From Arkansas to Africa
It is with great restraint that I am having to hold back on travel right now – in fact 2020 was the first in more than 25 years that I haven’t travelled!
My formative travel experiences began as a child of four years old, relocating to Arkansas in the U.S. and then again at 10 years old to California. You couldn’t get two more different places within the same country if you tried… and still to this day the United States may be called ‘united’ but is anything but! My grandad was American, so our family spent quite some time there. My claim to fame (or infamy!) is that a great-great-great Uncle of mine was the 27th President and there’s even a book about him called “President Taft is Stuck in the Bath”. The title alludes to the rumour of a great misadventure in the White House whereby six attendants had to pull his rather portly body out of the bathtub!
So, from early days, I understood change and movement and different parts of the world. It opened my eyes to the big wide world and by the time I left high school I was on a mission to save all the money I could for my O.E. I took off to see the world at the tender age of 18 years old. After about a year roaming Canada, the UK and a chunk of Europe by campervan, homesickness drew me back to New Zealand. Besides, the Gulf War had started and the parents were a bit nervous…
Potential career paths of Accounting and Market Research arose, both good money-makers, but I just couldn’t drag myself away from travel. Henceforth I have made my passion my career and my travels have now included more of Europe, Morocco, the Middle East, a little bit of Asia and a large chunk of South America and Africa. Ahh, Africa! I first travelled to Africa in 1993 on a South Africa famil trip, and that was it, the bug had bit! It’s my home-away-from-home, my happy place and has become my absolute specialist area of the world.
My favourite experiences in Africa include floating in a hot-air balloon over the Serengeti, watching the Great Migration heading to the greener grasses of the Masai Mara; sailing in a dhow and swimming with dolphins off the coast of a private island in Zanzibar; watching in awe as elephants, giraffe and other wildlife go about their daily lives at waterholes in the wilderness; fishing in the Okavango Delta; visiting local schools, giving back a little and seeing the joy on the children’s faces; wandering through the great Khan el Khalili bazaar in Egypt, tailed by chatty merchants…I could go on!
South America is my other love, with many fond memories of the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, the beaches of Buzios in Brazil, the mighty Iguazu Falls and of course the ancient Incan history of Cuzco and Machu Picchu. I’ve also visited Costa Rica and Mexico, where I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘haciendas’ and the culture.
There are many more fantastic experiences that ‘float my boat’ but even more importantly, I get a huge kick out of using my specialist knowledge to help others enjoy their own extraordinary personal experiences, it’s just so satisfying and never fails to put a smile on my face.