Archive for Travel

Travel is Like Chocolate Mousse…

It might have been Treasure Island or Mutiny on the Bounty that sparked my interest, but islands have always exerted a magnetic pull on me. Small. Romantic. Isolated. Surrounded by water. Their attraction is galvanic.

I first heard about the Balearic Islands when I was in college.  Dots in the Mediterranean Sea, ruled successively by Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Moors, and Catalans. Spain, but not quite Spanish – Mallorquin. Exotic.

The archipelago has four major islands – Mallorca, the largest, with Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera in descending order. My first visit was to Formentera a few years before its first hotel was built. Then, a windless sailing trip took me to Ibiza, the party island, where we repaired the blown engine that left us becalmed in Mediterranean shipping lanes at night. Mallorca was last in the sequence but not least in its appeal. read more

You Can’t Beat Haydn…

Once upon a time, in what seems like a galaxy faraway, I was living the perfect life. Perfect wife. Three perfect children. East Coast boarding schools. A mountain house near Sun Valley. A large manicured lawn. My own tennis court. A large clear-redwood deck. Flying for Pan Am. Commuting to Europe. A month on.  A month off. Berlin-based. In and out of European capitals. A classic high-ceilinged Alt-Bau apartment on the edge of the Grunewald. Training for marathons.

And then one day the perfect life ended… I came down with a neuromuscular disease. Symptoms included double vision, drooping eyelids, legs too weak to climb into a van, and jaw muscles too weak to bite into an apple. Then my sick pay ran out, income went to half, Pan Am went bankrupt, income went to zero, and I lost most of my pension. read more

Some of it’s Magic…

Yes, today’s the day, and I’ve been getting happy birthday emails, text messages, phone calls and cards from all over the world. I’m grateful to have shared time with so many interesting people over the years. We’ve enjoyed books, music, good food, long runs, wooded walks, powder turns, bike trips, sunny beaches, funny stories, and much, much more over the years. It feels great to have such good friends and memories.

I’m happy to be alive and well, even though the world is a mess and smart people who should know better are bickering over insignificant things while the planet is melting down, burning up, and blowing away under the pressure of climate change, Covid-19 is ravaging its population, billionaires are flaunting their wealth in space, grinding poverty is endemic, and there are tribal wars, insurrectionists, and racists in mainstream politics. In 2016 I characterized myself as an optimist. Today, I’m less sure. I worry for for my children and grandchildren. What kind of a world will they have? read more

The Wisdom of Ishi…

In 2013, M and I were living in Saigon when we were introduced to Ishi, a visiting writer from Kanagawa, Japan. Our friend, Akiko Yabuki, found Ishi lounging on a beach four years earlier. Since then, the two of them and Aki’s husband George have traveled extensively. Today the three of them and their 5 year-old daughter, Emi, live near the center of the hipster universe in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with their Labrador retriever, Pono.

In 2014 we were thrilled to have Aki, George, and Ishi visit us in Seattle. We cooked dinner, all in agreement that sharing food with friends (or enemies) is the way to the heart and an avenue toward peace. I made pasta, which Ishi found restful… even soporific. read more

Leaving the Comfort Zone…

The A/C and ceiling fan at 95D Nguyen Van Thu Street are white noise and always there, but the clock alarm’s frequency is different and pulls me back from a deep slumber. I hit snooze and wrap the sheet tighter, hoping to catch another minute of sleep. The oppressive heat of the Saigon night has diminished. At 5:15 a.m. the street outside is quiet except for an occasional motorbike.

I peel back the covers and sit on the edge of the bed. The walls are sweating and there’s a faint hint of mold. Heavy condensation on the front window makes the streetlight a yellowish blur. I step onto the cool tile floor, turn on the computer and link to the Seattle NPR station. There are tornados in Oklahoma, floods in Texas. In Seattle, it’s the usual November rain. read more