Friday, May 30, 2014

Friendship Force Bliss

One of the most delicious things about my sixties thus far has been travel. 

Andean woman in traditional garb. The goats were only a week old.

Last November I visited Peru with the Dayton Friendship Force. Friendship Force International was founded in 1977 by Warren Smith and Jimmy Carter. Its mission is: To promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people. Travel with Friendship Force includes a home stay in addition to touring places of interest. Chapters have outbound experiences, like my trip to Peru, and inbound experiences, where the chapter hosts both domestic and international groups.

The Dayton chapter recently hosted fourteen visitors from New Zealand. I was fortunate to be able to have several of those visitors and their Dayton families over for a cook out on my deck. People who belong to FF are citizens of the world. They love travel, meeting people, trying new things, and are very curious and friendly.

As I sat and listened to travel stories being shared, I was astounded by the number and variety of places these folks had been. One woman shared that she had just returned from Russia after having visited there in 1994. It was fascinating to hear how things have changed and how they have remained exactly the same. You experience a country differently from the living room of a new friend than you do as a business traveler or tourist.

I am traveling with my son to Puerto Rico for a basketball tournament in November. Several folks had been there recently and suggested we schedule an outing with a boat company that will take us out to where the waters are luminescent. And, I got a follow up email the next day with reservation information. I have always wanted to experience this and also have a desire to see the Northern Lights. I gathered plenty of suggestions about that as well, including both the best time of year and the best vantage points. If you want insider travel tips, talk to FF travelers!

By the end of the evening my heart was full. I had some new friends, some travel inspiration, and felt so very fortunate to be able to revel in it all. Life is good.

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