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You are listening to: EL TREN LECHERO played on the paraguan harp
Vous écoutez: EL TREN LECHERO joué sur la harpe paraguayenne

Traveling...with a packsack on her back...

by Sybil Angelica

My mother had always wanted to travel. Unfortunately, my father was adamant: he would NEVER take a plane.

When my sister Danielle moved to Vancouver about 24 years ago and had her 2 girls, mom decided that SHE would definitely go and see and of course, being my mother, help her.

When my daughter, Louise, went to Vancouver also with her newborn baby girl Marilou,20 years ago, my mother started to commute between Vancouver and Montreal.

However she was not satisfied flying thru Canada.

She wanted more. She started midly enough...


This was the first "away-from-Canada" trip. :)

She learned some Spanish and off she went. It was not, 25 years ago, easy to go to Cuba. The restrictions were severe and the visits very curtailed. But she managed to make friends with the chamber maids, bus boys, waiters.... and had some lovely trips. My mother, however is NOT your run of the mill traveler. amd Cuba was much too tame!


At age 67, she decided that she would "get into shape"; training herself by walking, wearing a backpack; her walks became longer and she started putting bricks in her backpacks so that it would get heavier and heavier. Then she left us to go to London, where she then took the ORIENT EXPRESS. She walked the Wall of CHina, crossing Europe, Russia, Siberia and finally China. As was her wont, she had the train porters in the palm of her hands. My mother is always so courteous, so kind and understanding, and so willing to make friends that everone automatically loves her. She arrived in Hong-Kong swearing she would never again drink tea (it being the beverage of choice on the long train ride...)but definitely would keep up her travels.


While everyone was going to London and Paris, the Cote d'Azur and the Costa del Sol, my mother decided she wanted to see Eastern Europe: Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Russia etc...

You must remember that this was long before Glassnot. She was awakened around midnight one night, in Poland, since they were closing the borders in an hour! She of course, took it in stride.... Good for you Mom :)

She was more eager than ever to keep on traveling...


She started training herself in earnest, with an ever increasinly heavy pack-sack, and booked a passage to Bali-Sumatra, with the Adventure club. She was then 70. That the other members of the group averaged 30 years old did not faze my mom at all.

So off she went trekking thru the jungle, "speaking" with every native that she met. The guide new that when it was time to find Olga, all he had to do was find a group of natives. There she would be squatting in the middle of the group, speaking her own sign language and making friends! Because although tourists were not rare, to see an already older woman who wanted to be their FRIEND, THAT was something quite new. And they loved to touch her skin, her hair, see her blue eyes.

She always took along little boxes of chiclets, the 2 gum ones, and a big batch of inexpensive plastic pens that she would distribute. The natives very often saved her empty packs of cigarettes to decorate their huts. Remember she was NOT in the big cities. She was trekking thru the jungle.... She told me of meeting a chief and being shown a room, where until a few years earlier, the man would receive his chosen girls. There was a window that gave out on a precipice. She learned that if the girls were not satisfactory, they were summarily thrown thru the window!

She came back more determined than ever to keep on traveling. Her next goal was Algeria. But not Algiers.... ohhhhh noooooo! not mom :)


Again she booked with the Adventure Club and off she went to the desert.

Unfortunately, when she arrived, there had been a misunderstanding and she was alone of her group. Many younger people would then have remained in the capital... but NOT MY MOTHER !!!!!!!!!!

She found 2 local guides and went off trotting after the group. Well!!! for my mom this was definitely a plus! Being alone with these two younger men who literally venerated her, she was taken to their villages, introduced to the chiefs, welcomed in a harem, (as a visitor LOL), until a couple of weeks later she finally catched up. She ate dried camel, slept under the stars when no village was available, and drank TEA !!!! mint tea.... which she could not refuse for that would have been impolite and if ever anyone is a lady, my mother is :)

After coming back, there were some difficult months when physical problems would not permit her to travel as easily. However, she now was commuting Montreal/Vancouver/Magdalen Islands as I had moved there.

TWO years ago, at 83 she made it to


which was the one place she felt she really wanted to see.

My father eventually decided that he would travel also but only by train. Here he is with my mom and Danielle in Vancouver after their first trip on the TransCanadian.


A few years ago, my mother's health was declining. But she had always wanted to go to Morocco. So at 80 years of age, she "packed" my 2 sisters and off they went! That trip was in a luxury hotel, quite different from how mom usually travelled! but of course she had to take my sisters' sensibilities into account! *snickers from big sister!!!* That was her last trip. For the moment.....

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