Travel changes a person

At a seminar I recently attended, each new speaker introduced themselves by way of what they called PechaKucha. Since the organization had so many unique words of their own creation, I assumed this was an invented practice. But, it turns out that is not the case. “PechaKucha is a real thing”, one presenter told me. 

Basically, the style of PechaKucha presentations is meant to convey visual images paired with verbal information quickly and concisely. The format is usually 20 photos which are displayed for 20 seconds each. The trick is to match your speaking presentation to that cadence. (Check out my youtube channel for the movie version of this post!)

Here is what we looked like in the beginning of our family, our first trip to my youngest sister’s wedding in Calgary. We drove from our home, across the Rockies. Life was hectic in those days as we adapted to being 4 in our home. On this occasion, we managed to forget all our good clothes in the front hall closet and had to ask a neighbor to courier them to us.

14 years later, thankfully we grew up, maybe even becoming a bit wise. Adventurous, for sure. It took participation from each of us to even get to this point, heading off for our first long haul flight as a nomadic family. Life as we knew it would never be the same.

The most impressive building in Barcelona is a work in progress. Imagine your magnum opus taking the whole of your life and consuming many others, over a hundred years and still not being finished? Antonio Gaudi is known for many works in and around Barcelona. His style of design even inspired an architectural style. But his pride and joy is still being constructed, with a planned completion in 2026, a hundred and forty-four years after construction started.

600 years prior, the people of ancient Angkor built a magnificent civilization, carved out of the jungle. If it were not for international interest in the sites, they might still lie peacefully in the protection of the trees. In the silence of the stones, we were left to wonder why the people left this part of Cambodia?

Now, centuries later, the Siem Reap area is bustling again. Trade, commerce and tourists. So many visitors, scrambling their way over the remains of the past. If only the faces of Bayon could speak to the horror. The genocide. The suffering. Maybe we could learn the lessons they have to teach us.

Be careful of expectations. Their weight can be crushing. We each had a strong sense of what we thought Bali would be like. What we had not accounted for is that living in a place and being on vacation are inherently different experiences. Luckily, most of what we worried about, did not come to pass. Getting bit by a monkey being but one of the concerns on the list.

This would be our only bedside doctor’s visit. I guess you could say we left 2017 with a bang. The party on New Year’s Eve was not in our rooms. But we felt extremely grateful anyway. Nothing brings a family together better than two serious cases of Bali belly.

Being denied boarding of a flight is a first for me. In truth, I was not completely unprepared. Exactly 4 days prior I had been warned we might have a problem because we did not have the required paperwork. The missing documents were long form birth certificates for our children under the age of 18 years old. Evidently, we had to prove these were our children and therefore we were not adding to the significant problem of child trafficking. Then, I learned more about that horror than I ever wanted to know, while we waited for our paperwork in Hong Kong.

While the looming day zero kept many people from travelling to Cape Town, we looked on it as an interesting learning experience. When else were we going to get the opportunity to live with water scarcity as a test? It is kind of like looking after someone else’s baby, they are very cute for a short period, then when they fuss and cry, you get to hand them back to their parents.

These birds first appeared in Cape Point in the 1990’s. They chose this spot. The community values them and protects them. Allowing the colony to grow and flourish. But not all residents of Cape Town are that lucky. There is endemic poverty, sitting right beside areas of obvious wealth. This contrast creates tension. When clashes occur, there can be devastation for everyone involved. The solutions are elusive, as we humans resist change at the best of times. The scales of justice are particularly hard to balance when they have rusted into place with one side having so much and the other having so little.

We lived in Barcelona near to a side of the old city where many people from North Africa live, work and have businesses. It is thriving but divided somewhat. With that in the back of my mind, I had expectations of the cosmopolitan city of Casablanca. We found it in flux, either under active construction or in need of it. Dust, rubble and cranes as far as the eye could see turning the sky a shade of grey. We tried to see the real city and ended up in Ricks’s cafe instead. Sadly, Humphrey Bogart was not in the house.

At the beginning of our trip, I read a book which detailed an experience about a Moroccan farm worker in the greenhouses of Almeria. It was a harrowing tale of what life has been like, for some people in the sea of plastic, which supplies fresh produce to the grocery stores of Europe. It is a sad story about how disconnected we have become to the source of our food. Most of us have no idea where it comes from, what it looks like to begin with or what is involved to bring it to market.

I thought that Alhambra was a place of pure Spanish history, whatever I thought that was. However, there is no singular note in the sprawling complex. Instead it is connecting to all the people who called the Southern Iberian peninsula home. One nation in flux with another through conflict, treaties and liaisons. This ebb and flow is a delight as the story over time has a long arc, with many players.

There are ancient Roman ruins everywhere in Italy. You do not have to be limited to the famous sights in the major cities. If we had not bailed on our Airbnb booking, we would have missed the chance to have unfettered access to Ostia Antica, a once important city. It is awe-inspiring to walk in the footsteps of those who inhabited this place at the height of its power.

History in Europe is a fascinating subject because much of the important events happened so long ago. The walls of Dubrovnik were built to fortify the city from ancient threats. It would have been inconceivable to the stone masons to think that the largest devastation would come in modern times, during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

I have complicated feelings about Istanbul. On one hand, it is a lively, eclectic and vibrant place. The people are animated and full of passion. The architecture is exotic. The history is deep. On the other hand, the government of Turkey has brutalized journalists and then somehow managed to be re-elected by the people.

The birthplace of democracy and home to the ancient Greek gods, Athens is deeply rooted in so much history. Similar to ancient Rome in many ways and yet completely different. The Greek language seems to foster a unique sensibility. It was magical to stand on this sacred ground. I hope to return someday when the restorations are complete.

Tourists flock to the Greek islands for sun, sand and a laid-back lifestyle. On Crete, the natural beauty is peppered between groves of olive trees and ruins. The old and new play off each other seamlessly. For some, the island represents a respite for daily life. A tonic. Cretans seem to happily share the magic of their island.

London cannot be summarized in a few sentences, there is far too much to do and see. It all depends on focus. We shopped, ate and took in the theatre. Shakespeare’s Globe did not disappoint, with a hilarious production of “As You Like It”. Our last night of the trip, we deserved a big finale!

10 months, 21 countries and 32 cities later we stood in the same spot as we left. We are the same people, or are we? I’m not as sure about as much in life as I used to be. I am open to questions and curiosity. I think there are good bits on the margins, living way outside my comfort zone. This is where life gets good. Right where creativity takes hold.

#creaspatreat – Join me in this creative journey. I am on a mission to start a global movement, focusing on the importance of creativity in our daily lives. Together, let us see where we can take this. I look forward to hearing from you! Please share your thoughts. Feel free to send an email to: Christine@dailycreatives.com

My creative year:
: : Developing, testing and enjoying a life I don’t need a vacation from while working in an office and commuting on public transit! 
: : This is where my ideas for creaspatreat will come to life. Don’t miss any of it by joining us!
: : Check out new projects on my youtube channel called creative wandering. #dailycreatives

Published books:
: : “Fruitless at 40: Rediscovering My Creative Power

Daily Creatives Resources:
: : Be brave, it is going to be good
: : Why don’t they teach wellness in school?
: : Teach women, invest in a community
: : Crea.spa.treat. what do you think it means?
: : Living in stress, moving to relaxation, looking for ikigai

Would you like a free download of….
: : The first chapter from Fruitless at 40 and
: : My tried and true packing list, developed from long-term, around the world travel?
: : Join us!

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