In August of 2013 I left my grown children, their spouses and children, my friends, my dog, and my home in Denver, Colorado, in the United States. But not for another country. My destination was a kingdom. According to the stories in the fairy books, a kingdom is a place where you find knights and damsels and dragons and castles with towers and banners. In Sunday School you have the Kingdom of Heaven, with its golden gates and streets in the clouds. In Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood you find the Kingdom of Make-Believe, with animals and people that talk to each other. In elementary school you’re introduced to the United Kingdom, which is a green island across the ocean with a palace and a queen with a crown and that shares its roots with Renaissance fairs and Camelot.
Surely there could be no such thing as a kingdom in the modern world, where we know about things like inalienable rights and universal suffrage and Facebook. But there is. A kingdom that also is building a financial district on the scale of Wall Street, from the ground up. A kingdom with rush hour traffic and mega-malls and Kentucky Fried Chicken. And Facebook. But still a kingdom, with an absolute monarch and with rules and traditions that baffle outsiders. Saudi Arabia.
Fish, a friend pointed out to me, discover water last. For me, the wonder of travel is discovering things that are different from what you know. Some better, some worse, some just different, but all illuminating to someone who sees them as an outsider. Air instead of water. I now live as a fish among the birds. It is an endlessly fascinating adventure.
~Margo Catts, August 2013