Thanksgiving and Travel

I don’t exactly have one foot in the grave, but within the next week I’ll be celebrating my 30th birthday.  It causes me to reflect upon my life and everything that has brought me to my current situation.  I’ve been immensely blessed in a number of ways.  I’ve been fortunate to marry the love of my life, and we’ve spent almost 6 years together.

Mi familia

Sheldon & Company

The Good Lord has blessed us with two wonderful children who bring us so much happiness (and stress).  Seeing them grow up, learn, and experience life has only begun, but already I recognize that it will be rewarding.  Hopefully there will be at least one more child (in the distant future) that can join our family.

As long as I’ve got my family, I can travel, and work hard life is pretty dang good.

Thanksgiving and Travel

My brother just returned tonight from a 5 week excursion across Southeast Asia.  He spent time in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.  His vacation was unforgettable, and the memories will never fade.  He performed his return ritual which was a Mountain Dew (Not found in most other countries) and Taco Bell.  We visited today about his vacation and he reminded me how good life is in America.

Dali Lama, a wise sage, once said, “Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.”  I think this serves many purposes.  One of them is to help you recognize the blessings that you have.  There is nothing that makes you appreciate what you have until you don’t have it, right?  Well to “one-up” that, travel outside the country and realize how much rougher life is for most people across the globe.

As you celebrated the holidays this year, think about all the blessings that you’ve received. If you can’t think of many blessings, plan a trip abroad and quickly you’ll recognize about 1 million or more.  Sometimes it’s the small things:

  • Free soda refills
  • Paper towels in the bathroom
  • Soap in the bathroom
  • Great gas prices

Other times you’ll recognize the big things:

  • Laws
  • A bathroom
  • A house
  • Clean hospitals
  • Grocery Stores

Sometimes it takes a small experience to help you recognize how good life is for you.  Here are a couple of small stories from my life that have made me more grateful.

Haitian Grocery Store

I’ll never forget the time my father and I went to Haiti and stopped at an outdoor market.  They were selling vegetables, eggs, fruit, and meats.  It was a scorching hot day outside as we approached the meat area.  My father distinctly remembers thinking, “Do they have spices covering the meat?” as he walked closer to the tables.  When he got close enough to recognize what it was, he saw hundreds of flies sitting right on the meat.  Somehow we still managed to eat dinner that night. I’m grateful for grocery stores, and sanitation standards for those handing my food!

Paraguayan Headlights

I spent 2003-2004 in Paraguay.  During my time there I was fortunate enough to learn how to drive Paraguayan style.  On one occasion I recall driving down the highway when a pair of red tail lights were fast approaching me.  However, it appeared as though they were in the opposite lane.  I wasn’t sure if someone had pulled over, if someone was driving in the other lane or what.  As they came closer I realized that they weren’t tail lights at all.  They were red headlights!  I was perplexed that a police officer wouldn’t pull that crazy person over and throw him in jail! I’m grateful for police that keep idiots like this guy off the road!

Panamanian Food

Back in 2008 my wife and I took a trip to Panama.  It was our “after the honeymoon” international trip that I had promised.  We had an unforgettable trip seeing many historic landmarks.  Our trip was both relaxing at times, and adventurous at others.  During one stretch we spent time on the San Blas Islands.  They are an idyllic set of 360+ tiny islands in the Caribbean.  At each meal we were offered chicken, or fish as a main dish.  Each lunch and dinner had the same options.  After a few days we had grown weary of the same fish for lunch and dinner.  I’m grateful for variety in foods that I can eat for each meal.

I’m sure that you can dig deep in your history and find some remarkable stories like these that make you grateful for things you never realized where very valuable.  This is one of the many reasons that I love to travel.

What stories from your travels have made you more grateful for your blessings?

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