Serendipitous discovery

Over-organizing travel plans—where you’re in a different place each day due to a long checklist of things to see—can actually result in seeing less. Sure, you may get to all the monuments or museums you want, but while the checklist blinders are on, you could be missing out on a lot of local culture.

Recently, I was in the town of Todos Santos, in Mexico’s Baja California Sur. In between the must-sees, I took the time to wander around and get a feel for the area—set in an oasis on the Pacific Ocean. I assumed I’d run into a bunch of artisan shops, some street color and a pretty plaza.

At one point, I turned a corner and found a group of young girls in folklórico skirts on a stage in the plaza, rehearsing for an upcoming performance. Some of them were paying attention to the instructor, some looked like they didn’t want to be there, and the rest were distracted by my paparazzi actions and posed for the camera. They went through their moves, often reprimanded by their instructor—but time stood still. It was a moment of serendipitous discovery.

Had I been focused on seeing certain things on a timetable, I might have missed this moment. But even if you don’t run across something quite so dramatic on your travels, keeping your mind clear of expectations and a strict schedule can often open your eyes to things you’d otherwise miss.

I was a guest of the Mexico Tourism Bureau during my time in Baja California Sur.

Posted by | Comments (5)  | February 24, 2011
Category: Languages and Culture, Lifestyle Design, North America

5 Responses to “Serendipitous discovery”

  1. Tweets that mention » Serendipitous discovery :: Vagablogging :: Rolf Potts Vagabonding Blog -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by vagablogging and Bob Martin, Andrew Stoffman. Andrew Stoffman said: Serendipitous discovery: Over-organizing travel plans—where you’re in a different place each day due to a long c… […]

  2. Chris Says:

    On a short trip to Malaysia I decided to go commando with travel information, so no travel guide and no information from the net. I decided that the only travel information I could get would be through people.

    It was a very different experience to using ‘travel information’. It was very sociable and I felt a deeper connection to places than before. I think this is because it felt more like I was discovering the place rather than following an ‘agenda’.

    Yes, I can definitely relate to being more open to different experiences. There wasn’t a schedule, so I wasn’t in a rush to get to the next sight, instead I was more in the moment and open to opportunities to talk to people.

    The only thing that I had to do was talk with people about where they live. That was fun and easy (in Malaysia anyway).

  3. Brian Says:

    What a strange world, I just returned from Baja yesterday and saw the same teacher and girls in practicing at the cultural center in Todos Santos a few days before. Sat and watched for about a half hour while their teacher kept correcting where they were about as successfully as herding cats. A great place to travel to and while EVERYONE at home thought I was crazy to go to Mexico with all the press about the crime and violence I found it as safe as being at home in the suburbs of central Florida.

  4. BethAnne Says:

    I was aimlessly wandering around London one day when I saw a big group of people. I went over and asked what was going on, and someone told me it was the Queen’s birthday parade. Sure enough, a little bit later, along came the Queen in a horse-drawn carriage, giving the little royal wave.

    Not something I would’ve seen if I had had a guidebook-determined agenda that day.