Going Abroad

Most of the people I know or have known are essentially home bodies, having never explored or traveled except to a neighboring city or state to visit relatives with the exception of a trip to Disney World or Vegas.

I am reminded of a friend of mine, Juan, who once stated emphatically “that he worked 70 or 80 hours a week and he could barely afford to drive to San Antonio” chiding me as I related the events of my latest vacation. He queried me as to how I could afford to travel abroad and I laughed. I simply stated “that I charged it.”

What! Well yea! I told him I only went abroad every other year so I had two years to pay off the previous vacation before deciding where to go for my next. It is sort of like couples waiting until they can afford to have a baby to have one, which never happens, so you take the plunge and figure out the details later.

When I turned eighteen, I joined the US Navy Reserves to avoid being inducted (drafted) into the army. I left my hometown for a whole new world of mind-boggling experiences. I was a country bumpkin (rube) and had never been on an airplane or been farther than the adjoining State of Alabama. To be brief I saw the world or most of it. The Pacific Theatre, the North Sea and the Mediterranean. I won’t mention all the ports of call because there are just too many. Later in life I went to work for Halliburton Energy and I saw a lot of places through my work. Basically anywhere there was a gas or oil well.

In my later years and after retirement I have vacationed just about everywhere so there is not much of the world I haven’t seen. Didn’t make it to Australia nor to the Himalayas or South Africa and not the southern part of South America but basically everywhere else.

Once you get that seed and it takes root, that fertile impetus, to seek, to explore, to just view the world, your feet will be forever restless and your mind curious to see what’s over the next horizon. It is an innate sense of adventure.

My oldest daughter is her father’s child. Her son has graduated high school and is off to serve his country in the Navy as I did. He then has college and a commission awaiting him after graduation. My daughter is now an empty nester so the prospects of teaching high school US Government and American History classes until she reaches 70 and retires is archaic or let’s say passé. She has shook the sand from her sandals and is sallying forth into her own adventure and all I can say is” You Go Girl” The whole world is your Apalachicola oyster and there are so many pearls out there to be seen ,tasted, smelled, and experienced.

My daughter has been accepted to teach English at an upscale school in New Cairo, Egypt which is part of the American University there in Egypt. Her salary will increase substantially and it will be income tax free, plus all of her living expenses are included: airfare to and from Egypt and they will even fly her dog to her after she gets settled in. Her food, apartment (condo), transportation, etc. are all fully funded by her employers. She will live in a compound with other ex-patriates (British, Australian, etc.) Security is provided and you have to acclimate to their customs of course, some of which are stern.

It is an adventure! We are already talking about maybe meeting her in Israel next Easter to spend the holiday in Bethlehem. There is always Greece or Italy just across the pond. I asked her how long she would be working there. She wasn’t sure but not forever because she said she would like to see the world and with experience maybe her next job would be in China or Brazil.

I wish to quote a maxim here, “The only regrets you will have in life are the risks you never took” My daughter has given away or donated all her furniture. Made her son store all his possessions and made all the arrangements and is stepping forth boldly and I am so proud of her. Homesickness is a reality and there will be periods of longing, to see family and friends and especially her son but she will discover that you can never go back in time, time is always moving forward.

Her son will be involved with school and the military. I am sure there is a girl and children in his future plus a career and the duties of adulthood. People grow older and some of them you will never see again. Homecomings are beautiful and farewells mistily sad but the adventures you relate, the new foods you have eaten and the faraway places pretty much fill the void. My daughter is very congenial and makes friends easily and she maintains those friendships for eternity it seems. I have no doubt as to her confidence in herself and her ability.

I have Nordic ancestry and I have always felt akin to the Vikings as they sailed into unknown seas in little more than a large row boats. They were brave and undaunted as they sought adventure, loot and trade. They were fierce warriors, even the women and not very keen on being told they couldn’t do something. Oceans, rivers, mountains, from Scandinavia to Iraq they sailed and explored the unknown. For those of us with those genes, that DNA that impels us to go and to see and seek that which we don’t know, I toast you, I celebrate you, and I envy you!

I will close with a poem as is usual. This poem is an old one that I have always liked, by James Elroy Flecker. It is a little long to put here but it is worth the read if you choose to. The following is but a fragment but the poem is beautiful. It is about the caravans on the Silk Road and the caravansaries. My daughter toured North Africa with me and would recall the Arab Bedouins where she got her hands tattooed with henna which is to outwardly expression by the Bedouin women of their devotion to God in that culture. Can you comprehend the adventure and memories of going abroad?

The Golden Road to Samarkand

Sweet to ride forth from the wells

Where shadows pass gigantic on the sand

And softly though the silence beat the bells

Along the golden road to Samarkand

We travel not for trafficking alone;

By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned

For lust of knowing what should not be known

We take the golden road to Samarkand

What shall we tell you? Tales, marvelous tales

Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest

Where nevermore the rose of sunset pales

And winds and shadows fall towards the west

We who with song beguile your pilgrimage

And swear that beauty lives though lilies die

We poets of the proud old lineage