On Why Sightseeing Is Not Enough

By Mark Smith

I took a tour through the canyonlands of Salta in Argentina. In 98 degrees heat, it left me feeling cold. We were delivered from site to site in an air-conditioned car, emerging to stop and stare before retreating once more and moving on to the next must-see attraction.

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 my 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, sat on a vineyard terrace, in the middle of a desert greened by man’s intervention, a moment of clarity came. I heard the sound of a stream falling over rocks; I 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. I felt connected.

Then it dawned on me why sightseeing has never been enough. What I saw 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.
If you want people to connect with a place, if you want a place to come alive, you must plan to engage all their senses, not just one.