Inspiration for the Journey
Noma Nazish writes in Forbes, “Five Reasons Why Travel Is Good for Your Mental Health,“ “reduce stress, reinvent yourself, happiness and satisfaction, mental resilience, and to enhance creativity.” All true! I enjoy writing about people, events, food, activities, landscapes, ecology, and the history of the places I visit. I strive to illuminate people and businesses positively. The subjects of my writing are as diverse as my travels. There is so much to write about, far away and right here at home in South Carolina. My family served as my inspiration for my journey, and my education fueled it.
I’ve learned not to force the topics; they have to come naturally. According to Karen Petit, gifted writer of children’s books, “it’s my muse, the person or force that is the source of my inspiration.” That’s where the topics originate.
The more you write, the more your muse talks! Even your muse gives you inspiration for the journey!
So far, I’ve visited over 35 countries, 20 since I retired in 2015. I have many more places on my schedule and many more stories to come! There are difficulties in traveling, that’s true. I call it the administrivia of getting there. That’s especially true post-Covid-19. There are unforeseen disruptions, but the problems are part of the journey and learning.
My love of travel started when I was a child. Every year, my hardworking parents took us to the beaches from the shores of South Carolina and Florida to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
After my first year of college, my parents sacrificed to send me to summer school in Europe. My history professor at Lander University, Dr. Joel Cleland, led the group. Accompanied by his wife Abbey and two small children, he took a small group of students from Lander to Dijon, France, for summer school.
I loved that about Lander, always eager to provide students’ firsthand experiences. The professors there made every student feel special. I could not have gotten a better education or experience.
We headed Université de Bourgogne’s Centre International d’Etudes Françaises (CIEF) in Dijon, France (CIEF) (University of Burgundy) “Students at all proficiency levels, from all over the world are invited to immerse themselves in French language classes.” I sat in a classroom with students from Iran, Morocco, and many other places. It’s an understatement to say how illuminating this experience was for an 18-year-old girl from Ninety Six, S.C. In addition to the French class taught by a professor at the University of Burgundy, Dr. Cleland taught a history class that required our impressions as we traveled.
He would be surprised to know that I’m writing now. It had to be torture to read my writing then.
While we were in Europe, we traveled to England, Germany, and Switzerland. I still believe today that it’s better to take the time to see more once you’re on a trip. The whole experience changed my life. It introduced the world to me, and I was hooked. It gave me inspiration for the journey.
I’m indebted to my parents, Margaret and James Alexander, for that extraordinary experience and much more.
My Sister and Brother-in-Law, Elaine and Paul Gentry inspired my love for adventure travel. They allowed me to tag along on action-packed adventures. I remember hiking on the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and canoeing some of South Carolina’s beautiful rivers with them. And it’s because of them I got certified as a scuba diver. Paul wrote in his journal, “Marie had a fit when she found out we were taking scuba lessons and had to do it too!”
I hope they forgive me for interrupting their lives at every turn!
I’m indebted to my sister Elaine and brother-in-law Paul for my love of adventure.
We went on fantastic scuba trips to the Devil’s Eye Spring System, Jinnie Springs, and Blue Hole, part of Florida’s Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Florida. I was certified for basic scuba in these beautiful springs under the National Association of Scuba Diving Schools (NASDS), now merged with Scuba Schools International. Later at Lake Jocassee in South Carolina, I did an open-water night dive for the advanced scuba diving certificate. Whew, doing the test in mountainous underwater terrain at night was pretty nerve-racking!
More trips included the Bahamas aboard a small liveaboard dive boat called the Impossible Dream. This was back in the ’70s when you seldom saw anyone out there. After I got up enough nerve to let go of the dinghy and descend to the bottom, I did a night dive. I have a vivid memory of seeing a moray eel that night. There are many stories from that trip!
My brother, Jimmy Alexander, loved adventure too. He taught me how to water ski and ride a motorcycle.
He gave me exciting pets, a boa constrictor and a squirrel monkey named Sheila, with a baby named Squeaky. There must have been a competition for the exotic between my brother and sister because she and Paul had reptiles and other creatures such as iguanas, snakes, monkeys, etc. School kids tour their homes to see. I’m so grateful to my somewhat quirky family for giving me so much. They gave me a sense of wonder and inspiration for the journey.