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April 22, 2007

Last month, I returned home from Europe with a small blue bag!  It was like a Barbie suitcase that little girls take to slumber parties!  There was pretty much a salad dressing in it -  French wine, herbs of Provence, lavender honey and some local olive oil, all wrapped and  protected with crumpled travel brochures and a mini travel blanket.

So with my husband dragging the Barbie bag and me combing my hair with a white plastic fork just like Ariel,  the Little Mermaid, it made for quite the spectacle!   We were sternly asked at EVERY airline counter and security checkpoint, "Where's your stuff?" And after delivering our sad story, we were both promptly frisked EVERY time.

We had been on a road trip and hiking tour with our daughter who is studying in France.  On our last day we had opted for lunch in a lovely Provençal town, craving one last baguette.  It was foolish to leave our belongings in the rental car.  When we returned, the side window was broken and everything we owned was gone!  At first I experienced  a moment of disbelief!   Seconds later I had to resist the urge to shriek "My make-up brushes and my new jeans are gone!  And I haven't even paid the Macy's bill!"   Worse yet, no one at the scene seemed terribly troubled by our misfortune!

After filing the requisite police report, we headed to the airport.  The hardest part was leaving my child on the steps of her school with virtually nothing but the clothes on her back! 

So why do we risk leaving the comforts of the haven we call home to travel? 

Travel changes who you are.  What is gained cannot be measured by the sun tan or souvenirs you bring home.  It is an adventure, and its worth is in experiencing, learning about, and contemplating the significance of other cultures.  Its worth is also in enabling your children to understand other people, how they live, and how our culture is just one piece of the whole puzzle.  And when you travel to a foreign destination it's not always comfortable or pretty, especially if you sometimes encounter first-hand the venom that can be spawned by poverty and hopelessness. 

Travel can also deepen your relationships.  You learn more about those with whom you are traveling, and you are better able to recognize each others' strengths and weaknesses.

The trip was wonderful!  Losing our stuff was too bad, but it by no means defined the experience.  One adverse incident cannot be allowed to dictate our overall impression or even whether or not we simply had a good time.  This adventure was about hiking on a terraced mountain overlooking the Mediterranean sea.  It was about having the opportunity to observe what a competent young woman our daughter has become.  (Its remarkable that she is ours!)   And of course, it was about the fun of eating Provence:  the bread, the wine - did I mention the bread? 

It was all terrific and it would be a shame to remember it as the time we got ripped off in France.  Instead, we will forever remember it as the time we met a very handsome French policeman.

To read more about our adventures in Provence, click here: