Photo: Bishop Laurent Mbanda; his wife Chantal Mbanda; very successful businesswoman and me in Rwanda during his installation celebration
When I give myself time to travel to ‘far away’ places around the globe, I rest and observe and learn. It is my time to research and to be at peace.
No matter how hectic it is to operate in other countries via lacking infrastructure and free media offerings, I find the experiences along the Rio Dulce River in central America or rugged bus ride between Musanze and Kigali, Rwanda in Africa, far outweigh my so-called inconveniences. No surprise here: U.S. folk are spoiled and do not fully appreciate how good we have it with modern roads and emergency services.
In other countries, I am not quite as confident about my surroundings, its people and decisions I make to carry on with my day. I love that. Being “off” a bit is refreshing as I am out of the comfort zone and open to hearing and seeing things that I otherwise would not do in my comfortable surroundings known as the United States. I bring those things back home and I wear my life with more knowledge, grace, gratefulness and dignity.
In other countries, I easily meet people. They keep me safe and energized. They are not as rude, abrupt, entitled and whiny as U.S. tourists.
In other countries, I am respected and not under surveillance. In the U.S., I am still followed in retail stores and often questioned by strangers about the most trivial things such as my height, career, knowledge, awards and relationships. Whether in Canada or Bangkok, the interactions are straight-forward and with appreciation for sharing time with an “American.”
In other countries, I am not afraid to risk “safe” things like trying new foods. I love avocado pudding, which was first introduced to me at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. However, scorpion delicacies as enjoyed by the Malaysian folk on a recent airplane trip, are not among my favorite foods.
In other countries, I see truth and dispel all of the general myths that others have of certain geographical areas. In Africa, there are so many natural beauties such as the wisest minds, beautiful beaches, healthy foods, fabulous dwellings and smartest global investments. In Vietnam, there is a country of people who are overcomers. The country has amazing, natural beauty. It’s quite a turnaround from the country once devastated by the too-long Vietnam War.
In other countries, I experience a sincere appreciation for education. In Guanacaste, Costa Rica, the elementary through high school children brave heavy rains and scorching heat as they travel up and down narrow trails to reach one-room school houses that are typically in one room and are naturally cooled. Yet, their zest for learning and even laughter by the littlest ones of my awkward Spanish that they are happy to correct in its context, are the warmest moments in my life.
In this country, I travel with former students, friends and family through their personal journeys. Although, my U.S.-based travels with the aforementioned require my time, listening, some advice and patience, the visits are equally exhilarating and worthy as my airport and boat travel with my passport.
As a humorist, I find the “happy” and laughter in everything including the Malaysian airline flight attendants who warned us just ahead of spraying the airplane that if we “didn’t like it … cover your face.” That was their way of cleaning the air just prior to landing. My dead stop in the middle of a Kowloon, Hong Kong street and being overrun by a dirty looks and grunts from a bunch of natives, was mind-blowing as the Chinese believe in ‘keeping it moving’ along its crowded streets.
All of my travels add joy and interest to my short visit on this planet. For that, I am grateful. Join me.
Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annlineve