I went sightseeing the other day, through the canyonlands of Salta. In 37 degrees heat, it left me feeling cold. Delivered from sight to sight in an air-conditioned car, emerging to stop and stare before retreating once more and moving on to the next.
As I stood before one “fantastic” rock formation after another, I felt an urge to reach out and touch, to feel the warmth of sun-baked rock on skin, feel its rugosities beneath my palm. But I could not, contact was not allowed and we had a schedule to keep.
The following day, in the middle of a desert, greened by the intervention of man, a moment of clarity came. Sat on a vineyard terrace, I heard the sound of stream falling over rock; breathed air laden with the scent of lavender; watched shadows chase across red hills; felt the wind´s warmth on my cheek and from a glass, tasted the heavy mix of tannin and acid across my tongue. And I felt connected.
Then it dawned on me why sightseeing has never been enough. What I took in with my eyes the day before, can only be described as beautiful, but we are so much more than visual beings, we are sensual beings.
Touch, taste, smell, hear, see. Five basic senses, five powerful senses. If you really want people to connect with a place, if you really want the place to come alive, then surely you must plan to engage all your senses, not just one. Perhaps that is one of the reasons we choose adventure over the air-conditioned bus.