I have had a chronic case of travelitis for most of my life, starting when I chose storybooks about children who lived in the steppes of Central Asia, on the banks of the Yangtze River, in the snows of the Arctic or the rainforests of Africa, over those with children who lived more as I did. One of my most cherished possessions in grade school was a paint of authentic Dutch wooden shoes that I wore so regularly I chewed the bottoms to shreds. Then, in 1962, the excited new owner of a Japanese transistor radio, I first heard the Duprees’ version of “You Belong to Me,” and I was a goner.
“See the pyramids along the Nile,” it begins, and I wondered, “Really? You can do that?” Now of all the places in the song, “the marketplace in Old Algiers” is the only one I haven’t seen. But more than anything, I credit that song with changing what I wanted for my life.
I spent a year in Edinburgh in 1969-70 in the University of California’s Education Abroad Program, but other than leaping at that opportunity, I found few others to travel even much closer to home, as marriage, career, and family became the priorities. When I was once again single and living on my own, the world broke open for me through my new freelance work as a writer of middle-school library books about countries. This gave me the funds I need to visit the countries I wrote about, and for several years, despite a full-time job as a professor, I was out of the country more than I was in, between school breaks and a sabbatical semester. I took a coastal steamer to Norway, and a train from Warsaw through Belarus to Moscow. I drove around Israel on my own.
If I thought that was living the dream, I had no idea what lay ahead. A favor to a friend led to an introduction to the manager of enrichment activities for Silversea Cruises. I sailed as a guest lecturer for them during winter and summer breaks for several years until I retired. I then began longer assignments, often gone away from my home base for months at a time and fitting in travel to places like Bhutan and Indonesia during the gaps between assignments. All in all, as I write this, I have visited ports in 100 countries, and the only continent I have not yet set foot upon is Antarctica.
I was on the train from San Diego to Los Angeles to catch a plane for Buenos Aires in March 2020 when I first hear the news that the Argentina border was closing due to Covid. I turned around and went home, not realizing that a year later I would still be waiting to hear when cruising might resume. But it will, and I intend to be there. So far, I will be scheduled as soon as possible on the three lines I now work for—Seabourn, Regent/Oceania, and Viking. No idea when that will be, but even if what lies ahead does not include cruising, I have gone more places than I ever imagined possible, and my gratitude is the size of all the oceans of the world.