I am not a shopper. But when I travel, I love shopping — not at Zara or Desigual — but at local markets, where members of the community sell what they grow or make. Every market visit is an education in local culture and every market is a place to feel connected to the local community. People are happy — or at least hopeful. And that kind of shopping doesn’t require you to buy anything to make you feel good.
It has been more than two years since I first arrived on the Greek island of Lesvos where overloaded boats brought refugees to the island’s windy beaches. The people in the boats were mostly young and many were children — wet, cold and hungry, escaping war and persecution in their home countries. Continue reading
“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”
— Paul Tillich, German Philosopher
For most of the past three years, I have traveled the world on my own and, yes, some days I wake up dreading another day alone. I am a social person. I miss my family and friends at home, and I love traveling as a team. So why do I keep traveling the world alone?
I love taking photographs when I travel, but I am selective about it because cameras can make you an outsider, an observer instead of a participant. One thing I like about having a camera is that, even if I don’t use it, I pay a little more attention to the details.
In traditional cultures, where you live is a big part of who you are. Many Americans, on the other hand, tend to view our communities as way stations to somewhere else. Most of us leave home at an early age and don’t return to raise our kids in the communities where we grew up. As we age, many of us move again for economic reasons or to be with the grandchildren our children are raising somewhere else. Continue reading
Like most parents of active boys, I got a few phone calls from school over the years. Remembering them, I usually laugh. He stole a potato chip from Emily! But one of them still turns my stomach. When I was at work one day, the principal of Gabe’s school called to say Gabe had been “acting up” all week whenever his teacher read aloud to the class. This wasn’t Gabe’s usual venue for mischief so after a few minutes on the phone I asked what book the teacher was reading.
When I was in Greece this year, a well-intended young Greek woman told me that my adopted Muslim daughter, Nahid, should not wear a hijab if she wants to be accepted in Greece. I guess I wasn’t surprised at her comment but it gave me something to think about. Continue reading
Every year, the Berkeley-based non-profit, Ethical Traveler, announces its Top Ten most ethical places to travel in the developing world. This year, the winners include Uruguay, Micronesia, and Mongolia. http://ethicaltraveler.org/ The goal of Ethical Traveler is “to use the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment.” Its Top Ten countries get high marks for these attributes and it encourages us to visit them for that reason.
Wow, I am down with using travel to protect human rights and the environment. But I am not convinced the best way to do that is to go to the places that have good human rights and environmental records.