I’ll be the first to admit that I’m incurably nosey….always curious about what’s going on here, there, and anywhere…a bit of a Peeping Thomasina, really.

That’s why my job is so perfect, offering endless opportunities for me to pop into a new bit of the world to see what’s up. More than just a quick look, real travel offers the chance to slide into a new culture for an up-close-and-personal look at a life we’re not living but love discovering. The memories created at those moments are so vivid they never fade. They tie themselves tightly to our senses, ready to spring to life at any moment.

I can close my eyes and feel the roughly woven goat’s wool blankets I knelt on in a Bedoin family’s tent in the Wadi Rum desert, drinking tea and sheltering from the hot sun. They proudly passed me their baby grandson to admire and explained how their camps moved every few days, in search of food and water for their goats. This was their life and for a precious hour or two, I was living it with them.

Sometimes the sound of the ocean at night will take me back to a midnight beach in Barbados when my family and I joined a team of turtle-rescuing biologists, trekking silently across the damp, dark sand. By the light of our infrared headlamps, we came across a mother Hawksbill turtle, patiently digging her nest. We crouched and watched as she dug, then rejected one, then two, then three holes, finally laying her clutch of eggs in a fourth, perfect nest. Her mission complete, the tired mother lumbered back to the sea, leaving the biologists to figure out how best to protect her legacy. And us? We were left with a sense of wonderment at having stepped into the heart of the natural world.

My senses are my memory board. A bite of ripe banana and I’m in a steamy Costa Rican rainforest, gazing at sloths hanging languidly between the branches. A sip of mint tea and I can hear the rug merchants calling me over to their stands in the crowded and exciting souks of Marekesh. A cold breeze on my cheek and I’m clutching my ski poles at the top of Whistler, staring down at a mile of powder below.

We hope the tastes and sounds and scents our writers describe in the articles in this issue will awaken your senses too. Perhaps you’ll want to sail away to the Maldives or head off to ponder the pandas in Chengdu. Maybe a taste of Janice Mucalov’s spicy piece on San Miguel de Allendes will fire up your enthusiasm for a trip to Mexico. Whether you find yourself reliving great memories or are inspired to head off and make new ones, please join us as we savor the sensory experience of travel.

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