|I know, I know - I've been promising a post about my experience as a newbie EFL Teach here in Saigon for weeks now (and more recently, pics and such of last Monday's "Liberation Day" potluck with some Vietnamese chums). Ah but such blather must wait yet another week (at least) 'cuz your regularly scheduled TravelnLass broadcast has been temporarily interrupted by... |
It seems another travel meme has been darting about the travel blogosphere. This one initiated by our friends at EasyJet (and nope, alas no free jets to Paris involved here) seeking posts on the Who, What, Where and When that inspired one's penchant for travel. Fellow wanderlust Travels of Adam "tagged" the TravelnLass, so here's my WWWW of what inspired my own personal wanderlust.
The truth is, I believe that the wanderlust gene was already in my DNA from the moment I entered this merry world.
Nonetheless it clearly took me awhile to actually set out on my first serious travel adventure. You see, my family (Mom, Dad, a younger brother and older sister) wasn't exactly what you'd call the "nomadic" type. Nope, no airline pilots nor foreign ministers in my childhood world. Just your every-day, garden-variety, "Leave It To Beaver" family of the '50's. Indeed, decidedly stationary but for my dear Dad's rare win to drag the carload of us camping to the wilds of Minnesota (uh, are we there YET, Dad?) for a bit of family bonding amid the splendor of the great outdoors. And yes, Ely, Minnesota was considered both "wild" and quite the adventure for we Chicago suburbians - especially for my poor Mom, who had to cook over a wobbly camp stove for a week.
Ah, but I digress. Just Who, What, Where, When did my wanderlust kick in in earnest?
|The WHO: |
Seriously. I honestly believe my lust for roaming the globe began the moment my 10 year old brain heard the lyrics of a particular song - a decidedly sappy favorite of my parents: Patsy Cline's rendition of "You Belong to Me" that begins with: "See the pyramids along the Nile..."
That was it. That's all that it took - those few simple lines. Images in my 10 yr. old mind of those pyramids, and a "jungle...wet with rain" (little did I know then, that there are TONS of such jungles in the world - and yep, most every one I've trudged through has been quite soggy).
And especially the notion of flying "the ocean in a silver plane". Oh my yes. As early as 10, I wanted nothing more than to hop on one of those magical planes that apparently could whiz you swiftly to deliciously mystical places like "the market place in old Algiers".
|Yup, I finally made it to those "...pyramids along the Nile"!|
Ah but it was still a handful of years before I actually boarded one of those "silver planes". Finally, when I was 16 my family flew from Chicago to Connecticut to visit some old family friends who had moved to Long Island Sound. In retrospect, it must have been a HUGE event for my entire family - exceedingly spendy in the days before deregulation of the airlines, and clearly an adventure for one and all.
Looking back it now seems silly, but what made it all the more adventuresome in my adolescent mind, was that we flew on a "red-eye" though the dark of night. For some reason, that made it all the more magical - that one could actually start off after dinner in Chicago, and land on the eastern edge of the continent - in seemingly the blink of an eye.
Needless to say, the journey did absolutely NOTHING to dampen my already fertile imagination for exploring far away places.
But it would prove more than a DECADE before I actually embarked on my own serious international adventure. (did I mention, I'm a bit of a slow-learner?)
What can I say? A war (ironically, one we Americans lost, in the country I'm presently living in!) intervened and I got a tad distracted from my dreams by a few small matters like, uh...
Jumping into a (only later to learn) disastrous marriage 'cuz my (then) true love risked being sent to g-knows WHAT g-forsaken rice paddy compliments of Uncle Sam's "draft" (yes, young grasshoppers, military service was not optional in those heady days.) But on the bright side - that otherwise painful decade did bless me with two precious daughters that I promptly dragged to...
Finally free from an abusive marriage, I wasted little time in testing my long-latent wanderlust gene. As a single mom with two young daughters (aged just 5 yrs. and 8 yrs. old) I enlisted a good chum (and likewise single mom of an 8 yr. old son) and hatched a plan to wander the beaches of Mexico for a couple of weeks in the summer. I'll never forget the orange backpacks the girls wore. Towering above her flaxen head, the view from behind my 5 yr. old prompted us to dub her "The Pack with Legs".
We flew down to Nogales, AZ and then took the 24 hour train down to Mazatlan (though we enjoyed first class berths, walking through the live chicken-littered 3rd class car come morning was a "developing world" eye-opener to be sure.) But other than the flight and the 1st class rail, our little rag-tag party of 3 kids and 2 single moms was most definitely on a shoestring. We took local buses from town to town, camped on beaches mostly - relieved only every few days by a welcome night in a cheap (and believe me, truly DIRT cheap in those days) hotel.
We ate freshly baked corn tortillas from a lone vendor (a single mom just like we!) selling them out of a crack in the wall, got our ears pierced (every blessed one of us, including Danny, my friend's son), swam in the warm blue waters of the Gulf of California, and made it all the way south to Alcapulco via local buses speeding through the night (singing "Jeramiah was a Bull Frog" at the top of our lungs.)
In short, my long-dormant wanderlust was ignited in earnest.
From that moment on, there was no stopping my fervor for travel. As a single mom responsible for two youngsters I had plenty of practical considerations of course. I opted to return to college (having been abruptly interrupted in my 2nd year by Uncle Sam - see acky "war" above) to better my job opportunities and create a more secure future for my little family of three. But in my final year as an undergrad, the travel bug crept up and bit me BIG TIME. Walking home from a psychology class, I happened to see a poster for a study abroad in France. That such programs were designed for 20-somethings sans a couple of youngsters tagging along, deterred me not in the least. One glance at that poster and I was HOOKED. From that moment on, I was DEE-termined to spend a term studying in France WITH my two daughters (then age 11 and 8).
Ah but that wasn't the end of it for me. The "WHEN" of it just kept/keeps going on and on, and on.
A decade later, I opted to take my annual vacation to a (then) obscure little country by the name of "Belize" (there were no Belize guidebooks in those days, and nary a single T-shirt for sale) and...
Inspired by a young American/Swiss family running (one of only two in those days) small, rustic jungle lodge (they'd arrived with backpacks a few years earlier, and decided to stay) - little more than a handful of thatched huts, with kerosene lamps and cold water, outdoor showers, it suddenly (finally???) dawned on me:
Dyanne, you can DO absolutely ANYTHING you want!
(so.... why not...)
Suffice, upon my return, I finally caved in to the wanderlust DNA flowing through my veins once and for all. I suddenly turned my back on my (decidedly lucrative, and not at all unloved) corporate job in Denver, and opted to start my own international tour company specializing in travel to Belize (and later, Costa Rica).
Fast forward 20 years (see "So You Wanna Be an Int'l Tour Operator, Huh?" for details). I surely didn't get rich, but I spent more than two decades doing what I love - romping through jungles, lolling on beaches, and exploring far away corners of this wondrous Planet.
Even now, effectively "retired", here I am living the life of an expat, teaching English in the heart of Southeast Asia, and skipping off to ever more exotic lands every chance I get.
The wanderlust gene is unrelenting. It takes little to ignite it. And I dare say - there's no turning back once you take your first step down that road...
|P.S. Oh - if you too, would like to post your own WWWW travel inspirations, just give a holler in the comments and I'll "tag" you and place a link to your WWWWs here.|