Uncornered Market » Perspectives http://uncorneredmarket.com travel wide, live deep Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:23:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 On Gratitudehttp://uncorneredmarket.com/reflections-on-gratitude/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/reflections-on-gratitude/#comments Thu, 28 Nov 2013 18:29:59 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=14099 By Daniel Noll

In honor of giving thanks, the best of intentions underpinning the Thanksgiving holiday, I offer this reflection on gratitude — the condition, the emotion and the state of being.  Note to Thanksgiving critics, skeptics and cynics: to underscore my awareness of the historical complexity behind the holiday, I point you to this article.  Also, if […]

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By Daniel Noll

Sunset Walk at La Ventanilla Beach - Mazunte, Mexico
Reflections.

In honor of giving thanks, the best of intentions underpinning the Thanksgiving holiday, I offer this reflection on gratitude — the condition, the emotion and the state of being.  Note to Thanksgiving critics, skeptics and cynics: to underscore my awareness of the historical complexity behind the holiday, I point you to this article.  Also, if it appears that I’m repeating The Importance of Saying Thank You, I’m not.

Now, on gratitude.

Thanksgiving, The Excuse

Thanksgiving, I’ve said repeatedly, is my favorite holiday.  Aside from the craziness of “the biggest travel day of the year in the U.S.” and the lunacy around the Black Friday shopping perversion, the idea to my mind is pretty straightforward and pure: get yourself together with family and friends, share a meal (OK, so eat a ton), and be thankful for it.

Then maybe, in a food coma stupor, ruminate gratefully.

Or perhaps ruminate before the gorge.  After all, blood rushes to the digestive system thereby depriving the brain of the much-needed oxygen to ruminate.

Regardless, I seized this holiday – the day of giving thanks — as a convenient excuse to do something I’m certain I personally ought to be doing more of throughout the year: being grateful and reflecting on what gratitude actually means.

Finding the Time to Consider Gratitude

Recently, I’ve carved out the luxury of little bits of time, something that very recently either felt out of reach or that I did not stretch far enough to grasp.  This newfound and hopefully less fleeting joy has further afforded me the opportunity to reflect.

Reflection, by the way, is a wonderful thing.  Regardless of whether you are examining the “good” or the “bad”, processing is something we humans need to do.  And I don’t know about you, but this human needs to do more of it.  After the autumn I’ve had — whereupon my head had become a traffic jam the likes of which they have in China that takes 20 days to clear — this reflection is most welcome. Each passing day reaffirms this more then the previous.

During this reflection, I’ve had ups and downs that shall serve as fodder for another discussion entirely.  I have also realized something.  I have so much to be thankful for, yet sometimes the panels of my life story flip by so quickly that I don’t take the time to sit with it and take stock of what I could be grateful for.

Gratitude is not a time-intensive exercise. It’s a choice to allocate a slot of time however narrow to simply look around.

So where did I find the time to reflect on gratitude?  I made it.

Gratitude Defined

To that end, a definition.  I tell you, there’s a bit of variation out there regarding the meaning of the word gratitude.

“Readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

“Thankfulness”

Applied Gratitude

Gratitude, it appears, is an art.

At its most basic, the definition of gratitude seems all about gifts and givers, about merit undeserved.  Underneath this perspective is the idea that gratitude is about being thankful for something specific, to someone specific be they living or not.

But it seems to me that the art of gratitude is about entire package of not just saying thank you to other people, but being thankful for what is — stepping back for big things and small and appreciating the whole.

Which raises a question: can you be grateful without uttering a word to another soul?  I’d like to think so.

But I will not fool you, or sell the effort of gratitude short.  Gratitude takes some work. A life’s work, you might say.

Gratitude: Good for the General Us

Practicing gratitude, it’s good for others too.  Collateral benefit you might say. Even directionless, gratitude into the ether acts like a cosmic air freshener.  Think about it as ammunition in the battle against ill will.

Gratitude lays a foundation for things like generosity, sharing, and contentment – and the continual learning and re-learning of what that means.

I don’t know where it comes from or even why it is that I feel gratitude around certain people and in certain situations. I am simply thankful that it I do – and that it is.

The Flip Side

The foil of gratitude, expectation or entitlement, suggests “Why should I be thankful when I actually deserve this?”

