As we all get used to our new normal and focus on family, friends, neighbors and staying healthy, it seems the world has been grounded...literally in the case of airlines. Teens stuck in the home with parents must feel like it's the worst grounding ever, and a punishment certainly not deserved. But I also think it's helping us stay "grounded" in the best sense of the word. We're discovering what really matters to us and our core values may have shifted for the better forever by the time it's over.
Our Personal Top 5 Trips for Connecting
1. Africa - November 2019
Somewhat fittingly our trip to Africa just last November was also our favorite travel experience ever. The photo above was taken in Cape Town towards the end of a full-day city tour. We enjoyed street food specialties including such tasty morsels as malva pudding (English translation = treacle sponge. USA translation I'm still working on), and biltong, a wonderful dried cured beef which I have to say I prefer to beef jerky as it is not as tough to chew. The local chef who joined us also had the funkiest handshake au revoir ever which Helen picked up far faster than the rest of us.
2. Thailand - July 2009
I took a 6 week sabbatical from work in the summer of 2009 and as a family we toured SE Asia. There were experiences, sights, sounds, smells and tastes that stick in our collective minds to this day, but probably the deepest memory for all of us was our visit to a school (above), some 30 miles outside of Bangkok. Maisie was struck that everyone had the same haircut and James remembers being slightly uncomfortable as the center of attention. We all remember the smiles on the pupils faces and that their English was remarkably good.
3. Paris - June 2017
We should have been on a Uniworld river cruise out of Paris at this very moment but for obvious reasons, we are left to reminisce instead. We took the photo above on the famous Pont des Arts and it reminds us of our own connections throughout the world and how important it is to have love in your life. The "Love Lock" bridge has since had most locks removed due to the weight damaging the structure, but the sentiment will live forever.
4. Portugal - also June 2017
We met Jorge (above), the chef-owner of Momentos in Evora, Portugal on a quiet lunchtime visit to his restaurant. Well at least we thought it was going to be quiet when we walked in. This guy could talk, and I've possibly never met anyone so enthused about his local suppliers and produce. Jorge enthralled us with his love of the bounty of the Alentejo region, which he showcases each night on his changing blackboard menus. He works with small farmers, and just for us this particular lunchtime he insisted on letting us taste flavor-packed organic vegetables accompanied by black pork, oven-baked lamb and other delicacies.
5. Peru - July 2018 (above and below)
As a trip for pure connection, Peru probably wins out. Our group of travel advisors, partners, and a few friends thrown in for good measure, enjoyed a wonderful bonding experience while traveling through Peru that I'm sure will stay with us all forever, and Machu Picchu was just one of many highlights.
To combine such an amazing journey with friends was so special and I also learned that it is OK to bond with an alpaca. I still correspond with the dude in the photo to this day.
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