Greetings and salutations,
Welcome to blog post number 100 of travelingwithtom.com. A big thanks to everyone who has followed my blog postings for the past 22 months and offered me words of encouragement and ways to improve my articles. Much to my surprise, I’ve kept this thing (blogging that is) going since November 2015. This probably the longest I’ve ever stuck with something as challenging as writing, editing and posting an article once a week. My usual experience is that I start something, stay excited for awhile, then get bored and move on to something else. This effort has been different, I think about topics and ideas all the time. So when I go out to experience the world, even though that “world” it might be just down the street, I’m constantly thinking of how I can tell the story of my experience in a way that you the readers might find interesting. And to be honest, I’m at the age where I hear the clock of life ticking away and want to experience as much of this world as I can and share it with you while I’m still able. Well, enough of my musings and on to this celebratory post.
This week (and next because it’s hard for me to be brief!) I’m sharing some of my favorite posts. My very first post was about Madeline Island, a place that I’ve written a number of articles include last week’s post. In retrospect, this first post was pretty lightweight, I didn’t know what I was doing only that I wanted to do it! I think I’ve improved vastly over time but have lots of room to grow. My second post was only a day later after the terrible terrorist attack in Paris. That was from the heart and a tribute to the resolve of the French people. The other three posts are have really deep meaning to me, one about the children in Cuba and Ghana and a post from York, England about a D-Day survivor.
November 14, 2015 – “MADELINE ISLAND PART 1”
“Tom here with a new blog focused on traveling and other musings but mostly about travel and adventures both near and far. My desire is to share some of the stories that emerge from our travels, things that happen on the journey, things that change us, and things that help us grow. I’ll also include some of my photographs that I hope help to tell the story. Expect to see a new blog entry about once a week, of course that will depend on the availability of internet when on the road. I appreciate any comments and suggestions for improvement that come my way. So let’s get started with our recent trip to Madeline Island.”
November 14, 2015 – “France”
“I know, I know that less than 24 hours ago I said I would be putting up a post once a week but with the horrific events that took place in Paris last night, I felt the need to reach out and support the people of France. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to families of the victims and the whole country. May they find peace during this difficult time.
France is such a fabulous country, filled with great people, and a nation that has made so many contributions to the world. For example, our third President Thomas Jefferson served as the US ambassador to France for five years. He was enthralled by the music, art, architecture, engineering, education, and experienced the French enlightenment that helped to shape his thinking and actions when he returned to the US.”
February 28, 2016 – “Cuba – “The Niños””
“This week the focus is on the children (niños) of Cuba. We found the kids to be fun, engaging and curious about us, the gringos, wandering around their towns and shooting photos wherever we went. For many of them, seeing themselves in a photograph, even if it was only on the back of a camera, was very exciting and made them smile those big, welcoming Cuban smiles. Most of these photos were taken during our limited free time during our trip, when we were free to explore on our own. All of the photos have a fun story to go with them that I hope helps you to better understand what it’s like growing up in Cuba.”
May 1, 2016 – “Ghana – “Obroni! Obroni!””
“”Obroni! Obroni!” was something I heard everyday. These words would be shouted at me, mostly by children but sometime adults. The Twi word means in English, white person (man or woman) or foreigner. And being a pale skinned, white guy of European descent with gray hair and dressed differently than most of them, it was a give away! Honestly, in the ten days I was in Agogo, I only saw a few other caucasians or non black Africans. It did remind me of the very first time I ever saw a black person. It was in my hometown of Hazen, North Dakota on a Saturday afternoon on Main Street in the mid to late 1950’s. There was a black man in a white shirt, tie and bowler hat walking down the street right about where the bowling alley used to be. I was a young kid but I can still remember starring at him as he walked along minding his own business, very much like the kids in Agogo and surrounding villages looked at me. He might have felt out of place in the 99.99% community of caucasian northern Europeans. At first, I feel a little odd about being the “different” one but as the days went on I became more comfortable being the “different” person in the community. This also had a few downsides, like people asking for money for food or drink assuming I was a rich American or a number of people asking me to take them to the US.”
“Whenever I would stop someplace, it didn’t take long for a bunch of kids to appear. This group started out with a couple of kids but within seconds the group tripled in size! There would be times when I was walking down the street and I’d turn around there were be a parade of kids following me. They’d laugh and either run off or they would want to shake my hand. One of the common greetings in Ghana is “you are welcome” and they mean it like you are welcome in my community and my country. Pretty sweet when you think about it. Some of the kids would practice their English by saying “How are you?” followed by “I’m fine.” All done with a big smile on their faces.”
June 5, 2016 – “York, England”
“We were in the UK to participate in a Friendship Force of Madison exchange with the Cleveland Friendship Force club May 11-18 (more on that in a future post). One of the days during our stay, our hosts arranged a bus trip to York, located about an hour and 20 minutes from our host area. The bus dropped us across the street from the War Memorial Gardens in downtown York. As we started walking away from the bus stop, Donna and I noticed a small group of people, some in uniforms, standing in the Gardens across the street. We were curious about what was happening so wandered over to find out. We asked this distinguishing looking chap what was what was going on. He told us they were doing a memorial service for the deceased veterans of the York Chapter of the Normandy Veterans Association.”
“His name is Ken Smith who was a Signaler for the 43rd Wessex Division of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He went on to tell us that he landed on Gold Beach on June 6, 1944, the beach next to Omaha Beach where the Americans landed and lost almost 2500 men. He told us that he was one of five surviving members of their association, number six had been buried the week before. Mr. Smith also told us that he and other British D-Day veterans had just been awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honour, the highest decoration awarded by the French government. It’s the one with a bright red ribbon on his left shoulder. He then invited us to stay for the ceremony, he said it wouldn’t last long and there wouldn’t be many people, he wished more were interested. We then started chatting with the standard bearer who carries the flag of the Yorkshire Regiment Association at events such as this. We didn’t get his name but he was very friendly and told us a bit about his service in the British Army. He told us that he heard that the Americans treat their veterans very well and wished they had the same support in Great Britain.
Hope you enjoyed this brief look back and as always your comments are welcome and appreciated. Thanks for checking in this week and watch for Part 2 next week.
Until next week, travel safe.