Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Facebook Papers: The one with the really long title

Suggested Topic #6: "You have traveled to different places...how did that affect you? What did you like or dislike? What was the strangest thing you saw? Where would you like to travel if money was no object and why that place?" 

I have had the good fortune to travel a lot. I've been to most of the US states and Canadian provinces, and had my feet on five continents. The majority of the international trips have been work-related. It's a curious blend of good and bad - the good is obviously the fact that someone else pays for it, and the bad is that it can be crushingly lonely. I'm not a good explorer on my own, and when I do strike out to see the sights, I usually end up at a sidewalk cafe looking at the "real" tourists with envy.

Whether traveling for work or play, the best times are when I've been able to experience something off the beaten path, guided by someone who lives there. I've toured a hobbit house in the German hills, explored downtown Calgary with an off-duty fireman; crashed a South African wedding; played trivia at a Brit pub (I aced the Motown questions); drank from a coconut in a city park in Brazil; participated in an elder ceremony in Thailand, and shot at (and missed) a clay pigeon at a Rod & Gun club surrounded by Iowa crops. I've shopped in markets and bazaars from Tequisquiapan to Shanghai, and have been honored to be invited for home cooked meals around the globe.

I've seen strange-awesome, strange-awful and strange-awkward things. Want to see my pictures from the museum dedicated entirely to potatoes? How about the one of a slug the size of my finger? Or I wish I could show you a video of the time I was hit by a bird! 
I've seen the rain sweep through the mountains in a swinging curtain and shakily crossed a gorge on a narrow swinging bridge. I've held lion cubs and walked with elephants, interrupted a moose's lunch and seen eagles soar. I've sampled exotic foods and local wines poured by the winemaker himself. One fabulous day I renewed my wedding vows with the love of my life at the crest of Niagara Falls.  But the most memorable and enjoyable trips, short or long, have been the ones where Senior and I are on the motorcycle with no particular destination. I'm still planning my dream vacation, where the two of us explore New Zealand in just such a fashion. I want to see if that country is as breathtakingly beautiful in person as it is in pictures.

In case you're reading this and feeling a twinge of envy, I'll confess that I have travel amnesia. I try to forget all the times my stomach flip flops because I have to go on the road again, the crowded flights and missed connections and trying to navigate where I don't speak the language without getting hopelessly lost. I've spent many days trying to work while fighting jet lag and many nights in dingy hotels smack in the middle of industrial parks, wide awake at 3AM and missing my family. I've been on the other side of the world when I've received a phone call telling me that one of my children is in the emergency room. I've flown with an ear infection when I thought my head would explode, and I'm on a first name basis with Montezuma. But no matter what happens on a trip, I'm never back home for long before I get the itch to hit the road again.

So all this travel - how did it affect me? I love it. I hate it. It humbles me. The world is so big and so beautiful and so varied. And there is no place like home.


  1. oh jessie - i have learned so much more about you hear than i have sitting right next to you. you make me laugh and you make me cry and you make me so glad to be counted as a friend - j

  2. It is a rare opportunity you have been given to be able to have both work you love combined with travel to some of the most exotic places in the world. See this as a blessing to be able to experience what the average person never will. Through your writings, you allow those of us that will never have such an opportunity to dream a little bit. Thank you.