Touched by Wanderlust

My “affliction” of Wanderlust began at a very young age. By the time I was 4 years old, I had lived in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on a Texas army base and a college town in Central Texas. Every year, my family traveled the entire month of August from the dusty roads of West Texas to the white sands of New Mexico to the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Finally, by thirteen we expanded the West Texas/New Mexico tour to include Arizona, Nevada and California…I was hooked, a travel junkie for sure. The scenery, of course, was the main attraction, but the people and cultures even to a thirteen year old were so interesting.

Speaking of cultures, nothing fascinated me more than the Native American women who surrounded the square in Santa Fe selling their beautiful turquoise jewelry. They wore traditional tribal beaded clothing and moccasins. Oh how I wanted a pair of those white beaded shoes.

My mother stepped into a shop but I remained outside talking to one of the sellers. The elderly Native American woman told me they were asking people to sign a petition to restrict merchants from stocking their stores with jewelry from other states which hurt the local artist. Of course, my mother came out to find me going down the line signing all of the petitions. I think that may have been the beginning of my career to be a voice for people that didn’t have one.

Late in my thirties I moved to New Orleans, what an amazing cultural experience it was. The richness of history, the invisible pain that still surrounded the slave market in the French Quarters, the mystery of the voodoo practice, it was almost a sensory overload. I left six years later feeling my life was enriched beyond belief and I knew I would long for that city for the rest of my life.

Walking up steep mountains in the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico where people still had floors of dirt, houses of straw and mud.

Landing in Nairobi, Kenya and seeing a giraffe running in the distance as if chasing the airplane, visions I would always remember.

Watching a young Haitian boy riding his donkey into the sugar cane fields to work in the humidity of the summer, knowing he would do this for the rest of his life. Our eyes met, he looked at me as if to say, can you help me, can you give me opportunity of a better life. Thankfully, we did help his mother to start a small business, I want to believe that she will be able to put him into school instead of the sugar cane field.

A propeller plane to the Uraba Coast of Colombia took me to a magical place where ferns grew the size of trees. Rich, amazing coffee beans grew in the clouds where the mountains peaked through…it was all so unbelievable.

Travel at home was a gift as well, the Grand Canyon which simply can’t be captured in a photo. Walking around Mt. Vernon and realizing that our country’s father, George Washington once walked those same grounds was unreal in many ways. History comes alive if you allow yourself to become immersed in the things around you.

Through my wanderlust I found one common fact…we are basically all the same. Mothers want their children to have better lives than theirs, fathers want to provide for their families. We all marvel at beautiful rainbows and sunsets. Our faiths may be different but still have a common theme, we dream of a better world, we pray for peace.

Go and see, go and meet, go and learn. Experience the communities near and far. I am so grateful that I was allowed to let my wanderlust lead me to places I could only imagine. There are so many places I have never seen but the ones that I have enriched my life.

Someday, my traveling days may end, but I smile and realize that when I am sitting on my porch watching a glorious sunset, I will recall one from Africa, when I drink my cup of morning coffee, I will taste the richness of the fresh mountain coffee beans. I have filled my memory bank –ready to withdraw memories whenever I need. What a beautiful world indeed.