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Global traveling from a grandmothers perspective

April 10, 2011

Me and my beloved grandmother

Last weekend I visited my beloved grandmother. She is 94 years old and can barely walk. But she can talk and loves to share some stories. I decided to ask her about traveling then and now.

“My dear grandmother, tell me about your travel experiences.”

She would have loved to travel, but her husband always had serious obligations in the local church. She lived in times when the church was still basecamp for much of the local community. All her life she lived in a small town with not more than 1000 inhabitants. Her view on the world was very different from ours right now…

She traveled outside of the Netherlands only once: to Lourdes, France.
Lourdes is a town where millions of Catholic pilgrims go to each year. In 1858 a young girl, Bernadette, claimed to see Maria, mother of Jesus. Since then, many people (mostly with serious ilnesses) go there for in the hope of getting cured. For her this was the travel of a lifetime!

“My dear grandmother, what country in the world would you have loved to visit? “

Indonesia was the only place on her wish list. Her nieces were on a missionary quest in Indonesia and she loved reading their letters. She would have loved to see how the country looked like: the mountains, the rice fields. She didn’t get a chance to do so. Traveling by boat from Europe to Indonesia and back would take her months!

“My dear grandmother, what do you think of us traveling the world? “

She thinks it’s crazy how far we travel with our children. She supports it to the fullest because she knows traveling is our passion. Her world is smaller than ours and it is hard for her to understand what it is like to walk around in such a different part of the world.

When we mentioned New York City as our next travel destination, she looked at me and spoke the already famous words: “My Dear Emiel, This Time I Cannot Join You…”

Mad World

“My dear Emiel, traveling to all these far corners of the world, it’s crazy. It’s a mad world today..”

Indeed grandmother, but maybe we actually need these travels to escape from our own mad world…


From → Observations

  1. Your grandmother sounds like a sweet lady, Emiel. What a heatwarming post 🙂

  2. Beautiful. Touching. Written like a poem. It has a great rhythm to it and I thoroughly enjoyed this, dear Emiel.

  3. It is amazing how much travel has changed just within the past 50 years! We are now able to go to place we would never have dreamed of going before. Not only because we didn’t have easier access to these places, but because we probably wouldn’t have known about them!

    The world we live in now is rich with new information and resources. Travel is now just hop, click, and a skip away (and if you have some savings for it!)

    My own grandmother (she is Chinese, has lived in Guatemala her whole life, and has occasionally lived in the United States) would have been a world traveler if given the chance. I asked her once, where she would go if she could go anywhere in the world. And her response was Japan. I think this is one of the main reasons why Japan is at the top of my list as well. I want to go there for her, show her pictures, make her proud…

    • Michelle, loved to read about your grandmother! You should also profile her in one of your posts, they deserve it. And yes, Japan is a great choice, she knows how to pick an interesting country. Please make her proud, but I guess she already is..

  4. Beautifully written, Emiel..
    When she said Indonesia was the country on her wish list, well, there was and will always be some sort of connection between our countries.

  5. jacquelincangro permalink

    Lovely interview with your grandmother, Emil.

    I hope that you get to NYC soon. I live in Brooklyn and maybe I can recommend a few places for you to visit – and then share with your grandmother when you return.

    • We will Jacquelin and thanks for stopping by! It would be great to get some advice, I will send you a separate email.

      • Oh, and thanks for the Donnie Darko link…Great, sober way to start my day.

        That is one of the most amazing videos/covers ever.

  6. Farnoosh put it so well: there is an elegant, timeless rhythm to this post. I feel like I know you grandmother.

    My mom said my Grandpa would always ask about her travels as a PanAm flight attendant. He went to Europe with us, and always seemed to be on the “borderland”–firmly rooted to Omaha, but always involved with dreams of the “a better country.”

    I love this post:)

    • Thanks Mark. Donnie Darko was all about the borderland of the mind, so things come together very nicely 🙂

  7. This is such a lovely post. Makes me think about my own grandmama who’s not with us anymore but very much still with us in our hearts! Have a lovely time in NYC!

    • @foodtable: I am glad to hear that this post reminded you of your own grandmother. Guess you are proud of her as well.

  8. bringingtravelhome permalink

    lovely! what a beautiful picture and topic for a posting.

    • Monique, this topic just came up out of nowhere. Sometimes the smallest things turn out to contain great content!

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