Mandalay at Dawn
I was once asked why do I love to travel. My answer was quite direct: I travel because I have to.
I travel, not so much to be inspired, but to explore cultures and feel nature's overpowering scale. I feel at home in foreign environments, absorbing what does not exist in my daily life. The landscapes help me to dream and often my travels are driven from the pages I read.
My favorite subject while in school in France was geography, I would stare at my globe and dreamed of foreign lands while my friends would play with their Barbie dolls...and I read, I devoured Jules Verne stories, read the great russian classics, dreaming of white russian landscapes, discovered Italy through Stendhal, my mind travelled through Burma with Georges Orwell and... I discovered Marc Twain.
From that day on, I knew I would end up in America.
His powerful sentence..."travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness" marked me for ever, and by these standards I brought up my children. Growing up in France, in catholic school, one does not develop very broad horizon and my friends' way of thinking, expectations of life, almost archaic cast system in Bourgeois society were stifling. My parents always encouraged me to be myself and were the support that enabled me to break away from the standard mold. When I wanted to fly, my father brought me to our small local airport, I was only 15 and he said...go for it, and I learned how to fly, alone in my plane I felt an amazing sense of being alive, free to take my life in any direction I wanted. And I did.
Through travel, I feel that I succeeded in at least one thing with my children, they are not afraid of life, of taking risks, they are amazingly generous young men, their friends come from all walks of life and they hold no judgements. As a working mother, I often talk to them and ask if they missed out on their childhood by having both parents away during the day. Their answers are always positive, and in listening to them, our travels have been an amazing part of who they are, a part they hold on to and relish.
Re-reading George Orwell while cruising the mighty Irrawaddy river, Luke and the boys for an early sunrise. We were profoundly touched by this country, land of gentle people caught in a brutal regime
In Borneo, my children learned how to cope with nature, understand the fragility of natural rainforest in the hands of men and greed, and came to love Orangutans. Climbing the ironwood trunk ladder to spend the night with a Dayak family. An impromptu visit after reading Paul Theroux.
I love being surrounded by younger people, my advise to them...go out in the world, explore, start with your own neighborhood and open your eyes, you will be amazed how much you have missed.