Beware the assumption of what you should have.  There exists a real danger behind that entitlement: disappointment.   So much of our existence, our sense of happiness and satisfaction is a function of our expectations.  And these days, it seems like we are taught more and more to begin with an astoundingly high baseline.

Being grateful for what is, all things big and small, helps keep our expectations in perspective.

My Gratitude

So, I am grateful.

I am grateful to all our friends out there who sent so many kind comments about concern for our well being, whether it was connected to frightening flights, crazy buses or the volatile situation in and around Kashmir and Ladakh.  Travel can teach us many things in all manner of ways, and one of the greatest lessons is that we ought to be truly grateful.

I’m grateful for opportunities to see and experience things — astonishingly beautiful things — in such volume that I might well be tempted to take them for granted, which I am afraid I sometimes do.

Finally and most importantly, I am thankful for friends and for family.  And to know at any moment that they and the people they care about are well.

If you have trouble focusing on gratitude, close your eyes and be still.  Maybe it’s before or after your Thanksgiving meal, or maybe even during.  And sit for a moment with what is.  Take it in.  Then allow your gratitude to seep into the ether.  Maybe you’ll even feel it come right back to you.

—-

That’s my piece on gratitude.  I’m grateful that you took the time to read this article and even more grateful that you made it this far.

So, Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate it.  Happy Hanukkah, too.  Or Thanksgivukkah, if you don’t find the name appalling like I kinda do.

Now go eat that turkey (or tofurky) or whatever you choose, even if you choose to fast and eat nothing at all.  I’m grateful you have the choice.

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Tempelhof: The Yin and Yang of an Abandoned Airfieldhttp://uncorneredmarket.com/tempelhof-the-yin-and-yang-of-an-abandoned-airfield/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/tempelhof-the-yin-and-yang-of-an-abandoned-airfield/#comments Fri, 30 Aug 2013 10:33:21 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=13834 By Daniel Noll

If you’ve ever known that pang of sadness on the longest day of the year or the faintest glimmer of hope on its shortest, this is for you. If you’ve ever pondered cycles and the tricks of the seasons, that too. It was early August heat wave. Audrey and I were returning home on bicycles […]

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By Daniel Noll

Open spaces, long horizon. A gaze, a beer, a sunset. A space 100 acres larger than New York's Central Park. Old Tempelhof Airport. A Berlin silhouette.
A day comes to an end at Tempelof Field.

If you’ve ever known that pang of sadness on the longest day of the year or the faintest glimmer of hope on its shortest, this is for you. If you’ve ever pondered cycles and the tricks of the seasons, that too.

It was early August heat wave. Audrey and I were returning home on bicycles from a late-afternoon-turned-evening gathering with friends, a craft brew and food festival just a few miles away. The sun nearly finished setting. We were just passing the final light of day. Along our path, we approached the western end of Tempelhof Airport, the airfield that was the site of the Berlin airlifts in 1948-49 and had remained open until 2008.

Now it stood empty – but not entirely so, for it had thankfully been turned into a public space, Tempelhof Park. Especially when the weather is fair, people turn out in droves to take it in – to picnic, to create, and to work all manner of wheeled and wind-propelled devices whose enjoyment requires open space.

Let’s see if we can still get in,” I said to Audrey as she passed alongside me, casting night shadows.

After dark, the airport is usually closed.

But not this time.

We turned our bicycles into a narrow entrance and there was the old airport before us. I rolled over a few chunks of broken tarmac until the wide strip of 9L/27R, its main runway almost 2100 meters long, smoothed ahead of me.

2000 Meters

As I peddled faster, I picked my body up and I could feel a gathering rush of warm air. I drank in the summer. Sheets of heat lightning broke high in the darkness, but rain was no threat. All manner of warmth — like a blanket of goodness — washed over me.

Warm days are wonderful, but there’s nothing quite like the weight of a warm night. Anywhere — but here especially — it feels to me like something that maybe shouldn’t be. But when it is, I take it in.

This is joy, pure and unadulterated.

1500 Meters

Amidst the runway tar strips, I caught flickers of light from other bicycles. We weren’t the only ones with the idea of enjoying an empty airfield on a warm night. Others were still here. And I wondered if any of them were thinking what I began to think:

A warm wind, once a cool wind.

1000 Meters

I could see boyfriends and girlfriends wrapped in blankets, embracing.

I wondered if they’d been there all day long. Friends in t-shirts, long days, the haze of freshly poured beer.

