When you start on your journey to Ithaca…
Welcome to Travels with Hercules! I’m Caroline and this, you may have guessed, is my precious pup, Hercules. Yes, we intentionally gave him an ironic name. But don’t let that fool you. He has earned his heroic moniker. Though tiny, he’s a brave traveler in a very large world.
I’m an opera singer turned voice teacher and musical director. My love for the arts has taken me all over the world. I’ve visited more than 50 countries and 48 states. But I’m not finished, because each new place has its own story to tell.
My husband, Alex, and I are on a mission of discovery. The Navy, in its great wisdom, is moving us to Yokosuka, Japan – just outside Tokyo – as of December. This will be our second Asian expedition together, though last time it wasn’t permanent! We plan to live and travel the continent over the next three years and soak up all Asia has to offer.
This blog is my travel diary and a record of my life abroad – the good, the awkward, and the painful! It will also serve as an advice column for other like-minded voyagers. I will tackle the smaller issues such as what to wear and how to stay in shape while on vacae, along with the more challenging aspects of travel, such as how to get your dog into Japan while avoiding the 6-month quarantine.
Alex and I are inspired to experience our new surroundings. We shall not “hurry the voyage,” but rather, “pray that the road is long” as we go in search of our “Ithaca.” With that, I present to you this poem for inspiration.
By Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)
When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.
Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.
Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.