’ve decided to do.”

Interesting.

Sure, I said inside, the dad in me kinda wrestling in that immediate reaction with the adventure spirit that I, too, share very deeply.

I get it. Totally. Yes. You go, girl.

The wrestling for me ended when we walked the medieval streets of Koprivshtista, the central Bulgarian town that would be our first stop. Well, technically, we went first to Sofia, but the following morning we took the train to this truly magical outpost.

She had read of an early morning route, and sure enough, we rose at dawn, got ready and walked — a while — to the station. When the first attendant told her there was no such early morning route, that the first one would leave past noon, she ran, literally, to the bus station next door to check on that possibility, and ran back, literally, with greater desperation, when told there was no bus either, but that perhaps that one other service over there might be making the trip.

“It’s just that I really want to go to this place, dad,” she said as she sprinted past me.

As it turned out, we did have to wait until the afternoon, and when we finally arrived, The Moment happened.

Maydi walked the streets. Looked around. And around. Went in and out of the little town’s little shops. Spoke with people. Took pictures. And walked some more. Walked a lot.

I witnessed the most profound look of…satisfaction. She found what she so badly wanted to discover. The experience. The feeling. The new awareness. That authentic something.

“These are the places where you can really capture the heart of a place,” she told me later.
“The essence,” I said, quizzingly.
“Yes. That’s the word. The essence.”

She walked Koprivshtista. She walked Plovdiv. She walked Sofia. In Ireland, She walked Galway. She walked Clifden, including the secluded Clifden Castle. In Northern Ireland, we drove hours to the remote coastal towns of Dunseverick and Bushmills to see and walk around two attractions she and two friends, Clarke and Blathnaid, wanted badly to codiscover: the stunning Dunluce Castle and the unbelievable Giant’s Causeway, which I think ought to be the 8th Natural Wonder of the World.

Maydi looks for magical places, imposing castles and astonishing landscapes, as if jumping like Mary Poppins into the books and movies she adored as a little girl. Her imagination has always soared. Fantasies and stories have been the worlds she has traveled, forever — the worlds she now imagines…in theatre.

It is, to me at least, a compelling connection, for her to take these real-life adventures and discoveries, of cultures and peoples and places and more, and turn them later into the most inspiring stories on a stage, so her audiences can capture…the essence.

We wrapped up the trip by walking Belfast, and walking Dublin, two final discoveries before the journey home, and in her case, the logistics and planning for the next exploration.

“I wandered everywhere, through cities and countries wide. And everywhere I went, the world was on my side.” Roman Payne.
“I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.” Herman Melville.
“Nothing is so dangerous to the progress of the human mind than to assume that there are no mysteries in nature, that our triumphs are complete and that there are no new worlds to conquer.” Humphry Davy.
“Good days are to be gathered like grapes, to be trodden and bottled into wine and kept for age to sip at ease beside the fire. If the traveler has vintaged well, he need trouble to wander no longer; the ruby moments glow in his glass at will.” Freya Stark.
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” Bill Bryson.
“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” Shirley MacLaine.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Henry Miller.
“I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward.” David Livingstone
“Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.” Edmund Hillary.
“Be always sure you’re right, then go ahead.” Davy Crockett.
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” Mary Anne Radmacher.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” Saint Augustine.
“Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Ibn Battuta.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” Susan Sontag.
“Oh the places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss.

Unwinding at Java’s Bistro in Galway, where Maydi wrote the bulk of her Master’s thesis.