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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Have Passport, Will Travel

One of the most interesting things about me is that from ages 7-17, I lived overseas. No, I'm not a military brat, just a brat. :) Actually, my parents worked in American international schools for 28 years. For 10 of those years, I lived with them in Karachi, Pakistan, Banjul, The Gambia, in West Africa and Maracaibo, Venezuela. After I returned to Arizona for my senior year of high school, followed by college, my parents and sister went on to live in Somalia, Mozambique, Myanmar and Tunisia. Needless to say, I have five passports and they are all full of stamps, visas and wonderful, rich memories.

My parents weren't adventure seekers by any means, they just loved to travel, experience new cultures and didn't mind "hardship" posts in third world countries, plus they made a much better living working as educators overseas than they would have in the United States.

People always want to know which place I enjoyed living in the most and honestly I enjoyed them all equally. Each place was located near the water, which I loved and because I was at such different stages of my adolescence when we would move, it didn't occur to me that I should have been upset about it. Don't get me wrong, it was always hard to pick up, say goodbye to friends and move on to the next location, but I knew I would make new friends and therefore welcomed the change. I also learned at an early age the importance of correspondence and how keeping in touch with people would make them feel closer even when they weren’t and to this day, many of the friends I have, I do because of it.

Our summers were spent in Arizona, (yes, one of the hottest places on earth in June and July, but my parents loved the weather and knew that someday they'd want to retire there, so Arizona it was) where we would rent an apartment and "play house" as my mom would say and did our best to help the U.S. economy by stocking up on all of our favorite stateside treats and taking in as much western culture as possible. We would spend hours in front of the TV, listening to the radio, in cool movie theaters, at the mall and eating junk food. Living where we did, we didn’t have access to the “creature comforts of home” as we called them; things like the brand of deodorant, hair products or face cream we liked to use, current magazines, or the latest style of clothing.

Not only did we live in exotic places, we also travelled to exotic places every chance we had. Some of the highlights include: Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Italy, Egypt, and Madagascar. My very favorite excursion was during Christmas, 1990 to Kenya. We went on safari at the Masai Mara National Reserve. Always an animal lover, it was beyond thrilling to come within just mere feet of elephants, giraffes, lions and zebras. This is the trip your dad and I talk about taking you on just as soon as you are old enough.

With much gratitude to my parents, over the years I have seen so many wonderful things around the globe: the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt, the breathtaking Taj Mahal in Agra, golden pagodas in Bangkok, happy wild sunflowers growing along the countryside in the Loire Valley in France, the turquoise blue waters of Morrocoy, Venezuela, and the Garden Route in South Africa. I know how lucky I am to be an American, but I appreciate being exposed to so many different sides of the world and I love knowing that there are still many customs, colors, cultures and cuisines yet for me to discover.

The travel bug has definitely been embedded in me and luckily your dad has it too, and together we have also taken some great trips. Your first passport just arrived and we are taking you to Italy in November! You are now free to roam about the world, little boy…just take me with you!

The best is yet to be.

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