At ten years old, my Mother and Father saved up so they could send me on a trip to Toronto in Canada. I was to stay with their best friends who had emigrated the year before. Their daughter had been my best friend. The year was 1967, and the Beatles were still popular. My mum was a dressmaker and running a small shop.
They sent me for the whole six weeks of my school holiday. Perhaps they needed a break from their lively ten-year-old, although I suspect they knew this was to be an adventure of a lifetime for me. However, it was not until years later that I fully appreciated the value of their gift. I sometimes wonder about what they sacrificed to send me there. They were not well off. I remember clearly my Mother’s excitement as she started to buy my brand new clothes weeks before my trip, packing them meticulously into my new white suitcase.
I left Heathrow airport on an Air Canada DC10 as an unaccompanied minor for an eight-hour flight. I wore a green linen trouser suit my mother had made and carried a huge doll which I had named Twinkle. I also decided that I wanted to be an air hostess when I grew up and my parents told me I would need to be fluent in five languages. The stewardess I sat next to became my inspiration.
I have never forgotten that incredible experience, it taught me that adventuring was fun and something never to be afraid of.
Years later I stood on a railway station in South West France waiting for my eldest son who was just 17. He was on his first long journey alone and I have to admit I was stupidly nervous that he would be OK and had not got lost in Paris. He sauntered off the train, wearing a brown leather hat and carrying his backpack. resembling Indiana Jones, cool and with little excitement. I wanted to cry, I have no idea why, but I felt so proud of him at that moment.
Adventuring, or call it travelling became a part of my parenting, yep I have taken my kids out of school to do it, put up with the disapproving looks from their teachers, but determined they were not going to miss out if the opportunity should arrive. I organised trips around the world and faraway places and to this day they still talk about the experiences they had, the countries they had visited and the people they were able to meet.
I am presently travelling with one of my sons, he is in Cambodia with me, and I must admit we are just happy to be in a different place. It clears your head and makes you think about things, which we both need to embrace at the moment. There is an old saying that change is as good as a rest and I believe it works.
Perhaps I overthink, it is common, especially amongst women. As I watch from afar I see that my children have the most amazing qualities, all very different I might add. I watch as they grow getting caught up with the trivia that life throws at them. I went through the same, learn, work, achieve, have a baby, get a mortgage and forget what the rest of the world is up to or how other cultures get through life and other people survive. I hear from so many people, ‘I have not got time to travel’ I was the same when I was running my business. It wasn’t until I realised that if I crossed time out in my diary and planned ahead, my work would fit around the time I was away. I do have more freedom now but that also took planning.
A good Indian friend of mine recently commented about how lucky we are in the West, to be able to travel to so many places. He has been trying for two years to visit friends in Europe and has been denied. I feel humbled and yet he will welcome me into his home and I still am unable to invite him into mine. This ability is a gift that so many of us really do not know we have. The ability to be able to adventure and explore. Life calls us to do that, it opens our eyes and makes us think.
My dream is that one day there will be no borders in this amazing world and that we can travel safely and without fear or suspicion. Maybe that is a utopian way of thinking but the thought often pops into my mind. One day maybe.
It does make you think though, doesn’t it?
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