So I just finished the book Affluenza all about our culture's preoccupation with money and possessions. Right now I must confess I am afflicted with travelenza, my preoccupation with how we are going to possibly travel to all the places we want to go over the next 2 years and how we will afford to do that.
It's a good thing that we ended up in Morocco instead of Senegal for so many reasons. But especially from a travel standpoint it's fantastic. It's just a ferry ride over to Europe, but we're still in Africa. It's a bigger tourist destination so we can catch flights out of several airports in Morocco and compare prices, travel times etc. rather than having to take a 20 hour camel trek to our nearest, dearest and only airport. In other words, we have alot of travel options because of our geographic location. We didn't particularly move to Africa to see Europe, we did alot of Europe when we lived in Germany. And don't get me wrong we LOVE Europe, we just thought we'd travel to lots of countries within Africa. What we didn't know when we moved here is travel within Africa is extremely expensive. And what we have also learned since moving here is lots of African travel destinations are not good summer destinations. Egypt, Rwanda and the Moroccan sand dunes are being shelved for cooler weather. So for now we can head to those European destinations that we haven't made it to. And I have to say living in rustic Africa makes travelling to elegant Europe an even sweeter experience. I didn't even know that was possible!
We're lucky that this is our second time living overseas. When we lived in Germany the kids were much younger which had great benefits: no school schedule to plan around and not having to pay for airline tickets for your kids under the age of 2. The flip side to that is that our kids don't remember alot of the travelling we did. And we did a ton. So now that we will (as of this school year) have 4 kids in school this academic year, we are bound (and gagged) by the school schedule. (And NO, I will not consider home schooling the kids to alleviate this travel obstacle.) Also, we now of course have 6 airline tickets to pay for, 6 dinners (and if you had any idea how much my kids eat, especially Jade you would be sympathetic to this plight). But the benefits are huge. Our kids now notice everything. They question everything. They comment on everything. And by everything....I really mean EVERYTHING. Lots of times you want nothing more than for them not to be quite so culturally inquisitive because it's absolutely exhausting, especially x 4! Even though it feels like a chore sometimes to satiate their curiosity, this really is why we're living abroad is to enrich their lives in this way. We have had more conversations about Islam, politics, poverty, snot rockets, food stamps, Christianity, Americanisms, nutrition, security, health, wants vs. needs than they would get in any social studies class anywhere! (Especially the snot rockets. Mr. Pachute never covered that in 7th grade social studies. I would have paid alot more attention if he did.) And you know what? Going between Europe and Africa really drives the contrasts home. Women go to the beach topless in Spain, but are swimming in the ocean covered head to toe in Morocco. Church bells and Sunday mass in Europe and the call to prayer and Fridays at mosque in North Africa. Democracy vs. monarchy....the list goes on and on.
Okay I don't mean to make this sound like this is a completely selfless endeavor, like I'm the love child of Anthony Bourdain and Mother Theresa or anything. I most certainly am not. If I was I would home school them, have infinite patience and wisdom, a lot more perspective, a book deal, TV show and a pack a day habit. The truth is I LOVE to travel! Love it! Love it! Love it! I have learned far more traveling than I did in grad school ( though I wouldn't tell my professors or children that). I could have saved thousands of dollars bypassing my post graduate education and joining the Peace Corps and moving to Haiti. I was young, driven and academic at the time. What the hell did I know? I definitely didn't know that travel would be the thing to have the biggest influence on my life. Not only would I meet my husband on a trip to Holland, but it would ultimately bring 4 children from across the world to me and make me their mother. Big life changing stuff. And even though those 4 kids bombard me with millions of questions on how the world works, I wouldn't have it any other way (except on the days that I'd love to send them to your house so you can explain Ramadan to them). I hope that they already know that the world connects people from distant lands and makes them friends and that love makes them family. If they don't know it now I'm pretty sure they are going to understand it in two years time. Until then and our return to our Colorado family we're gonna basque in the Travelenza.