The instinct to explore is ingrained in my soul. It came from both sides of my family and its restless quest for discovery has driven me since birth. I find myself hankering for the ‘next trip,’ even when one is right around the corner.

My mother watches my behavior and shakes her heard, just like mom. Her mother is remembered for packing the car with everything everyone needed, getting out the map and pointing, Joe we’re going here. And there my grandfather would drive, often with extraneous multi-day detours when my grandmother would point at the map and proclaim, let’s see this, it’s not too far

I believe I gained another traveling gene from my paternal great-grandmother. She met my great-grandfather when he was beginning a PhD program and agreed to marry him. She did not agree, however to wait around until he finished. I’ll be back, she’d said and departed. She traveled across Russia, down into Siberia, across China and Japan in a time when few women traveled—especially alone. She set up a few schools and stayed long enough to see them through, returning only after my great grandfather finished his training.

I admire these women, but it was not this admiration that sent me into a love affair with travel. It was only after this endless thirst became apparent, that my parents relayed these stories to me with nostalgic bemusement seeing familial traits in their beloved, starry-eyed daughter.

What draws me to travel I believe is similar to what drew me to science: around every corner is something to be discovered. In science we ask questions who don’t yet have answers and work until those answers become tangible and well crafted. In travel, though today the places have largely been discovered, it is not until we experience them, that we can know their true identity. We must smell the local market, speak with the people, taste the exotic fruits, observe the surrounding nature and feel the familiar air blow a foreign breeze around us, before we can say we know about a place. First hand experience is irreplaceable and I am always torn between lingering to know a place’s intimate details and moving to another—for there is always more to see.

My educational training is in ecology, evolution, marine biology and animal behavior. These are highlights of my trips, not professional baggage I try to leave behind. The evolutionary adaptations of flora and fauna to new climates are more fascinating first hand, especially when similarities between distant places of similar climate leave an eerie nostalgia: given certain physical habitat characteristics, animals face comparable challenges and, given enough time, often find themselves wearing the evidence of the same adaptations[1]. I am always on the look out for these adaptations as well as interesting ecology and intricate animals behaviors.

There is no better way to gain perspective and learn about the world than to get out and see it.

I LOVE to travel—anywhere, anytime, (almost) anyway. My countries tally is currently in the 30s and I aim to surpass 100 someday. That said, I’m not a country hopper. I want to absorb each place, drink in its nuances.

 

[1] This is known as convergent evolution, the process whereby organisms not closely related (not monophyletic), independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.

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