For myself, experiencing the daily life of today’s diverse cultures and witnessing the antiquities of past cultures, traversing through and exploring unique and wondrous natural landscapes and being exposed to unscheduled and impact events is what drives my passion for international travel. Yes, travel has risks, especially with younger children. However, I feel risks are inherent in everything we do and as a parent part of my job description is to provide my children with appropriate tools to make wise, difficult decisions based on risk and reward. International travel provides these difficult assessments daily and provides numerous opportunities for my children to grow confidently in their decisions making and physical and social abilities. Additionally, pulling my children out of our Middle American culture for a year, I feel, can only be beneficial in providing a different view of how a vast majority of the world interacts socially without the distractions of television, electronics, unrelenting sports schedules and dual income households.
I would like to share two travel related events, which changed my life. These life altering experiences, which I could experience in everyday life Eugene, if I looked hard enough, for some reason become more poignant and obvious during prolonged travel. For the third straight day I am sitting on a beach on the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand attempting to photograph a vibrant sunset, complete with a limestone outcrop and a long boat motoring through this surreal scene. Finally, the photo, which hangs proudly on our living room wall, I have been waiting for emerges and I shoot the picture. I sit there, not thinking of the reward of the picture or the time and energy involved, but thinking I wish I was able to share this incredibly, beautiful moment with someone I love. Now, I rewind my thoughts to a sobering night, during my first extensive international excursion in the winter of 1985, in the village of Todos Santos, Guatemala. I'm listening, through an interpreter, with tears in my eyes, the story of an eleven year old boy explaining the scene of watching both of his parents being executed in front of his home. Prior to this event I knew nothing about the real life impacts of American Foreign Policy. These two events shaped my beliefs, educational and personal pursuits for many years.
Also, Peter and Paul are growing up fast and starting to spread their own wings. Time with my children is precious and becoming more limited as they grow up. Peter will be thirteen years old on this trip, only 5 years away from going to college. This is mind-blowing to think about and solidifies my desire to spend as much time as I can with my children.
Then there is my relationship with Therese. My first romantic letters to Therese were visions of the two of us walking on tropical beaches, snorkeling, spreading suntan lotion on each other and ... With chaotic schedules, work deadlines and growing children, these romantic encounters and meaningful time together tend to become less frequent. This trip is not just about romantic encounters, but about being together and really getting to know each other more.
Lastly, I love being in the natural environment. I look forward to seeing a sloth in the rainforest of Costa Rica, picking leeches off my legs in Taman Negara, Malaysia, riding through the Serengeti plains, observing Orangutans in Sumatra, snorkeling off the island of Zanzibar, the chaos of Bangkok, exploring the ruins of Tikal and holding Therese's hand as we watch the sunset on Koh Phangan.