Posted tagged ‘travel’

“Never hesitate to go far away, beyond all seas, all frontiers, all countries, all beliefs.”

June 22, 2017

Today is lovely. I woke up to a blue sky and the brightest eye squinting sunshine I’ve seen in a while. My house is comfortably cool. Outside my window, I can see chickadees on the branches munching sunflower seeds. None of the leaves of the oak tree are blowing. It is a still day.

Though Gracie ate on Tuesday, around midnight she started panting and walking from room to room. She’d sit on the couch for a bit then get up and walk some more. Around 12:30 am, I took her to the emergency vet for the third early morning in a row. She was given anti-nausea medication which settled her down. The vet told me that this was treating only a symptom. I already knew that. She suggested a battery of tests, most of which I probably can’t afford.

Last night was different. During the day, she ate two small cans of dog food, not her usual as I was tempting her taste buds. She ate treats, new treats. She napped and last night slept through the night. I had anti-nausea pills for her, but she didn’t need them. She and Maddie, the cat, are having their morning naps now. I’m going to take one later. I am exhausted.

The best part of any summer has always been having empty days to fill.  When I was a kid, it was games and crafts at the local playground. I’d be there all day. During high school, I did little on summer days, but I was never bored. When I was in college, it was a summer job which I didn’t really mind. Working in the post office was easy and paid well. The pace was slow. Europe filled my summers when I was a teacher. My trips generally lasted 4 to 5 weeks. I knew how to travel on little money. I slept in hostels or on night buses. I ate as cheaply as possible sometimes buying bread and sandwich fixings. I found bars where I could get a drink and eat my way through happy hour. I had only a broad itinerary open to change. It was a wonderful way to travel. They were some of my favorite summers.

Posting my Ghana pictures yesterday got me thinking about the faraway places I love. Ghana, of course, is my favorite. The rest are in no order, no preference. Old Quito is on that list. The narrow streets, the old buildings, the colors and the women’s hats still have a prominent place in my memory drawers. I loved Portugal and Morocco and the Roman ruins in Italy. Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso was my second favorite spot in Africa. It was my weekend getaway. The beauty of the Andes took my breath away. On overnight bus rides, stops at roadside restaurants where the menus were in languages I didn’t understand and peeing in a hole in the little house in the back were part of the adventure. In Morocco and in Ghana I found out that thitting the hole is a lifetime skill.

I don’t travel summers anymore, but I keep my passport up to date just in case.

“Adventure is worthwhile.”

October 10, 2016

This morning came at 4 o’clock, but I did go to bed at 8 so the early day wasn’t surprising. Right now I’m catching up with the debate by watching MSNBC. I despair.

Yesterday it rained all day and last night the rain fell in a deluge. It was the wettest day in the entire year. The wind blew so hard I could hear it howling. Gracie wouldn’t go out before bed. She took one look and backed away from the door. Smart dog!

I will try and empty my luggage today. I might even do a wash. I did exert myself and go shopping yesterday for animal and people food. We will all eat well for the next few days. I figure one of the best parts of a trip is not having to do anything but enjoy the travel. My room is cleaned. I eat at restaurants. My clothes get washed.

In Ghana time is relative. The Ghanaians distinguish between African time and European time. If Grace, one of my former students, said she’d be at our hotel at 10. We figured if she was there by 11, she’d be early. I’m coming is a favorite Ghanaian comment. It just means that at some time the expected visitor will arrive. The only exception is at a red light. The time between the light turning green and the first horn is about a second or two.

I am glad for the cool days here at home. I spent my entire time in Ghana sweaty. Beads of sweat rolled down my cheeks, and the back of my head was always soaked. Needing a sweatshirt in the cold, early morning is a joy. I probably won’t think the same when the temperature drops to below freezing.

Ghana is not known for its coffee. It is always instant with either evaporated milk or milk powder. I am now on my third cup of real coffee. Maybe I won’t need a nap today.

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”

August 26, 2016

Today I’m back behind closed windows and doors. I went without the air conditioner for about an hour. The house went up 4˚ so on went the air. Last night it rained. I was in bed in that not quite asleep not quite awake stage when I thought I heard raindrops. I lifted my head from the pillow to listen and heard drops against the window. That was the sound which lulled me to sleep.

Th Mousetrap is the last play of the season at the Cape Playhouse. I saw it a couple of times in London so I’m not all that excited to see it again, but the play got a wonderful review in the Cape Cod Times so I’m back and forth about going tonight. Right now I’m in my cozy clothes and comfortable and cool. I’m even contemplating a nap. I figure laziness will factor into my decision as will a pizza delivery for dinner.

It is getting darker and cloudier. The sun has disappeared. The breeze is greater but is still hot. There is only a possibility of rain, but I’m hoping. I read an article this morning about how easy it is in Europe to recognize American tourists. Hoodies, running shoes, fanny packs, t-shirts with graphics, big tips, North Face, good teeth and water with meals were some of the identifiers. When I was young, I had a backpack which, back then, was probably screaming American. I wore sneakers and jeans. I couldn’t afford a big tip. When I was older, I used suitcases and dressed better.

I read an article this morning about how easy it is in Europe to recognize American tourists. Hoodies, running shoes, fanny packs, t-shirts with graphics, big tips, North Face, good teeth and water with meals were some of the identifiers. When I was young, I had a backpack which, back then, was probably screaming American. I wore sneakers and jeans. I couldn’t afford a big tip. When I was older, I used suitcases and dressed better. A red Marimeko bag I had bought in Finland was slung across my shoulders and carried what was important like money, my passport in a case I had made in Ghana and my camera. I still didn’t tip well.

My last three trips have been to Africa: one to Morocco and two to Ghana. It doesn’t matter what I wear or what I carry as my skin color is enough of an identifier though in Ghana they think I’m a European.

