Postcards, airmail sheets, email, blogs, skype, sim cards…

As part of my therapeutic journaling of my travels back in the day, I would fill up quite a few post cards and those thin blue airmail sheets with news, save them all up until I could find a post office (which usually was an excursion in and of itself), and then mail them all off to friends and family.    If I were staying in one place for some time, I would have people send mail to me via poste restante to the local post office, and then…it would be the waiting game for a letter to come in for me.

When one did, it was thrilling.

Because, even though you’re off experiencing adventures in far away lands, there is ALWAYS the element of missing home.  Family.  Friends.

So getting news from home is precious and sweet.  Back in 1992 when I was backpacking through South East Asia, it was the presidential elections.  Bill Clinton and Ross Perot were up against incumbent George H. W. Bush.  I was in Bali, biting my nails on election night.  Twelve hours ahead of New York time, I remember waking up the morning after the elections occurred in the U.S., running to the center of town to one of the only public pay phones, and calling my folks.  We had a system where I would call them collect and they would call back.  By the time I had my dad on the line, a queue of other travelers had formed behind me for their turn to call home.

I remember the conversation distinctly.

“Hi Dad, who won?”

“Oh, Lyn (my mother), it’s Carla calling.  Get on the other line.  How are you, honey?  Great to hear your voice!  Where are you now?”

“Dad, who WON??”

“Well, it’s not final.  Some of the states haven’t closed their polls yet.  But it’s pretty clear who the winner is.”

“Dad, please!!!”

“It’s a pretty wide margin.”


“Clinton won!”

I shouted out, “Clinton won!” and the crowd behind me let out a collective yell of delight.  Then, I told my poor dad, who was dying for news from me, that I had to call him back because there was a line of people wanting to use the phone after me.  That news from home was particularly sublime.  I remember organizing an impromptu election party that night, at Nick’s Pension in Ubud, where even a few disappointed travelers joined us for a friendly night of celebration.

Times sure have changed.  Aside from the pesky time difference, I can pick up the phone and call my family with my gsm phone (where you buy a local sim card for a few bucks, put it in your phone, and wala!  Calling home is cheap and easy).  Or even easier is a free skype session on the computer, where you can even show your loved ones your new digs via webcam.  And if I want to reach out to many folks at one time?  A blog!

Speaking of blogs.  This is a very good time to acknowledge my inspiration for doing a blog (which I was pretty reluctant to do….the blog, that is…not the acknowledging).  As a mom of an active preschooler, I don’t have a lot of time to read, but the three blog bookmarks on my computer are ones I stumbled upon of friends of mine.  Brave souls who are willing to put themselves out there, with meaningful things to say…

Patti Roads’ blog on living healthy:

Anne Honzel’s blog on perspective, gratitude, life…

Barrett Lester’s blog on creating tech harmony in your life:

So, thank, guys…for forging a path…


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