What could be better than a travel book based on the search for happiness? When I came across this book I thought surely it must have been written just for me. Eric Weiner must have been tapping into my psyche to come up with this travel book with a twist of self-help and sarcastic humor. Throughout the 345 pages of this book he takes us all around the world to discover what makes some countries happier than others.
While I enjoyed the whole book, from the grumps of Moldova to the insanely wealthy of Qatar, I was most drawn to the idea that some of us connect so deeply to a place other than our home. So now he’s not only writing my dream read, but he’s also speaking to my soul.
Weiner pointed to a few cases, such as Jared an American in love with his new Icelandic home and Linda a woman who really should have been born in Bhutan.
“She and Jared are refugees. Not political refugees, escaping a repressive regime, nor economic refugees, crossing a border in search of a better-paying job. They are hedonic refugees, moving to a new land, a new culture, because they are happier there. Usually, hedonic refugees have an epiphany, a moment of great clarity when they realize beyond a doubt, that they were born in the wrong country.” –Eric Weiner, The Geography of Bliss
I had this thought the very first time I had a Tropical de piña. I also had this thought as I planned my second study abroad trip to Costa Rica over a decade ago. I have it again every time I give advice on visiting the country. Just yesterday while helping my mom book her hotel stay there for her birthday I couldn’t help but grow envious at the fact that she gets to introduce my aunt to my favorite country. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m in heaven every time I set foot in its borders.The rhythmic flow of Spanish is always soothing to my ears and the gigantic, ripe avocados are perfection to my palate. I don’t mind the crazy traffic of San Jose or the long bus rides through the countryside with a chicken taking up the seat next to me. Whether it be the jungle, the beach or even a sweaty dance floor, I love it all and feel so at home. Even when discussing it with other people I get possessive. Say what you want about America, but please don’t bad mouth my precious Costa Rica. I Stan for Costa Rica like the beehive swarms around Beyoncé. The moment the plane lands to a warm applause and I can see the lush green mountainside outside of my window, I’m home.
So when I read about this phenomenon I had an “aha” moment. Weiner wasn’t just talking about Linda and Jared, he was also talking about me. And I’m sure there are a lot of us out there who feel so at home in a distant land or even on the road. Has anyone else out there felt this? Where is your kindred homeland? Comment below.