Recently, I caught a few minutes of the 2007 Movie, Marco Polo. When I looked at the sets and backdrops of the movie, I was reminded of the beauty in different parts of China. As portrayed in this story, Marco Polo’s wanderlust began at a very early age. His adventures punctuates a long-standing penchant that many have experienced by trudging across mountains to chart new courses, and/or discover new lands and cultures. In the specific case of Marco Polo, his wanderlust resulted in the extension and in some cases the collapse of geographical boundaries throughout the world.
I, too, was bitten by the same travel bug that inspired Marco Polo. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to travel to new places -- to see the world. The prologue for my wanderlust, I am sure, began with a father who served in World War II in both the European and Pacific Theaters while serving in the US Navy. My raconteur Father often entertained me with tales of his travels while in the military as a young girl, and he continued to fascinate us with his tales of adventure until his last days on earth. Fueled by these stories, I began an early love affair with reading books that took me to faraway places and on journeys of adventures of the mind and heart. This passionate desire to see beyond the horizon started at a very early age. My earliest recollections involve traveling by bus around the city of New Orleans. Being the oldest of 10 kids, I was often tasked with running errands for my Mother on Saturday mornings. This was a job that I loved! It usually meant traveling by bus to get to these places. The best part of this trusted independence was that in the process of helping my mother, I was able to combine this responsibility with my love of exploration and discovery!
I very quickly and creatively learned how to pay one fare and then request transfer coupon that allowed me to take circuitous routes around the city. I would start from the outer east-end of the city where we lived, and take a bus that might route me around the Lake Ponchartrain area, or take me past the collections of elaborate marble tombs of the Metairie cemetery. A different route might require traveling past the above ground vaults in the famous St Louis cemeteries, where such luminaries as Marie LaVeau is reputedly buried. As the bus would lumber past, I was always mesmerized by the history and architectural elements of these cemeteries that are reminiscent of those on the outer edge of Paris. On most trips, I would make sure that I routed myself through the outer edge of the French Quarter and the Garden District. This was done by catching one of the historic the St Charles Streetcar.
I always loved it when my grandmother would come by our home (the local way of saying "visit"), and take me with her to visit my great-grandmother, who lived on the west bank of the city. This always meant that we got to catch the Algiers or Jackson Street ferry to cross the Mississippi River to the other side. Knowing how much I loved to explore and discover new and different things, my grandmother would often mix up the routes. This grandmotherly indulgence sometimes meant that this one hour trip would take up an entire morning or afternoon of travel before arriving at my great grandmother’s.
I was once asked if there are predictable antecedents that lead to one being bitten by the travel bug or surrendering to wanderlust. The anecdotal evidence seems to support this conjecture.