Two years ago, if you told me I would be waiting for a bus in the snow in Eastern Russia, I would have laughed. Ten years ago, I would have said you were crazy. I had spent a month in the UK while at university, and just the past summer, a week in Mexico, and thought I had done my share of traveling. Oh yes – and I had been to Sundance, Wyoming twice for long weekends. Most people I knew didn’t travel, even that far.
Yet – here I am……. there is my bus just crossing the intersection to take me to my Russian class. Living in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and loving it. Not understanding most of what is said around me, but smiling Thank You to the young man who gives me his seat in the bus, and waving to the driver who lets me into the lane. Finding gentle, helpful people everywhere.
This morning, I took a “How Many Places Have You Been” questionnaire. Out of a possible 100, I had visited 14. But when I looked at the list – what an interesting selection that 14 made! The Taj Mahal in India, the pyramids in Egypt, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, the Kremlin.
Where I lost out were the abundant sites listed in the USA and Europe, Yes, I had seen the canals of Amsterdam, but they didn’t ask me about Preikestollen (the Pulpit Rock) in Norway, or Monte Carlo, Monaco – well, OK, I just drove through, but I was there. What about snorkeling in the Maldives, or visiting the Jeita Grotto just outside of Beirut, or the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok? What about seeing the Burj Khalifa under construction in Dubai, or attending camel races in Kuwait?
When I think of the amazing things I have seen that are no more, or have been devastaed by warfare – like the Citadel in Aleppo, or the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, or the Crusader castle, Krak des Chevaliers also in Syria, I count myself among the truly fortunate.
I think it is maybe a good thing that we can’t see into the future. Would the person I was ten years ago had the courage to visit these places, armed with just a map and a couple of days hotel reservation? She was a pretty conservative person, when I think back. but she grew with each new experience.
Life is the most incredible gift, whether you travel afar, or stay close to home. With eyes wide open, I am learning to grasp eagerly at each new experience, and see the wonder of it all.
Wow! That shy girl from Keeler Saskatchewan has an interesting life. So much to be thankful for!