My mind began to wander to so many moments on this runway, through the exchange of seasons. I had experienced Berlin just enough to see and feel each one. Summer to winter, and the in-betweens.

Autumn Days at Tempelhof Park - Berlin
A perfect autumn day at Tempelhof

The movement of seasons is something beautiful and complex. It hearkens to death and rebirth. But it’s not so straightforward. It plays tricks. For on the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice, we’re told we have the entire summer ahead of us, yet the days will become shorter. On that day, I feel just a little sad amidst all that light. And on the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice, we’re told we have the entire winter ahead of us, yet the days will become longer. On that day, I feel just a little upbeat amidst all that darkness.

500 Meters

I could see the end of the runway and the little hill that rolls up to the edge of my neighborhood, a cache of life called Schillerkiez.

The seasons would change. And it would be winter once again right on this very spot. And I will feel it then, too. I’ll jog these runways and when I do, I’ll take in their stillness, the silence, the peace, and the solitude. The cold, the biting wind also. For there’s something oddly beautiful in all that, too.

I might also think back to a warm summer night when I could cycle across it in the dark, with a warm breeze washing over me.

0 Meters

I pulled up off the runway and into the neighborhood. There was great life as people hung out open windows and spilled out from restaurants and bars into the streets. Even from the local Turkish taxi driver men’s club.

I wondered where they all would be several months from now, in winter, at this very moment, at this time of night.

—-

In the change of seasons, there’s a balance, an exchange.

I sometimes wonder what makes us alive. I hope we all do. This wonder gives us a platform for gratitude – for what is, for what was and what remains, in cycles.

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Channeling the Spirit of the Marathon: Hope Going Forwardhttp://uncorneredmarket.com/boston-marathon-spirit-hope-going-forward/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/boston-marathon-spirit-hope-going-forward/#comments Tue, 16 Apr 2013 15:08:40 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=13191 By Audrey Scott

Pump your arms, your legs will follow… — Marathon advice. Life advice? As I struggle to process what happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday, I wonder: “How is it that we humans invest so much energy in our own destruction?” Then I consider what’s at the heart of the spirit of marathons, and the reasons […]

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By Audrey Scott

Berlin Marathon - Young Fans
Young fans at the Berlin marathon

Pump your arms, your legs will follow…

— Marathon advice. Life advice?

As I struggle to process what happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday, I wonder: “How is it that we humans invest so much energy in our own destruction?

Then I consider what’s at the heart of the spirit of marathons, and the reasons why crowds of people were gathered at the finish line in the first place. Through this process, I attempt to restore some of my lost hope in humanity, because I believe if we lose that marathon spirit, that’s when we’ve really lost.

Marathons and the Human Spirit

I have an oddly emotional relationship with long-distance races considering that I’m not an avid runner, that I’ve never once run a race.

Dan introduced me to the world of running. I remember cheering him on during a hailstorm at the Prague Marathon 9 years ago. We have friends who are runners, some of whom we cheered on less than ten days ago at the Berlin Half Marathon. I’ve stood out in all shades of weather along the edge of race courses. What’s most remarkable, though, is that I find myself cheering my heart out for people I’ve never laid eyes on in my life and will likely never see again. I’ve fought back inexplicable tears and emotions watching complete strangers pursue their potential, wage their struggles.

I know I’m not alone. If you’ve ever been to one of these races, you probably know what I mean.

Dan tells a story of a spectator who ran beside him for a couple of blocks in Prague when he’d clearly hit the wall around mile 23. The supporter clapped his hands and offered advice for marathons and life the world over, “Pump your arms, your legs will follow.”

Why on earth would someone do this?

Because self-destruction be damned – this too, is the human spirit.

Boston Marathon: Bombs, Stories of Hope

When I heard the news yesterday about how bombs targeted the finish line of the Boston Marathon, my view of humanity took a hit. How could anyone deliberately target something built of goodness, of kindness — an event that exemplifies people working together, cheering on strangers, celebrating hard work and potential?

Clearly, those bombs were not only meant to harm a large group of people, but also to wipe out our spirit.

Not long after the incident, however, stories of hope emerged. Of people helping people. Of runners continuing to run after 26 miles — not only to finish but also to make it to the hospital to give blood. Of people bringing blankets and food, of people placing their names on a list to open their homes to runners needing shelter.

