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Where could I be

by Jan Wheatrcroft

The thought of traveling again brings back so many memories. Many were stimulated when I was going through a box of photographs both from my childhood and the life my children and I had on Samos Island in Greece.

  I would love to return to Greece again as it holds so much richness and pleasure in my heart. However, I know what was real and wonderful about the Greece I knew no longer exists in the way that I knew it. That is not just because most of the people I knew and interacted with are no longer with us, but also because the simple way of life I lived no longer exists. 

The people on the island and in our village lived a more contained life that wasn’t  based on tourism. All that has changed now, and most probably over much of Greece as well. So I find memories are to be treasured. They teach us so much about ourselves, and help direct us on our paths into the future as well as to make the best choices for the life ahead.

Last night my two sons visited for dinner. It was just the three of us eating a requested menu of favorite childhood meals of our past. I gave them many of the photographs I had found from our time on the island. I listened as they told stories about their adventures, their friends, what they remembered of their lives in Greece, and how living and going to school there affected them. It was past, it was gone and yet it came alive again through their memories and stories. It was good to hear and think about. 

My life has been divided into different travel periods: My early experiences of group travel; the year in Israel and Nigeria by myself; the years of living on a Greek island with my boys; the nine years of spending summers in a personal development center of the island of Skyros; and then the 12 or 15 years of travel with my friend, Frances to various exotic places around the world. 

For those special years I have made many travel journals that describe my thoughts and feelings, show the meals I ate, people I met, and all with photos and drawings to enhance the experiences. I am glad I have those 10 books to bring back the memories of those adventures.

As I think about where I would like to visit in the world, I do not choose places new to me and ones I have not yet visited. Rather, I think of places I have enjoyed so much but would see differently now, as I am older, and life has changed over the years. I would love to go back to India.

India is a hot country in my mind and not just in terms of temperature, but in color and sensuality. There is so much variety from one area to the next, so many surprises yet to be discovered, and so much richness in the arts and crafts, food and spiritualism. So yes, India calls me back.

I would also like to visit Japan again and again. There is much respect for the arts and artisans there, and so much care and imagination given to tradition and traditional crafts. The highly specialized cooking, imagination and care given to the beautiful preparation of fresh food has made a meal so much more than filling my mouth and stomach.

I am entranced by the way so many aspects of life are approached there, the dyeing of cloth, the arrangement of plants and flowers, the preparation of tea, the designing of a kimono or the arrangement of a stay in a traditional inn. I would like to be able to explore different small villages and enjoy life in the more remote areas of the country.

Of course I always want to return to both England and Sweden, where I have dear friends who have enriched my life and continue to lead their own interesting lives pursuing their dreams and pleasures. 

There are also some places in the United States that I would like to travel to and/or revisit. Portland, Oregon is one city that I found very stimulating and rich in food exploration and arts and crafts, and also a place with one of the biggest and best bookstores ever, Powell’s Books.

New Mexico has a number of towns and cities with great histories and a fine respect for the arts of Native Americans and people living in the region. Although Santa Fe is a nifty city, my heart draws me to Taos, a smaller enclave but no less rich in the arts and beauty of the area.

Maybe just the pleasure of driving to see what I find and to enjoy the surprise of discovery would make the journey more of an adventure. I may discover just how much I am impressed by what I uncover, and how much I am unaware of all I do not know.

This year I am trying to find the strength I lost over the past few years. I am learning just how much daily movement is necessary in that process. Fear and laziness have held me back from being active. They have slowed down any progress I could have made, and now I have to fight to build up the strength so that I can travel and be independent once again.

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