Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Traveller's Tale

Just over six weeks ago, I left home on the West Coast of Canada with the intention of touring most of the coastal regions of North America. While it would be impossible to tour it all, I feel that I have seen so many places and met so many different people. I am grateful to have this opportunity to learn about other coastal communities.
Fall foliage inVermont

Travelling in a group situation is new to me and I have to admit that I was wary of "being herded" but a it seemed like "the only way to go." The Autumn Foliage Rails and Sails tour by Mayflower Tours was an amazing first experience of a motor coach tour. Each day we boarded a train or a boat to view the autumn  colours of New England. Many of our meals were included and our accommodation was comfortable. I learned that much of the population of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire share my Celtic and French heritage and I visited The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. Although many of my fellow travellers had little interest in the museum, a well-organized tour should provide a variety of experiences.
Between leaving the Mayflower group in Hyannis and boarding the ship in Québec City, my friend and I enjoyed a whirlwind trip to New City to see some shows and to listen to music. We saw the Motown Musical, an off-Broadway play, Me and Jezebel, and visited Avery Fisher Hall to listen to Beethoven's 9th Symphony with a specially commissioned companion piece. We were lucky to sit beside a 94 year old woman who had subscribed to season's tickets for 50 years. We were able to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art but we had no time to see the Guggenheim. Like Paris, there would never be enough time to experience all of New York! For me, cultural activities are an important part of the adventure.

Bonhomme, the mascot of la ville de Québec.
After bidding farewell to my first travelling partner, I boarded a plane at JFK airport to meet my second partner and to board a cruiseship. Twenty-eight days is a very long time to spend on a ship and I had never travelled with my second travelling companion. We had not booked many onshore excursions but had decided to find independent activities in the ports of call. This gave us the opportunity to choose activities based on our interests, the weather and our daily level of energy. As a traveller, I feel  safe and able to assess situations fairly well. I do not carry much money and only one credit card or ATM card at a time. Official tourist guides usually have photo identification and are authorized to be dockside.
Fashion Show
Ship days would be difficult for me if I were not a reader. I don't gamble, play cards or sunbathe. I did play trivia, see some musical shows and attend a couple cooking classes and a digital camera workshop.
My friend and I played dress-up  at a jewellery fashion show. I am wearing a chocolate diamond butterfly necklace and a citrine ring valued at over $10,000. We went to the dining room only a couple of times because one of my personal goals right now is to pay attention to portion size. Restaurant portions tend to be too generous for my appetite.
Transitting the Panama Canal
It has been an adventure to visit so many different places although each port day lasts only a few hours. I have visited jungles, mangroves, colonial cities, Hemingway's house at Key West, Nicaragua (for the first time) and the list continues. I have experienced a government shutdown, friendly people, greedy people and a lot of helpful people. I marvel at the economic role that tourism plays in much of the world. Even in developed countries like Canada and the United States, many maritime communities depend on tourism. Leaf-watchers and cruise ship travellers contribute greatly to these economies. Onboard ship, we talked to a lot of the Filipino and Indonesian staff who work long shifts to send money home to their families. The staff were always friendly and respectful and there were times when I wished that I had heard more "pleases" and "thank-yous" from my fellow travellers. Judgement or non-judgement is another of my personal issues.

I am now in another phase of my adventure with my third companion. Monsieur, who drove our car down to meet me in San Diego, and I are by ourselves in the desert outside of Tucson.
Desert house
We are staying in a  casita that I found on the internet. It is the guest house on the property of a house designed by Alex Riley, an influential American architect. The house was his own residence in Tucson. We are renting the guesthouse ($47 a night) but there are no tenants currently in the main house.  Tucson is about a 20 minute drive away and we have books, Internet, a hot tub and a desert to explore.

I have been reading my small group discussion topics throughout my travels and the theme that has been important for the fall  (besides non-judgement and forgiveness) has been gratitude. I feel grateful to be able to have the time and resources to explore the world in my 7th decade and to have so many different people to accompany me on my travels.


1 comment:

  1. What an adventure! It sounds like a wonderful experience,

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