Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Out of the Mouths of Babes

A family friend likes to tell this story of when I was a young child: 

Adults were relaxing around the dinner table after a lovely meal. All the other children had run outside to play, but I remained seated, attentive. At some point there was a lull in the conversation, whereupon I stood up and announced to the table "I'm going to travel the world!"
I don't remember that evening but I believe the story. Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated with other cultures. In college, I delayed an early graduation in order to study abroad. I have been blessed to live, work and travel in many different countries. If possible, I'll continue traveling throughout my life.

No matter where I go, my parents have recommendations for how to spend my time.  My mom is an architect and my dad is a foodie so my travel always includes interesting buildings and exotic foods. Despite such wonderful exposure, my most extraordinary experiences have been simple interactions with ordinary people:

  • A night in rural New Zealand, arriving at a hotel only to find it closed for renovations. The caretaker informing me there was nowhere else to go and no grocery or restaurant open at that hour. Then saying: "Well, we've got some friends coming and we're about to throw something on the barbie; why don't you stay over and join us?"
  • Taking shelter on a door stoop during a deluge in Sweden, with no money for transportation and a four mile walk ahead to the ferry. An elderly woman opening the door, comprehending my situation despite not speaking the same language, walking me to the subway with her umbrella, putting a coin in and pushing me through the turnstile as she smiled and waved goodbye.
  • A young cabbie in Iceland who was so enamored with my 78 year old, Icelandic-speaking mother-in-law, that he invited us to his house for dinner. When we told him it was our last night, he insisted we come back and stay with his family on our next vacation.

Amongst all the beauty and wonder of travel, the simple, ordinary encounters have been my most memorable and inspiring.


  1. It's funny that things like this are more memorable and inspiring when we're traveling than when we're at home. I remember vividly being in the small town of Skenfrith, a Welsh town near the English border with a castle ruin. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and a tiny old woman was out sweeping her sidewalk. That's it - whole story - in that moment I felt like my life was perfect. It was the epitome of contentment....and yet it was so ordinary.

    1. So true Martha! I think travel allows us to momentarily leave behind the worries and demands of our daily lives. Almost everything seems idyllic when you feel that freedom.

  2. Wonderful stories, L-M! There are considerate, thoughtful people the world over, and your stories prove the point. Can't wait to see your finished challenge.