Every time I think we’re down for the count, I find an overwhelming resilience in humanity. It’s one that finds energy in the collective effort it takes to pick ourselves back up, to help and support each other. Perhaps I’m buoyed by the concept that the greatest measure of who we are is not in how we respond to the favorable wind, but how we respond in times of difficulty.

Amidst all the questions surrounding what happened in Boston yesterday afternoon, I want to shine a light on that spirit, the marathon spirit, the spirit for all long roads ahead.

Channeling the Spirit of the Marathon: Five Lessons

What is it about marathons that stir my emotions? No matter where, they are infused with the best of what the human spirit has to offer. Hope, support, potential: we celebrate the effort and achievement of not only the people we know, but also the people we don’t.

Consider the beauty of this. And recognize how these lessons learned might apply to everyday life. In this way, I wish that every day could be race day.

1) Cheer people you don’t know.

For some reason, walls come down on race day and we have no inhibitions cheering on someone we don’t really know, some of the same complete strangers we might otherwise disregard or avoid. We look someone we don’t know in the eye, and we want – no, almost will – them to keep going, to do better. We create connections, however fleeting, and lasting good will. We may never see each other again. But that’s OK; the impression of that moment remains.

Don’t go blindly, but beware of putting up walls that prevent us from celebrating one another and lending a helping hand when it’s needed.

2) Defy stereotypes.

The runners that often bring me to tears are the atypical ones, the unlikely suspects. Perhaps the 65 or 75-year-old man (or woman) who demonstrates that activity and goal setting need not end as we grow older.

Or there’s the middle-aged woman who does not look the role of prototypical runner. You know she has poured hundreds of hours into training, likely juggling a job, kids and other commitments, to run and finish.

That’s determination. And if that isn’t inspiration, I don’t know what is.

Imagine if we all did something a little different than what we “should” do?

3) Push the boundaries.

So many people running marathons are people who never imagined “..that they could ever do it.” That they were capable of such endurance, perseverance. They allowed themselves to dream, and perhaps they had the support of others in that dream. Marathons often shed light on that great expectation of life, our potential.

What thing seems so far off right now that maybe shouldn’t be?

4) Celebrate hard work.

As we all know, dreaming is not the same as doing. People prepare themselves for months on end for every type of race. They navigate commitments, aches, pains, ice packs and days when they feel they cannot move. But when they are out on that course, we celebrate their discipline and the effort that brought them there to the start and will carry them to the finish.

Hard work shouldn’t be a bad word; it’s something we should celebrate in light of accomplishment, and for its own sake.

5) Build personal and shared motivation.

On one level, long-distance races are an individual sport — each runner works with and against himself only. But those crowds of supporters – other runners as well as those on the sidelines – are the magic sauce of motivation that alter a seemingly obvious equation. This is not zero sum. Their presence is good for each and for all of us as a whole.

We can indeed be greater than the sum of our parts.

Even though I didn’t know anyone injured or killed in yesterday’s blast, I still feel devastated, particularly as my thoughts go to the people impacted and their families. This was deliberate destruction brought to the foot of what should only have been a joyous and hopeful event.

As we pick up and reassemble the pieces as best we can, maybe we can use the spirit of the marathon as a guide — good will, community, and perseverance — for how we respond to tragedies like this.

As we pump our arms, so too our legs will follow.

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17 Things to be Thankful for in 2012http://uncorneredmarket.com/17-things-to-be-thankful-for-in-2012/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/17-things-to-be-thankful-for-in-2012/#comments Mon, 31 Dec 2012 09:50:58 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=12433 By Daniel Noll

This is a year-end journey of appreciation and reflection. Of lessons and learnings. Of people and places. Just a thought. If you don’t already perform some kind of reflection exercise at the end of each year, give this one a try: Take 30 minutes and go month by month through the year, jotting down whatever […]

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By Daniel Noll

Photo session under a skeleton tree, Douro Valley, #Portugal #tbupor
Audrey photographs the Douro Valley in Portugal, one of the many places I’m thankful to have visited this year.

This is a year-end journey of appreciation and reflection. Of lessons and learnings. Of people and places.

Just a thought. If you don’t already perform some kind of reflection exercise at the end of each year, give this one a try: Take 30 minutes and go month by month through the year, jotting down whatever you remember doing or accomplishing, be it something as grand as a life event or something as seemingly inconsequential as a concert you attended. These things will spur more memories.

