Fan Mail

10 10 2008

There’s nothing to make a gal feel great like a little adoration. Being the youngest in my family by many years, I am aunty to 11 children, most of whom, to varying degrees, consider me the fun young aunt, different and cooler than their parents and other aunts/uncles. Any I, of course revel in this fact.

This morning, to my great delight, I found this comment from one niece. Her sister, however, had other things to say. My oldest brother, Gregg, has three daughters. His youngest, Olivia, has always had an inexplicable and yet wholly welcome affinity for me. She tends to prefer me to just about everyone else in the vicinity, often including her own mother. Wherever I am, you don’t have to look far to find Olivia.

And, though incredibly diplomatic, my darling does not keep her love of Titi (as the kids call me) under wraps. When teased by my brother Scott, who insists (to the point of annoyance, as only Scott can do) that he is her favorite person, little Olivia stands firm. And when this past summer Scott got her to call him her favorite uncle (by letting her OD on frosting), the darling quickly turned to me and added, “He said uncle,” just to make sure there was no question of my having slipped from favor.

Why is all this important? Because my nieces have been looking at my blog. Several months back I wrote about Olivia’s older sisters in a post about passing on a love of travel, and in this one about baking. Olivia was not mentioned in these posts, in part because she was uncharacteristically not at my side during these interactions, and in part because I intended a separate post about her, which then never came about. It will now, however…

This morning I woke to the following email, titled “it’s your darling”:

I read your blog  you didint write about me . When are you going to do that? Why did you write about  all my sisters and not me? I’m your darling appendige . And your pretend godchild . Do you relly love me or not ? If you don’t write about  me I will like uncle scott more then you! I’m serius with you are you worred about that? now or never

From the word “appendage” (which I have used with and defined for her in the past) I’m guessing she may have had some help crafting this note. It’s entirely possible that Scott put her up to it. It’s also entirely possible that she is really that enraged. Whatever the case, it looks as though my next post will be that long belated story of Olivia’s tea party. And soon.

Me and my shadow.

Me and my shadow.





Paying It Forward

16 07 2008

The fun thing about travel is, of course, the meeting of new people and the seeing of new things. That part’s a given. But an equally important part of travel (and the part that keeps us travel fiends going in between trips) is the sharing of the travel experience. Even better, sharing the travel experience when the experience itself is a new thing.

Let me explain. While at home in California I got to spend quality time with my young nieces from Colorado, who, at ages 12 and almost 11, are finally old enough to understand the magnitude of international travel and actually be interested in it. (As opposed to six years ago when the little Flamenco fans I brought from Spain were cool solely for the pretty designs on them.)

Now, these girls have had their fair share of travel in the course of their young lives, but somehow trips to California or even the all-inclusive resort in Mexico (while it of course has its merit) does not quite have the same effect. Getting their hair braided doesn’t count discovering a culture.

So the fact that Alyssa (the older sister)’s eyes lit up when I mentioned my trip to Peru was fantastic. When she enthusiastically told me she’d done a project on Peru this year, I wasted no time in whisking her away to my computer and pulling up photos from the trek (a feat not all that easy, given that the pictures—which I finally had all organized and ready to send out—were lost when my hard drive crashed).

There we sat for nearly an hour, flipping through photos of the trail, the houses, the people, and, wonder of wonders, Machu Picchu. To my delight, Alyssa was riveted, as was her sister Nicolette. They were fascinated by the scenery, the dress, the trek itself. And the fact that their aunty (who, admittedly, they know to be a bit of a priss) went five days without showering. And, for my part, I loved reliving the experiences and the stories, and watching their excitement.

But even better was the fact that they were experiencing the wonders of travel (albeit armchair travel) for the first time. While I’ll never know the exact impact it had, by the looks on their faces I’d guess that these girls figured out that there are wonders out there, and that it’s within their reach to see them.

But more importantly, I think it sparked a desire to see them, and it was educational too. Later that day, when Alyssa and I visited the store and I didn’t take a bag for our cans of condensed milk (a preview of my next post) we talked about doing little things for the environment. And when I told her that Salkantay, the glacier she saw in my photos, was melting rapidly because of global warming, her response was, “That would be terrible if I wanted to see it when I grow up and it wasn’t there.” Check and check. New generation of female travelers (and environmentalists) officially recruited.