Now I bring one suitcase and a carry-on which has adapters, medications, my iPad, a change of clothes, a notebook and my camera. I still carry the Marimeko bag I bought in 1972 and it still carries what is important including the passport case made in the Bolga market in Ghana in 1970. They are the only continuity when I travel.

Jet Liner: Steve Miller Band

August 4, 2016

“Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re real quite lucky.”

July 28, 2014

Yesterday I decided I was perfectly content. At the time I was sitting in my AC cooled house watching a really, really bad science fiction movie called Sharktopus, hunting on-line for a DVD of The Thing with Two Heads and eating muhammara and bread. All of a sudden I had a revelation. I didn’t need a thing.

When I was growing up, people asked me what I wanted to be, but they never asked me how I wanted to feel. If you think about it, that seems a really important question. How did I want to greet every day of my life? Did I want to bemoan my fate or smile at the luck of having another day. I suppose I could have said that whatever I chose to do had to make me happy, but no little kid would think that in a million years. Besides, I was too busy thinking about the next day or the coming weekend, about as far ahead as I could handle. I knew I wanted to travel suffering as I was from Barrett syndrome, but I had no idea where. Somewhere, anywhere was okay with me. I didn’t have a plan. Traveling for the sake of traveling just hung around my head and never left.

In the long run, I have always been thankful for the trip of my life. It has been far more than I could ever have imagined. I’d tell ten-year old me to enjoy what’s coming. I’d also tell the young me not to worry. Bad times don’t last. Good memories do.

No question about it: I am content, and I greet every day with a grin.

“Hope combined with action is the only thing that will bring you contentment.”

July 17, 2014

The rain was light but steady when I went to bed. During the day it had gotten heavy at times, and I had a flooded floor in the kitchen when I got back from my errands as I had left the back door open. It took a mop. By afternoon the humidity was thick and stifling so I put on the air. The house felt wonderful and I slept until 10, unusual for me. I turned the air off this morning as the day is cooler and less humid than it has been. The sun is even breaking through and the day is getting lighter. I didn’t begrudge the rain. We needed it.

Once I wanted to be Annie Oakley, a horse riding sharp shooting cowgirl who also happened to be the sheriff. I didn’t realize it at the time but she wasn’t stereotypical which is what I think drew me to her. Many of my favorite characters were girls and women who were smart, brave and daring. I loved Lois Lane though I hated those tiny hats, the suits she wore and the purse she always carried. She was dogged in her pursuit of a story and the identity of Superman, and she never let being a woman stand in her way though she did end up being saved time and time again by Superman. TV in the 50’s had few strong women characters. Most, like June Cleaver, wore dresses, pearls and aprons and had dinner ready when their husbands came home from work. Alice Kramden managed to break out a bit. She wore the apron but she was never cowered by Ralph.

As I was growing up, I knew I’d go to college. No one in my family had, but I just knew I would. It was part of the plan I had hatched when I was young, as young as ten or eleven. I’d go to college then I’d travel the world. There was neither doubt nor hesitation in my mind.

When I graduated from college, my mother told that she and my father had never envisioned that one of their kids would go to college. They were both thrilled and proud that I had. Earlier, though, they weren’t so thrilled and proud when I had announced the next part of my plan, traveling the world. My father forbade me to accept the Peace Corps invitation to go to Ghana. I mean really, here I was twenty-one, a few months from graduating, and my father actually thought he could stop me from doing what I wanted. If I hadn’t been so angry, I would have laughed at the absurdity. I ignored him, and he knew I was going with or without his support so he begrudgingly accepted my decision and gave his support.

My life has worked out even better than I had envisioned. It has been so much more.

“No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell.”

May 12, 2014

Today is already warm, and the cats have found the sun streaming through the door and are stretched out on the mat. Gracie is having her morning nap and is noisily snoring. As with Pippa Passing, “All is right with the world.”

I fell when I was in New Hampshire. The soles of my shoes grabbed the stair rugs, and I was most careful until I wasn’t. My left foot stepped down but my right foot stayed put. As it was unexpected, I went down hard, hit the door jamb with my face, scrapped my foot and wrist and slammed both of my knees. My glasses flew off and one lens went into hiding. The glasses saved most of my face but the left cheek and over my eyebrow hit the wood. Today, two days later, my knees, especially my left, are still painful. Getting up from a sitting position is the worst, and I do yowl a bit but I’ll survive.

Falling isn’t new for me. I started when I was around four or five with a fractured wrist, got a sprained ankle when I was a bit older, fractured my shoulder, fell down the inside stairs and the outside, knocking myself out both times and badly sprained my ankle again on the mat by the front door. There are probably more, but those are the highlights.

I had a wonderful time in New Hampshire, but I was glad to get home.

When I was a kid, we went on very few stay-away vacations. I remember Vermont and the huge white house with the porch. It was across a rural highway from a lake. We had to be watched when we went swimming as there was a drop off to deep water not that far from the shore, but there was plenty to keep a kid busy in the woods and in the stream running by the house. I remember the time in Maine, in Ogunquit, at the smallest cabin in a host of cabins. I remember seeing naked people sleeping on a blanket in the dunes, how cold the water was and how boring the vacations were. The vacation to beat all vacations was to Niagara Falls. That was the first and only time we stayed in motels. I remember it all: the falls, the Eisenhower Locks, Lake Ontario, Madam Tussaud’s and eating at McDonald’s.

I am forever thankful for the vacations when we stayed home. My parents took us to museums, and I am still attracted to museums wherever I travel. Beaches, learning to body surf from my father, my mother’s packed lunches, and learning to skip stones are some of the best memories of my childhood.