And when you’re done, think on the list. Maybe you’ll find that you did much more during the year than you imagined, perhaps sometimes you’ll find that you accomplished less than you’d hoped. Regardless of how it all shakes out, a simple exercise like this can help you take stock of your year and position you for the next.

Funny thing, year-end navel-gazing. It seems to begin earlier and earlier each year. It used to be that it happened in the final week, then it crept in just before Christmas, then before the end of Hanuakkah, if indeed that holiday didn’t come too late, then somewhere before the middle of the month. Then, before you knew it, the year-end articles began pouring in somewhere between Thanksgiving and the first of December.

We reserve ours for the closing moments, as a bridge to 2013.

A Little Perspective from a Friend

The other day we ran into an old friend whom we hadn’t seen in a year. At one point, he stepped back and said: “Wow, you’ve traveled a lot this year.”

Really? This was a light travel year for us,” we replied. We didn’t intend to be ironic. Instead, we thought about all the speaking engagements that took the place of some of our more traditional travel adventures.

His comment caused us to pause, to step back and to appreciate our “light travel year,” the privilege of travel and our lifestyle. It also allowed us to realize that some of our biggest – and most difficult – journeys this year were on stage instead of on the road.

Not everything went exactly as planned (it never does and wouldn’t it be boring if it did?), but I’m thankful for a number of things — both planned and unplanned — that happened this year. Here are just a few, anchored by destination.

Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca Cathedral - Oaxaca, Mexico
Oaxaca Cathedral as the day turns to night.

First, I suppose I’m thankful to have escaped winter yet again and gone to Mexico, a place that although I know I’m not supposed to take for granted, I probably did. And Oaxaca helped me undo that. That little town, with its artsy mid-mountain feel served as a bit of a grounding force and helped us accomplish a bunch that helped put the rest of the year on its interesting footing.

Further still, I am thankful to have survived the earthquake. When the walls shook, there was a moment where I for a split second thought walls are not supposed to dance like this. Thankfully, the walls only wobbled so much and we had a chance to see those same walls another day.

Egypt

Young Egyptian Woman - Tunis Pottery Village, Egypt
Young Egyptian woman at Tunish Pottery Village.

To know the importance of people. In Egypt, we presented at the UNWTO Tourism and Media conference. The fascinating turn at the end of the presentation was our focus on Egypt and its strength, which it so often seeks to avoid highlighting — its people. This would be the first of many times during the year where we would highlight the importance of people to just about every activity, marketing and social media included.

Japan

Dan holds the Fugu (blowfish) - Osaka, Japan
Thankful to hold a blowfish (fugu) in Japan.

I’m thankful to have seen Japan. This country is so storied. During our visit, I felt like we soaked it up, lock, stock and sake barrel. The culture of respect and courtesy is something I will never forget. Oh, and our crazy eating culinary out in Osaka which featured eating – and holding – blowfish (fugu).

Vancouver

Laughing Statues, A-mazing Laughter - Vancouver, Canada
Laughing Statues, A-mazing Laughter – Vancouver, Canada

I’d always wanted to visit and now I had my chance as part of the Future of Tourism event coordinated by G Adventures. Prior to this, the largest audience we’d spoken to numbered about 150-200. This time, we were up to 500. The theme was technology and tourism, but we brought in people. Ugh, again? Yep, again because that’s where it’s at. Oh, and tying principles and ideas together with story. People and story. Yes.

Miami

Old Church St. Amtrak Station, Orlando - love the old Spanish mission style #train
Taking the train from Orlando to Miami.

I’m thankful to have been given a standing ovation even before I began speaking. And I now understand that it’s unfair to receive praise before you’ve earned it. And, I’m thankful also to have had the opportunity to visit my parents in Orlando.

Denver

Beer Ski Shots at Loveland Pass - Colorado
Beer Ski Shots at Loveland Pass, Colorado

I’m grateful to have been one mile high, then two miles high and still have maintained my composure. Or so I thought.

Seattle

Seattle Skyline at Night
Seattle Skyline at Night

I’d always wanted to visit. Many memorable little bits in this Pacific Northwest hub, including holing away in a yurt on Bainbridge Island. Yes, a yurt in a defunct hippie community. There are indeed fascinating properties on AirBnB. Oh, and the red couch (thanks, Pam!). I felt like I was part of something. A movement, maybe? Or perhaps I was just part of the furniture.

