Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, and out in the blogosphere, travel bloggers are asking what we have to be thanksful for when it comes to travel. In my case, the list is long.
I’m thankful for having had the chance to see Venice before it sinks into the lagoon on which it was built. For having walked the streets of some of the world’s great cities — New York, London, Paris, Mexico City, Tokyo. For seeing Hawaiian waterfalls so tall that you could fly a helicopter beneath them.
I’m going to give thanks that I’ve been able to set foot at least once in my life on every continent except Africa, Australia and Antarctica. For having seen snow-capped mountains, lush rainforests and flat, scorching deserts. For having had the chance to see as an adult a few of the places I dreamed of as a child.
I’m thankful for having had the chance to share rides, flights and meals with people who could communicate with me only through their smiles and their kindness — and in doing so, spoke volumes.
I’m thankful for old friends in California and Connecticut with whom I’ve shared journeys to other parts of the world, and new ones in Chicago and Canada and Paris and Senegal.
For the daughter of the Japan Air Lines pilot who taught me how to use chopsticks and the young Czech journalist who taught me how to travel with an open heart.
For my Mexican colleagues who taught me the meaning of friendship and in doing so, became my sisters and brothers.
Most of all, I’m thankful for Melrose Elementary School in Oakland, CA.
We’d just moved to Oakland from New Orleans and its racially segregated school system. I went from classrooms where everyone, including the teacher, looked like me, to one in which everyone else looked like…well…everyone else, from everywhere else.
Blacks, whites, Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos. The whole world, it seemed, was in my classroom, a United Nations in pencil, chalk and crayons.
I loved it.
It made me want to know more about a world that could produce so many different kinds of equally fascinating, incredible people.
And I’m really thankful for that.
Happy Thanksgiving. See you after the turkey.