The other day I set out to run errands midmorning and my car wouldn’t start. As is my wont, I called my brother, who dutifully set aside his morning plans and drove twenty minutes in to town with his portable, plug-in battery charger/diagnostician, to prevent the meltdown his sister would surely have if she were stranded for an hour or two in her comfortable home.
We ended up at Auto Zone watching a nice young man install a new battery. My brother, a farmer, was telling me a funny (in hindsight) story about saving seeds from a batch of habañeros he’d grown; his farmer’s hands are immune to the oil but he wiped the sweat from his face and got a rude, burning surprise.
The Auto Zone man engaged in a lively conversation with us about how best to handle peppers and Scoville units and what to do about it when you forget you have pepper juice on you (hint: milk, not water). He talked about police-grade pepper spray, made from the hottest peppers. He was quite knowledgeable. Finally I said, “Do you grow peppers? Are you a cook? A chili competitor?”
No, he’d watched a show on the Discovery Channel. “You can learn a lot of interesting things on television,” he said.
Indeed, you can.
But I like to do my own discovery. I like to travel. I like to see things for myself.
Although I rarely rearrange my furniture, I am adventurous when it comes to new travel experiences. I think both are by-products of growing up in a military family. My father was an air force pilot.
We lived in Stephenville, Newfoundland, in Canada, for three years when I was a young child. I still have very vivid memories of the experience. The culture was so different, so … not-American. I loved the folk songs I heard, and made my parents buy me a record of them, which I still have. I can still sing some of the songs, even.
I’se the b’y who builds th’ boat
and I’se the b’y who sails ’er,
I’se the b’y who catches the fish
and brings ’em ’ome to Liza …
I think this may have been the beginning of my fascination with the foreign.
I always thought I would travel more. My parents made sure we saw every national park and roadside attraction, of course. We had a family vacation in Hawaii in the 1960s, which was quite an eye-opener. I grew up, got married, didn’t make much money, got caught up in, you know, just staying alive. Sure, there was the odd trip or two into Mexico. And my husband and I spent every opportunity in Yosemite National Park, since we were just an hour’s drive away.
But I wanted to go to Greece. I wanted to go to England. Italy. Vienna, as the song said, was awaiting me.
I was a single mother before I made it across the Atlantic with my sixteen-year-old son in 2000. Our British hosts gave me a blank book upon our arrival. “Write everything down,” they said. “Otherwise you’ll forget the details.”
And God, as you know, is in the details.
I wrote a travelogue about that trip, and e-mailed it, a chapter at a time, to friends who wanted to hear about it. Upon the announcement of subsequent trips, I was asked, “You’re going to do another travelogue, aren’t you?”
Well, yes, I am. 🙂
I’m getting ready for another trip now. I’ll tell you all about it.