The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ~St. Augustine
10 years have gone by. Wow. Has it really been that long? My passport expires today, March 1, 2011. A lot has changed since that bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 16 year old bought her first international ticket to Guatemala.
The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes “sight-seeing.” ~Daniel J. Boorstin
I remember stepping off that plane into the hot, humid air. The smells were so different than anything I had ever smelled before. The colors were vibrant. And the people, well they were some of the most cheerful folks I had ever met. I knew it was going to be 10 days that changed the course of my life.
To get away from one’s working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one’s self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change. ~Charles Horton Cooley
We went from village to village, distributing food and clothes. We passed out candy to kids and did puppet shows for them. We slept in huts and ate the most random of things – guinea pig, and snake. Was this really what I signed up for?
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. ~Mark Twain?
Those 10 days did indeed change my life. I haven’t looked back since. Now, 10 years later I look back over the places I have gone. When I think about my travels I see faces – faces of many, many, many children who are diseased and broken. I see faces of moms and dads who have nothing. But I also see faces of hope, and of joy, and of contentment.
To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. ~Aldous Huxley
I never imagined I would have the opportunity to live overseas, but moving to Denmark was certainly one of the best decisions I ever made. By living in Europe I was able to travel to many other European countries on leisure. The adventures that my friends and I found there? Oh, good Lord, do we have stories…
I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself. ~James Baldwin?
And the food. Let’s talk for just a second about some of the food I have eaten in these 26 countries I have been to. I already mentioned Guinea pig and snake. I can’t possibly forget about the fried stink bugs, earth worms, and mashed raw goldfish. Or the flies that were in every. single. dish. in. Kenya. I don’t think they were part of the recipe, but the locals seemed to accept that as a normal part of their diet. *gag* Oh, and the best one? Rat. I kid you not. Some memories are better left in my past….
We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. ~Hilaire Belloc?
26 countries and counting. As I left the passport office the other day with my brand new passport, the security guard said “See you in 10 years!” and I thought to myself “If the next 10 years bring only half the adventure and experiences these last 10 years have held, then I will certainly be the most blessed and fortunate woman in the world.”
Out with the old, in with the new.
Let’s talk about how happy I am to have a new passport photo. Yes, I was once a blond.
Left – the stamp that started it all. Right – one of 5 visas which I had to obtain in Denmark every year.
HA! Every time I look at this photo I laugh. It was taken at 7AM in one of those train station photo booths…but this booth had no light, no blinking thing, no countdown. I wondered if it even worked, and then I saw my pictures come out on the bottom. There were four pictures. This one was the best. Take note of my googly eyes. You can only imagine how the other 3 looked.
Can we all shout “Hallelujah!” for new passport photos??
The first thing I think about with each of the places I have been…
1. America – I guess I don’t need a “memory” from this one.
2. Guatemala – All the colors and smells upon landing on foreign soil for the first time.
3. Peru – Horseback riding through the Andes mountains and caving through the temple of the moon god.
4. El Salvador – The place we stayed at was high on a mountain, overlooking a lake. When you walked down the the lake there was this trapeze 30 feet above the water. Major. Good. Times.
5. Dominican Republic – Working at a village of orphaned children. Their parents would drop them off if they were unwanted so it was literally a village of kids raising kids. Non
6. Haiti – The filth and fumes. :/
7. Denmark – This one is kind alike “America” – can’t come up with just one memory. But I really miss riding my bike everywhere, and Danish summers.
8. Sweden – Skiing!!
9. Norway – Just a unique beauty in Oslo.
10. Iceland – My first kiss in the Blue lagoon. 🙂
11. Germany – The architecture in Berlin was so fascinating – war ridden buildings with entire sides missing from being bombed, right next to state of the art buildings made of glass.
12. Belgium – My favorite chocolate shop in the world is here!! Gahhh! I am salivating thinking of it. Every time I went to Belgium, I made sure I stopped at this shop to get a kilo of homemade chocolate truffles.
13. England – The food tastes like crap. Whoops, did I just say that? Yeah that is the first thing I think about with England. The town of Southport is super cute, though.
14. France – Two main memories. #1 – Charles De Gaulle is the worst airport in the world, hands down. #2 – Marseille is quite possibly my favorite city in Europe. And the hiking is FANTASTIC! And there is this pastry shop…. *le sigh*
15. Holland – The people of Holland are soooo nice and hospitable. And I love their street side pomme frites (french fries).
16. Switzerland – One of the prettiest European countries, hands down. Everytime I came here it was to visit a dear friend, so my memories of the land of the Swiss have all to do with her. 🙂
17. Italy – The seaside town of Camogli. I have never been to a place to beautiful. It is heaven on earth.
18. Malta – Oh, Malta. Not gonna lie – driving on the opposite road provided more than a few laughs for Katie and I.
19. Spain – Stepping inside the old colosseums where people used to be hung was surreal. Tarragona is an especially beautiful town/city.
20. Portugal – The little alleys in Portugal and the small mountainside towns were just way too cute for words.
21. Egypt – Scuba diving, for my first time, in the Red Sea. Upon descending 15 meters below the surface and seeing animals and plants in colors I have never seen before, I remember thinking “how can anyone doubt there is a God?” It was magical. Came me a new appreciate for the Little Mermaid.
22. Kenya – Yolanda, Tribal dances around fires, the colorful Masai people, and orange Fanta. The Orange Fanta was our only relief from the heat.
23. Tanzania – Dirt biking through the mountains of Arusha was pretty awesome. The sunburn I got the day was not.
24. Laos – Hiking for 8 hours a day, 5 days straight. OMG – I thought I was going to die. THe people of Laos were extremely nice and the food was fantastic.
25. Thailand – Can you say “Thai massages”???
26. Russia – The only country I have no desire to return to. The best part was eating at Hard Rock Cafe.
So now this curious adventurer wants to know – where have YOU been and what are some of your favorite memories form those places? Stateside or International 🙂