Thursday, November 13, 2014

Great Explorations

I've written a bit here before about my love of travel.  Pre-kids I was lucky enough to live briefly and travel extensively in Malta, America, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. My time in these places ranged from two to fourteen months so I had an opportunity to get to know the country I was staying in far more than I could ever have done on a two week package deal.

When I watched the promo for the new Netflix Original - Marco Polo I was struck again by the power of travel - whatever age you are or whatever age you live in.  The quote that jumped out at me was that 'Marco had this passion for people and cultures...' - and that to me is really what travel should be about.

Immersing yourself in a country and it's culture, and getting to know the people who live there is an amazing life experience. One of the very best.

In Mexico I was fortunate to spend enough time there to learn the language. I lived amongst a powerful group of 'givers'. I visited homes made of mud and corrugated iron, and stayed with families who gave up their only bed to me and shared their modest meals with me. I played with their beautiful children, spent time with their teenage misfits and happily walked their dusty streets for many months. In that time I went from being a stranger in a strange land to becoming a part of their lives, and they mine.

They taught me that poverty does not stunt generosity, that laughter must be found wherever it can be, and that hope is essential to keeping the human spirit alive. That's a pretty powerful lesson for anyone - let alone a young Irish girl straight out of college.

In Australia I met other travellers from Israel, Holland, Japan and England and we bonded over stubbies of VB and our love of this vast new country we found ourselves in. We spent sun soaked days and warm tropical nights with Australian friends as they shared tales covering politics, racism and past lives lived as flower-haired woodland hippies of the 70's.

Later that year I got a job and moved into a flat by the beach with my new Australian film editor friend. We made terrible attempts to learn to surf together and she spent countless hazy nights on our balcony explaining the Aboriginal culture to me. I was living and learning Australia - past and present, and I was loving every minute of it.

In New Zealand I drove the North and South islands trying to find my niche. I swam with dolphins, jumped into deep, dark underground rivers and had many adventures.

But it wasn't until I spent time working on a farm for an older Kiwi couple that it really came alive to me. Rather than all the bungy jumping and white water rafting - it was among the homemade jams, shared dinners and rolling green hills that I found my New Zealand.

Malta, America, Thailand all had their own stories to tell me too, and the countries that left the most mark were the ones where I had the opportunity to explore not just their beautiful landscapes - but the people and their way of life too.

The stories of Marco Polo are all about travel, exploration and adventure. They are about people, places and passion. They are about being out of your comfort zone and the amazing lessons in life that can bring.

But if all that doesn't tempt you to watch the new series - how about this:

Lorenzo Richelmy who plays Marco Polo in the film
Photo credit.

Yep. Thought so.

This post is for the Netflix Stream Team. Marco Polo premières on Netflix in December. 
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