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Travel with Nana

Editorial: Carol Kiecher, a blogger I regularly follow, abandoned her travels in Mozambique a short while ago and returned home to the United States early. This was a surprise (and of some concern) as she is an intrepid traveller, having visited more than 70 countries, and one who usually travels on her own, staying in youth hostels. She’s also 79 years of age. She was worried about falling, which, she writes, “would be a disaster”.

The infrastructure in Mozambique, it seems, was a bit lacking and she was finding herself having to get up in the middle of the night to catch a bus, which meant rolling up her mosquito net and packing her bag in the dark so as not to wake others sleeping in the room, and getting out of the hostel without tripping on a floor that was sometimes soft and uneven.

Grandkids on excursion to Calgary Zoo with Nana

Grandkids on excursion to Calgary Zoo with Nana

Now Carol Kiecker is no quitter. She’s thinking about returning to eastern India this winter where you can “get a bus or train anywhere, anytime without having to awaken in the dark and stumble around”. Carol is also a grandmother, a “Nana” like me, and sometimes she takes her grandkids on her rather exotic travels.

Carol reminds me a little of Dervla Murphy, and I was reading about Dervia again this month, this time in Paul Theroux’s book The Tao of Travel. Dervia is an 83-year-old Irish writer of 23 travel books who made her way around the world on a bicycle. She brought her daughter with her to India, Baltistan, South America, and Madagascar, says Theroux. She, like Carol, has attitude, not considering herself brave (or reckless), weighing potential dangers, prepared to deal with reasonable hazards, and changing her plans if necessary. It’s so reassuring that this sort of travel is still being taken up by those who are not so young.

The underlying theme of Theroux’s book is “the importance of elsewhere” and that travellers seek “elsewhere” for varying reasons: just for fun; to live among strangers; to escape; to be tested; for travel’s sake; to contemplate the landscape, and so on. He quotes Paul Bowles, a regular contributor to the American publication Holiday, who said: “If I am faced with the decision of choosing between visiting a circus and a cathedral, a café and a public monument, or a fiesta and a museum, I am afraid I shall normally take the circus, the café and the fiesta.” It is just fine to travel for no important purpose other than the sheer joy of it.

Nana with grandson on a winter getaway weekend at Montebello, Quebec

A Nana with grandson on a winter getaway weekend at Chateau Montebello, Quebec

Where is this leading, you may wonder? Well I have been thinking about the grandmothers that I know and how they have taken up travel with their grandkids. Not necessarily to exotic destinations (although a safari seems to be on everyone’s wish list), but travel that is joyful, however that may be defined. Theroux believes the “yearning to leave home and go far away” is common, even for young children. When he was a kid, he relied on books for travel experiences until he was old enough to do it on his own. But today more and more grandparents are taking the young.

Over the year I will suggest experiences in Canada that should be on every kid’s Bucket List. They’ll be suitable for grandparents, parents and “aunties” too.

But they will all be inspired by a Nana!

Sylvia Fanjoy
Sylvia@ridingthebuses.com

© Riding the buses 2015

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