Portland

Grateful to visit another of the great Pacific Northwest outposts. We laughed with friends on the 4th of July, only to be delivered to the WDS conference and nearly collapse on stage in front of an audience of 1000 people. It was terrific. A moment we only hope to build on. Again, the theme, people. We told our stories to a certain degree, but we really felt like we were in the groove when our tale served as the conduit for the stories of others.

Paris

Dinner at Le Felteau - Le Marais, Paris
Audrey’s birthday dinner at Le Felteau in Le Marais, Paris

I am grateful to have been able to stay in an exceptionally posh pad at the Shangri-La Hotel for Audrey’s birthday, down a delightful magret de canard at a biker bar-cum-tiny bistrot called Le Felteau in Le Marais and turn my feet raw from three days of walking this truly fabulous city. By the way, should Audrey and I ever open a restaurant, we’ll feature chalkboard menus. Promise.

Porto, Portgual

Mediterranean morning, laundry landscape in Porto, #Portugal #flashback
Laundry landscapes in Porto, Portugal.

I am grateful for laundry. Not my own laundry (hell, no!), but for the laundry of others because it serves as evidence of the enduring beauty in the seemingly mundane. Oh, and for the discovery of port tonic cocktails in the terraced hills of Douro Valley.

Monterey, California

A walk on the beach, Central Coast #California
A walk on the beach, California’s central coast.

I’m so grateful to have returned to the scene of the crime, fifteen years on. And, thankful to have met so many inspiring yet grounded people working all over the world in responsible tourism at the ESTC conference.

Washington, D.C.

Grateful to round out the visit at the UN Foundation-backed GSTC conference with a few more visits to family. Yes, for us these family stops are spread far and wide; we appreciate the moments we have together.

Amsterdam

Getting our swans in a row, near Amsterdam's Nieuwmarkt
Getting our swans in a row, near Amsterdam’s Nieuwmarkt

Thankful to return to a place that always delivers – canals, water, and romance in the Venice of the North. Oh and surprisingly great street art.

London

Dickens and Our Diamond Queen - London #streetart, Brick Lane to Spitalfields
London Street Art

It had been almost 10 years since we’d spent any time in London and it was a fun trip down memory – and Brick – lanes. London, one of the world’s great cities has a style all its own. Where else on earth can you find a subway station named Elephant & Castle. Boom.

Nicaragua

Audrey with a Local Nicaraguan - Morgan's Rock
Laughter in Nicaragua

Not only am I thankful for beaches in winter, but I’m also thankful for the perspective those beaches and warmth bring. For us, our visit was perfect timing. It also emphasized, perhaps for one last time in the year, that while our work may take us to marketing, promotion and social media, the real questions and the real difference to be made in this life lie in the people.

Berlin

Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market - Berlin, Germany
Getting into the Christmas spirit in Berlin.

For a little taste of home for the holidays. An image of a Christmas tree, gluhwein and eierpunsh, Christmas markets, and friends. Oh, red pleather pants and fire-breathing Chippendale dancers, too. Don’t ask.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Mystical and shrouded,  #Edinburgh Castle #blogmanay
Mystical and shrouded, Edinburgh Castle

I’m grateful to close out the year in a city I’ve wanted to visit for ages, but had always eluded me for one reason or another. It’s not only a beautiful city filled with legend and mood at every corner or small alley, but I’m thankful for people like Dave at the Scotch Whisky Experience who, in a few minutes, shared his over 30-years of experience working in whisky and weaved together a story about Scotland, bourbon and sherry casks (used for aging scotch whisky), smoky and vanilla flavors, how to match a whisky to the weather and mood, and why we shouldn’t be afraid to put a tiny bit of water in whisky to really understand it. And the beautiful thing is this: his spirit and passion is not an anomaly here in Edinburgh.

Our Hogmanay New Year’s celebrations began last night with the torchlight procession through Edinburgh’s old town. I have a feeling that I’ll have much more to be thankful for before the clock strikes midnight tonight (hello? Simple Minds and fireworks!) and we ring in the new year.

What things are you thankful for in 2012? Feel free to share one or many, or just do this exercise on your own.

