A couple of years ago I jumped on the Ancestry DNA bandwagon to discover more about my history. The results weren’t terribly surprising. My ancestors heralded primarily from England, The Netherlands and Scotland. A sprinkling of Scandinavian heritage appeared in the mix—likely from some of those infamous Viking invasions in Northern Europe. My ancestry timetable intrigued me more than anything. Extensive research by my father discovered our first American-born ancestor arrived in 1596—ahead of the Mayflower. Clearly, we go way back in these United States! 

My explorations of this big ole homeland of mine stretch from corner to corner. Cross country road trips, hikes in national parks, strolling on white sandy beaches, embracing the charms of small-town America and soaking in the lights of expansive cities have all appeared on my USA itineraries over the years. Covering 49 of the 50 states with my eyes set on Hawaii to finish the set, I know all about the wonders of this incredible country. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss the rest of the world.

Love letter to Norway. Photo by Terri Marshall
Love letter to Norway. Photo by Terri Marshall

The Gifts of International Travel

By walking into someone else’s world even for a brief encounter, we share special moments of life. We discover our commonalities which are usually far greater than our differences. Travel brings us together, opens our eyes and introduces us to worlds we may otherwise never see. Honestly, I’ve learned more traveling than I ever did in school.

With COVID continuing its invasion across the globe, our ability to venture into new worlds remain interrupted. Border closures persist and those that are open present obstacles that keep many of us closer to home.

I do love exploring my country, but I would be dishonest if I didn’t say I miss international travel. I miss getting off a plane in a foreign airport. I miss the sound of the passport stamp. I miss riding a train where the announcements are made in another language. I miss the challenge of deciphering the offerings on a menu. I miss watching the goofy wildebeest stomping across the Serengeti and the lions lazing about in the African sun. I miss watching the penguins waddle across Antarctica’s icy landscape. I miss snowmobiling across the frozen rivers in the Swedish Lapland, chatting with new friends from around the world in the sauna and watching the Northern Lights dance across the night sky. 

Thoughts of the sweet Peruvian woman dressed in traditional attire who asked if she could touch my hair simply because it was unlike her own make me wistful for cultural encounters. And anyone who knows me knows how much I miss the deep fjords, grass-topped houses, innovative architecture and jaw-dropping landscapes of Norway. 

  • Northern Lights with Friends in the Swedish Lapland. Photo: Terri Marshall
  • Love Letter to Antarctica. Photo by Terri Marshall

It’s Not Pretty Right Now

Look, I realize you’re seeing some of the worst of America in the news these days. You’re watching our COVID numbers continue to climb overloading our already inept healthcare system. You’re seeing rallies with unmasked people standing shoulder to shoulder as they cheer to shouts of “America First.” But I want you to know that most of us—even long time Americans—don’t feel the same way.

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to take care of our own country. Most of us believe the best way to do that comes by joining the rest of the world to fight not only the pandemic, but also climate change. We’re all on this earth together and personally, I believe the phrase we should embrace is “Earth First.” So be patient with us and we’ll do our absolute best to get this mess under control. Then I’ll be back eagerly exploring your countries and welcoming you back to a new and improved version of mine.

Wildebeest on the Serengeti. Photo: Terri Marshall
Wildebeest on the Serengeti. Photo: Terri Marshall

Cover photo taken in Peru by Terri Marshall.