"What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home."

Trinidad, Cuba

Inspired by The Art of Travel
by Alain de Botton


In March of 2017, A friend and I went to Cuba. It's not the typical destination I'd go for, being a pale mid-westerner avoidant of sandy beaches, but after a short time there I fell in love with the Cuban people's energy and warmth, and as an illustrator, their graphic use of paint color, patterned tiles, and ornate metal work.

I thought back to this as I was reading Alain de Botton's The Art of Travel, when he describes how important these foreign details are:

"Why be seduced by something as small as a front door in another country? Why fall in love with a place because it has trams and its people seldom have curtains in their homes? However absurd the intense reactions provoked by such small (and mute) foreign elements may seem, the pattern is at least familiar from our personal lives. There, too, we may find ourselves anchoring emotions of love on the way a person butters his or her bread, or recoiling at his or her taste in shoes. To condemn ourselves for these minute concerns is to ignore how rich in meaning details may be.

In the more fugitive, trivial association of the word exotic, the charm of a foreign place arises from the simple idea of novelty and change... But there may be a more profound pleasure as well: we may value foreign elements not because they are new, but because they seem to accord more faithfully with out identity and commitments than anything our homeland can provide."