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Six Years on the Road: A Journey Becomes Lifehttp://uncorneredmarket.com/six-year-travel-anniversary/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/six-year-travel-anniversary/#comments Fri, 14 Dec 2012 19:41:23 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=12356 By Daniel Noll

We just celebrated. An anniversary. Six years. On the road. Why am I addicted to sentence fragments? Anniversaries, they help mark time. They remind us to remind ourselves to admire our arc, our path through the world in time. No, not to admire it in some self-satisfied way, but to admire that there’s a process […]

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By Daniel Noll

We just celebrated. An anniversary. Six years. On the road. Why am I addicted to sentence fragments?

Celebrating our 6-year anniversary on the road, with a break, a bench, a #sunset
Celebrating our 6-year anniversary on the road in Nicaragua — with a break, a bench, a sunset.

Anniversaries, they help mark time. They remind us to remind ourselves to admire our arc, our path through the world in time. No, not to admire it in some self-satisfied way, but to admire that there’s a process of growing, changing, evolving, and continually understanding that our lives are portions of an unbroken circle connecting all the dots of who we’ve become. Anniversaries invite us to step back to view the path we’ve helped to unfold — a path that takes us from where we’ve been to where we are, all peppered with hints and imaginations of where we would hope to go.

This particular anniversary of six years passed almost without notice. “How could that happen?!” you ask?

Our response? Life. You find yourself putting together a workshop on a Nicaraguan beach, and believe it or not, you can get a little lost. Then you look up from your cup of coffee one morning and think, wait a minute, didn’t we leave a pork butt behind in Prague six years ago yesterday?

Yes, six years. Sometimes it feels like just a few days, sometimes it feels well beyond several lifetimes. You know how that feels, I’m sure.

Audrey and Dan having Drinks by the Beach - Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand
The salad days of our journey: Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand in December, 2006

When we set off, we’d imagined 12-18 months. You could say we miscalculated, just a spec. We’ve made decisions, had discussions — some might even call them arguments (yes, we are human) — and our approach and the “why” is continually reaffirmed from within and from without.

What does that mean?

I suppose the inner compass, with all its confusions and magnetic pulls in occasionally unproductive directions, always brings us back to making our way through the world in a manner that brings meaning, meaning that is continually and surprisingly reflected back to us by others.

A Little Perspective in Three Stories

Story #1

In Nicaragua, a colleague and newfound friend commented, “When we die, when we leave this Earth, we can’t take our stuff with us, we can only take our experiences, our memories.” You might say there’s no checked bags or carry-ons when we leave this life. Thank you for your spirit, Selena.

Story #2

On our flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam, around hour 14 of a monster travel day, we had the good fortune to sit next to a retired career American serviceman on his way back to Afghanistan as a private contractor. He would be away from his wife and children. This was profoundly difficult, I can only imagine. It’s Christmas after all.

In any event, he’d seen so much, yet still so much struck him wide-eyed. We told him of what we’d seen and felt during so many of our trips. But when we mentioned visiting Iran last year, his eyes really opened and his jaw dropped ever so slightly. He almost hesitated to ask, “How was it? What happened?”

We shared a few stories, from the continual invitations from ordinary Iranians we met on the streets to the incredible kindness we experienced on the train from Iran to Istanbul. I even pulled out my iPhone and showed a few photos of the architectural jewels of Shiraz and Esfahan.

The world is sometimes not as we’re told it is,” he said, continually tilting his head in wonder, shaking his head in disbelief. Thank you, Will – for your service and for reaffirming for us so much about what can be right in this world.

Story #3

Finally, on just about every turn of this journey, thanks to the unnamed many who shed continual light on our good fortune with sentiments like this: “Six years, you must have been everywhere.”

Well, no. We haven’t been everywhere. And even if we had, there’s always something left on the table, notwithstanding all the changes undergone by places we’ve visited since we’ve visited them.

We thank every one of the people who echo this sentiment and remind us that there’s always more to explore and learn. They reaffirm that it’s always a good idea to unpack, if only to take a moment to take stock of what you have and what you’ve done, what remains and why you’re doing it all.

Perhaps most importantly, they imply that we should never take anything for granted.

Looking to Year Seven

Six years ago, words like “digital nomad” and “professional blogger” weren’t really in our imaginations, much less our lexicons. So our “journey” has become more than one of just travel; it has become our life, our lens, our business. Our imaginations are stretched by what is and what could be. Honestly, it can feel intimidating at times.

