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The Blogger Relay – My Top Three Travel Memories

I’ve heard it said that travel changes lives but I didn’t believe it applied to me until I had to choose My Three Favorite Travel Memories.

I realized that each trip has altered my life in significant and not-so significant ways. Most importantly, traveling has made me more appreciative of what I have, and also expanded my circle of friends. Traveling for me is both therapy and education – it’s my antidote to boredom and malaise.

I have so many favorite memories of my travels, it was very difficult to narrow it down to my top three. Hopefully, you’ll see why I decided on these.

This post is part of The Blogger Relay that is sponsored by LowCostHolidays. The goal is to keep this chain of stories going and the team with the longest chain of travel stories by September 28th wins.

Bronze – Mérida

Mérida was my first trip abroad. I had spent the year before I started university teaching basic and intermediate Spanish to 10 and 11 year olds. When we heard about a one-week immersion program in Mérida that was organized by the Ministry of Education, another Spanish teacher and I decided to participate. in a one-week Spanish immersion program in Mérida and became chaperones for three of our students.

All the arrangements were made through a travel agency contracted by the Ministry of Education and we turned over newly minted passports so they could obtain our visas and tickets and arrange our accommodation.

But when we made the 4-hour drive back to Kingston for our appointment to get our documents, we learned that our passports had been destroyed in a fire at the agency. No one had bothered to alert us and there was no way for us to get new passports and visas in time to leave with the rest of the group. We wouldn’t be going to Mérida. We returned home feeling disappointed and defeated. But that was not the end of this story.

A few weeks later, the travel gods smiled and with new documents in hand, we were on a direct flight to Mérida. Since we had missed the immersion, we were free to do whatever we wanted to do.

The first thing I noticed was how different the Spanish in Mérida was. It sounded like an entirely different language than what I’d been studying since primary school. I could pick out one or two words but the rest sailed right over my head.

At the market the day after we arrived, I met Mario and his friend, Belgio. Between my version of Spanish and his limited English, I agreed to go with them to the beach at Progreso.  (I wouldn’t have done that now!)

We spent a great afternoon swimming, and exchanged phone numbers when they took me back at the hotel. If you think trying to understand a language when you’re face to face with someone is hard, try doing the same thing on the phone. But there’s no mistaking Belgio when he called later that evening and declared, “Te amo. Te adoro.”

‘I love you’ in any language gets your attention. Said in Spanish with Belgio’s intensity and passion, it was a bit romantic. But I couldn’t stop giggling. I was a cynic even then. But what did I really know about matters of the heart at that age?

Continue reading “The Blogger Relay – My Top Three Travel Memories”

Barcelona 1977

I blame Mrs. Anderson, my high school Spanish teacher, who planted the idea in my head. She had studied in Spain and brought back fascinating stories that she shared in class.

Paseo de Gracia corner Mallorca, March 1977

So when I discovered that my university had a semester abroad program, I signed up right away. Three months in Spain? I knew there would be adventure ahead.

Our group of about 15 arrived in Barcelona on January 5th. My friend Gloria and I were selected to stay with the Rodriguez family, a busy household with boarders from Southern Spain.

(I still remember how Sra. Rodriguez would go food shopping everyday — and I thought my grandmother was just disorganized — and how Sr. Rodriguez would call us to the table, “Al ataque!” basically, Come and get it!)

I fell in love with Barcelona. It appealed to me on several levels: the food, the architecture, the wines, museums, the cathedrals, the Ramblas, and it was difficult for me to leave.

Each week, we visited a different museum, and every other week, we traveled to a different city. Weekends were free so we spent the time exploring Barcelona on our own. I still have very fond memories of these places:

When I look back now, I’m surprised by how few photos I took and how grainy they are. Had I done that trip today, I would have had thousands of photos, everything I saw would have been documented. But I have very good memories and I hope someday to return to Barcelona to see how much of what I remember remains.

Ciudadela Park, 1977

I often wonder what happened to the other students on that trip. We were all at different stages on the road to graduation and didn’t have the same classes. Gloria and I did and we still keep in touch.

I don’t think I ever thanked Mrs. Anderson for putting the bug in my ear, or Prof. Lopez-Saiz for facilitating such a wonderful program. (I always said I wanted a job like his: half year in Spain, half year in Canada – the best of both worlds.)

I lived a lot, learned a lot and loved a lot in Barcelona. After those three months, I promised myself to do a few things the next time I travelled:




  • Stay off the beaten path
  • Learn the language (or at least learn to say hello, good morning, thank you, etc.)
  • Talk to the people
  • Always take 3-month vacations (Ha!)

What lessons have you learned from your travel experiences?

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