After church on Sunday, my fiance Leon and I were craving Mexican food for lunch (okay, I was craving Mexican food and convinced him to crave it too).  We went on a mission to find a good restaurant nearby.

In the old days, I would have–I confess–driven around tirelessly to find a Mexican restaurant.  Or I would have sprinted to the nearest Taco Bell.  But , thanks to the gloriousness of modern technology, I was able to plug a Mexican restaurant search into my iPhone, find a listing of restaurants close by with brutally honest reviews of the food, and get GPS directions to the restaurant.

We ended up going to El Tio restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia, by the way–it was pretty good, and the chips and queso definitely satiated the pain of Mexican food cravings.  As other Texans will understand (or those growing up in states with good Mexican food), Mexican food is like an energy source.  You might be able to function okay without it for awhile, but eventually your energy supply will get low and demand replenishment.

The experience of using Google maps and GPS directions to guide Leon and me to a good place for lunch reminded me of a favorite hobby of mine that I hadn’t done for awhile:  mapsurf.

Mapsurfing is fun, educational, and entertaining.  Just go to the Google main page and pull up a Google world map.  You can scroll around the map, click on countries to get a closer look, and have a visual of the exciting world in which we live.  It’s fun, interactive, and keeps a traveler–or aspiring traveler–geographically aware (we must fight the temptation to be geographically ignorant, my fellow Americans).

Whenever I get the itch to travel and can’t, or shouldn’t, whether it be the timing/finances/realities of being an adult, I find my solace in mapsurfing.  I learn something new every time.  As well, mapsurfing makes the things you hear about in the news come to life.

Case in point:  Yesterday, June 20, 2011, was World Refugee Day.  These days we’re constantly hearing stories on the news about Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey, the Italian island of Lampedusa being bombarded by immigrants seeking refuge in Europe from the unrest in Libya and Tunisia, and so forth.  When you actually know where the country is located, it makes the news stories much more real.  It just takes a little mapsurfing to understand why people in northern Africa would be trying to get to a little Italian island.

So, whether you’re having a case of wanderlust that won’t be cured for awhile, or if you want the international news segments to make more sense, try mapsurfing.  You’ll learn something new, and you might just find a unique travel destination along the way.

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