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Monday, April 8, 2019

When I look at the world: 29 pictures and 1 thing I know

“I want to know, not just believe, that the world is round.” —Anne of Green Gables

Tanzania
There's no doubt that we've changed in the course of our travels. T. didn’t have hearing aids when we left England, nor did I have reading glasses. We’re older, possibly wiser, not to say sadder! I set out with, I hope, an open mind about the world, but I have come back with an absolute conviction.
Sunrise, Australia
When we got back, I tuned the radio to the BBC news. It was as if we’d never left. In terms of “Brexit” or what the U.S. administration is up to, it might as well be 2017. I say that not to make a political point but to bring you this message: The world is way more beautiful than it sounds.
Laos
Before you think I’m criticizing “the media,” first of all writing is a medium. But also, a free press plays a vital role in the defense of democracy. And journalists sometimes pay with their lives. I’m thinking of those reporters who were killed covering the U.S war in Vietnam, or these in Peru, during that country’s internal conflict.
Jorge Sedano, Amador García, Luis Mendívil, Félix Gavilán, Pedro Sánchez, Willy Retto, and Edmundo de la Piniella
No, what I mean is that the world is not filled with people trying to hurt or take advantage of one another. The world is filled with friendly people who will help you if they can. We’ve been to 29 countries* and in 22 months, I don’t remember anything being stolen. We have taken some thirty flights, on all six continents, without experiencing so much as a serious delay. Things usually work out. We’ve had some problems, notably T’s health crisis, but even then people came out of the woodwork to help us.

Either we have been extraordinarily lucky, or what I suspected about the world is true: “Man bites dog” is news, and bad things make the news because they are still the exceptions, rather than the rule.
Thailand
I am not a naïve person. Our travels have taken us to Auschwitz and the Cambodian killing fields. But when you hear about the latest atrocity, look at all the people around who are trying to help. One man caused so much death and destruction in Christchurch, but did you see the people across New Zealand who found their local mosques, visited with flowers, stood in solidarity with their neighbors? People all around the world are like this.
New Zealand
I am here to tell you that, and to highlight some of my favourite moments.

Western Australia
FAVORITE COUNTRIES: It's hard to pick favorites, but Slovenia wowed us with its beauty, its understatedness, and how easy it was to travel there.
Slovenia
Tanzania, of course, was and is a favorite of mine.
Tanzania
And Laos was the real discovery in southeast Asia. I thought it was the most beautiful country and again, very accessible to travel in.
Laos
FAVORITE CITIES: We felt at home in Prague the moment we got there. I would definitely go back.
Czech Republic
Toronto--not for its beauty but because it's the closest I have to a hometown (I grew up in the country!) And Portland, Oregon is a city I'd love to spend more time in. I was also pleasantly surprised by Saskatoon, though I wouldn't want to stay there in winter.

FAVORITE WILDLIFE EXPERIENCES: Too many to list. Our day with the elephants was one of the best ever.
Thailand
The bears in Alaska were amazingly close.
U.S.A.
The polar bears near Churchill, Manitoba lived up to all "trip of a lifetime" expectations.
Canada. Photo courtesy of T.
And I don't have an underwater camera, but I don't think anything will top snorkeling with sea lions in Galápagos National Park.

Ecuador

Speaking of NATIONAL PARKS: Grand Teton, Wyoming
U.S.A.
Mostly because we got to visit with my family.


Glacier, Montana:
U.S.A.
Cape Range in Western Australia, specifically snorkeling Ningaloo Reef.
Australia
And the "living up to expectations" prize goes to Jasper, Alberta.
Canada

EXPERIENCES I WOULD TRY AGAIN: Kilimanjaro. I'm not saying I will do it again, but yes, I would.
Tanzania
Mauritius. Is any ocean prettier than the Indian? Mind you, now that Audrey's husband has retired I don't expect either of them ever to come back from Mauritius--but please do, Audrey! And while the Indian Ocean sunsets are incredible, no country on earth can be more beautiful than New Zealand. I'd love to make it to the South Island next time.
New Zealand
I wouldn't mind going back to the Galápagos either, if T. was her healthy, active self. (And if we saved up for a cruise of the islands!)
Ecuador
OTHER ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MOMENTS: Buffy Sainte-Marie live in Vancouver.
Canada
The Hubbard Glacier "calving" an iceberg in Alaska.
U.S.A.
Continuing the glacial theme--climbing to Humantay Lake on the Salkantay Trek.
Peru
In some ways, the world seems bigger to me now. Everywhere we’ve gone, even when we’ve spent months in a country, we’ve only scratched the surface of just those corners where we were. At the same time, the world seems smaller and fragile. Given modern modes of transport, no place on earth is much more than twenty-four hours’ journey away. And yet we all have to live here. As the young Army officer said to his fellow Americans: “Can’t you guys be nice to each other?” It is tragic what happens to places when people can’t get along.
Another sunrise in Australia
We all have to share this one planet and that is very real to me now, not just an environmental slogan. And people are not that different. Each individual is unique (and precious in the eyes of God), but people in general are not that different around the world. We want our families to be safe, we want to have a good life.
Laos
I look at these maps of all the places we've traveled in the world and I realize, I really love the world. Not just in the "save the planet, reuse your shopping bag" sense (although that's a very good idea). But because it is our home. We have to find better ways to live, together, for everyone's child's sake.
This cheetah is the best picture of the trip. From T's safari, Tanzania
*The 29 countries:

1. EUROPE
Wales (U.K.)
Ireland
France
Spain
Italy
Slovenia
Austria
Hungary
Czech Republic
Germany
Netherlands

2. AFRICA
Tanzania
South Africa
Mauritius

3. ASIA
Thailand
Myanmar
Laos
Vietnam
Hong Kong (China)
Cambodia
Malaysia
Singapore

4. OCEANIA
Australia
New Zealand

5. NORTH AMERICA
United States of America
Canada

6. LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
Cuba
Peru
Ecuador

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A fine and poignant celebration of your trip of a lifetime, of this home we call Earth, and the willingness of most people to be friendly, even very helpful in a crisis. This is a wonderful recap of a (mostly) splendid journey, marked by photographic highlights, like "Sunrise, Australia," waterfalls in Laos, a NZ sunset, a glacial lake in Peru, and that incredible portrait of a cheetah, much too close for comfort! P & G

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