Travel Books

The Day the World Came to Town

We all remember where we were on September 11th, 2001 when reports came in of planes hitting the Twin Towers in New York City. I was sitting in English class, when my teacher wheeled a t.v. in. We all sat in shocked silence, watching the terror unfold and automatically thinking of those who were on the planes and those who were in the towers and surrounding area.

Immediately, United States airspace was closed and aircraft were ordered to land at the nearest airport. Thirty-eight planes were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland. Right away, the people of Gander started making preparations for the 6,595 passengers and crew that would be landing in their small town of 10,000 over the next couple of hours.

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The Day the World Came to Town – 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede, tells the stories of the “plane people” who found themselves in Gander and the friendly Newfoundlanders who welcomed them with open arms. From the moment the first plane landed, everyone in Gander and surrounding towns stopped what they were doing and did everything they could to help. People began setting up shelters, cooking and supplying meals and snacks, and chauffeuring the people from the planes to anywhere they wanted to go, or just giving them a tour of the town.

There was always someone available at each of the shelters twenty-four hours a day, just in case anyone needed something. They invited people into their homes to use phones, computers and showers and did whatever they could to help the passengers during their stay in Gander, which lasted almost a week.

During this time of devastation, people stripped their houses bare of sheets and towels, and offered the use of their vehicles. Pharmacists filled prescriptions from all over the world at no cost. Local businesses emptied their shelves of food, clothing, toys and toiletries. The Canadian Tire in town was given instructions by its head office to provide whatever was required at no expense.

It was a time of sharing and camaraderie between the locals and those who had been displaced there. Meals and stories were shared and some of the lucky passengers were made honorary Newfoundlanders after being “screeched in” at a local pub. (This involves drinking locally brewed liquor called Screech and kissing a codfish!)

9/11 was a day of terror and loss; but in Gander, Newfoundland, it was also a place of love, compassion and humanity

Categories: North America, Travel Books, Uncategorized, Where in the World | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

‘Around the World in 50 Years’

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As a travel addict, I’ve often dreamed about travelling to every country in the world, so when I came across Albert Podell’s book ‘Around the World in 50 Years‘ I was intrigued. Albert set a goal for himself to actually set foot in every official country around the world, which at the time of writing was 196, and then started checking them off.  Some were easy and enjoyable, others a bit more challenging, but then he got down to the ones that were war-torn, almost impossible to get visas for and just plain dangerous.  Yet fifty years after travelling to his first country, Canada, he touched down in the nearly impossible to reach Angola and finished his mission.

Talk about living life to the fullest. After reading this book, I feel as though I’ve hardly travelled. I thought I had some great travel stories (and I do have a few) but nothing compared to some of the harrowing tales of Albert’s years on the road.  He writes with humour and compassion about the adventures he’s had, filled with curiosity and drama.

He comments that he would have enjoyed the quest even more had some of the parts been not quite such a challenge, but in the end wouldn’t change it.

“At the end of the day, I was able to play the cards the world dealt me and survive to 196. Who else can say that?”

The issues he faced both getting into some countries and then safely getting around the has made me rethink (slightly) my quest to visit every single country, but what an accomplishment that would be!

Categories: Blog, Travel Books | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Tracks

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I love reading travel books. Reading about the journeys others have set out on or those adventures people fall into by mistake inspires me even more in my quest to see the world. Seeing their trials and successes and imagining myself in those situations allows me to get a taste of what the trip could be like.  Usually, as I finish one of these books, I start thinking about taking my own adventure just like the one the author has written about. I declare that I’m going to set off for a year of travel, or I’m going to ride my motorcycle around the world (after learning how to drive one…), or that I’m off to live with the Maasai, and so on and so on.

I just finished reading Tracks by Robyn Davidson about her journey across 1,700 miles of Australian desert by camel. For the first time, I closed a travel book wondering if this is an adventure I could actually do.  Sure, I’d love to go camel trekking in Morocco or out to the pyramids in Egypt, but could I actually spend over half a year trekking across the desert with just four camels and a dog to keep me company, only coming across other humans every so often?  I’m not sure I could. It’s also not something I ever would have thought to do.

Robyn writes, “The question I’m most commonly asked is ‘Why?’  A more pertinent question might be, why is it that more people don’t attempt to escape the limitation imposed upon them? If Tracks has a message at all, it is that one can be awake to the demand for obedience that seems natural simply because it is familiar. Wherever there is pressure to conform (one person’s conformity is often in the interests of another person’s power), there is a requirement to resist. Of course I did not mean that people should drop what they were doing and head for the wilder places, certainly not that they should copy what I did. I meant that one can choose adventure in the most ordinary of circumstances. Adventure of the mind, or to use an old-fashioned word, the spirit.”

While I’m not sure I’ll be setting out to trek the wild desert anytime soon, I will always choose adventure and trying something new, and encourage you all to do the same.

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