“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
Travel has loomed large in my life. As a child, I counted myself lucky that my parents traveled, and they also had the energy and courage to go on vacations with their five children. We went on annual ski trips to Michigan and Colorado. We visited Cozumel, Mexico and Puerto Rico. We visited relatives in Lynn, MA. We were an on the go family.
Throughout the ’90’s, I had my own speaking and training business, and I traveled extensively for work. That was fun in the beginning but I grew weary of living on the road. I also grew weary of the business itself. I was an expert on workplace sexual harassment and did training seminars in how to prevent it. People referred to me as the “harassment lady,” and I listened ad nauseam to people’s opinions on the topic. I needed a change of venue.
The solution to my discontent was to travel around the world by myself for a year. It was a big journey. I spent 6 months preparing for it while my business slowly shut down. From December 1, 1999 to November 22 of 2000, I was out in the world traveling. My Mom was concerned for my safety and swore she would never forgive me for making her worry for a year. My sister told me I’d owe her for a long time because she would be listening to my Mom’s worrying. We said our “good-byes” and I disappeared onto the plane. My sister reported to me that not five minutes went by when my parents were arguing about a car that was on display in the airport. Life resumes. Funny!
Thank goodness, internet cafes were everywhere so I communicated regularly via email to family and friends which eased my mom’s worry. I wrote travelogues along the way sharing my experiences with an email list of 50 friends. The email account is long gone but some friends printed them out and gave them to me when I returned. Here, I have transcribed the travelogues and included notes when things needed an explanation, live links where possible, my photos and images from the “commons” if it helped tell the story.
On November 22, 2000, the plane landed in Dayton, Ohio. The journey around the world was over, and my new life was just beginning. While volunteering at a work camp in the tiny village of Chanay, France, I met, fell in love with and later married, Jean Luc Black, a local French man. In January 2001, I got back on a plane to France and began anew.
The decision to travel around the world, to set off on what I thought was an epic journey, changed my life in profound ways. After living in Chanay for 8 years, I felt compelled with every cell in my body to come home to the United States.
Inspired by the Barack Obama hope machine, in January of 2009, I repatriated to Cincinnati, alone. I’ve been rebuilding my well documented life and am ready to integrate and make sense of my travel experiences and the time I spent in France. In the Travel section of my blog, I will write about the practical aspects of planning a year long trip; I will revisit past places and write about new travel experiences.