So what do you do when a journey and its various pieces come together as one? Recently, we took a private look back to the very beginning and reflected on why we got started on this journey in the first place to guide us — to the themes of exploration, continual learning, stories, meaning and creativity.

The world and all the things we learn, they all take time. They are delivered to us at their own pace. And if we rush too much, we run the risk of missing the little things.

Likewise, if we just wait for things to happen, they may never do so.

Independent of the results, life as a process is pretty fascinating.

And just in case you are wondering: I am addicted to sentence fragments because sometimes you have to unpack and take apart what you have in order to understand what you’ve built.

It’s with this spirit that we begin our seventh year of this journey. A year we hope is one of continued surprises, shared lessons and good stories.

Thank you for being part of it.

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Travel and Your Values: The Power of Deliberate Spendinghttp://uncorneredmarket.com/travel-values-deliberate-spending/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/travel-values-deliberate-spending/#comments Mon, 19 Nov 2012 07:51:42 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=12205 By Audrey Scott

A few dollars here, a few dollars there. Does how you spend your money when you travel really matter? Is it possible to align your travel approach and spending decisions with your values? In the first part of this series, The Importance of People in Travel, we explored the relationship between people and the travel […]

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By Audrey Scott

Goofing Around in Tarija, Bolivia
Goofing with local kids having breakfast in Tarija, Bolivia.

A few dollars here, a few dollars there. Does how you spend your money when you travel really matter? Is it possible to align your travel approach and spending decisions with your values?

In the first part of this series, The Importance of People in Travel, we explored the relationship between people and the travel experience and we spoke of serendipity and human connections. In this segment, we talk deliberate decisions and the potential impact of our travel purchases on the communities we visit, and on the world.

One Billion Travelers

The U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) projects that more than one billion people will cross borders for the purposes of tourism in 2012.

Think about it: one billion!

Particularly in the developing world, the potential of travelers to positively impact local communities through their tourism dollars is huge. But so is the risk of tourism development done poorly, running rampant over local cultures, local economies and the environment.

The upshot: Tourism can absolutely be a force for good, but it may also be a force for harm. Anything of such magnitude can cut both ways.

The beauty is that we travelers have a choice: we have the power to vote with our feet, to exercise the power of the purse.

Note: In September we spoke at two sustainable and ecotourism conferences (ESTC and GSTC). Earlier this year we spoke at G AdventuresThe Future of Tourism on interconnection between travel, technology, humanity and sustainable tourism. Our own words and the reaction of conference-goers underscored the grounding force in our approach to travel and the focus of our work within the tourism industry: people.

This is the second part in a series in which we focus on the connection between how travelers can align their purchasing decisions with their values and have an impact on local communities. If you missed the first part of the series, check out Tourism, It’s the People’s Business.

The Power of Travelers’ Choices

First, to the cynics. It’s easy to dismiss the weight of our purchasing decisions like our votes in political elections, to say “it doesn’t matter,” particularly in the face of our ever-busier lives. Who has time to figure it all out, after all? We can’t answer that second question — it’s up to you. But what we choose to do and how we choose to do it does matter, particularly in the aggregate.

To prove this to yourself, try an exercise. Go back through your travel memories and think about a local shopkeeper or food vendor from whom you bought something. Anywhere. Then tell me your purchase didn’t matter to them. It’s small, arguably, but it matters. Then take that effect and amplify it through all decisions and purchases — and understand that’s how the world of tourism ends up the way it does, for better or for worse.

Street Food in Srimongal Market - Bangladesh
An impromptu local snack on the streets of Srimongal, Bangladhesh

A friend recently asked after hearing us speak about making travel decisions: “Do you really make conscious decisions about where to spend your money?

We do, but it’s not always easy.

There are the in-the-moment decisions on the ground that speak to an approach to travel and spending money locally. Then there are the decisions made, often in planning, of booking travel services and experiences. Both are an exercise in deliberate spending.

Spend Locally, Connect Locally

We think back to that visit to Myanmar (Burma). Because of a conscious decision to visit the country at that time, we were exceptionally cautious regarding where our money went during the visit. Why? Our goal was to put as much money in the hands of local people while keeping it out of the hands of the junta government.

We deliberately chose small, family-run places to stay and have meals. We tried to visit as many shops and restaurants as possible to spread around the money we’d spent. As a consequence of this approach, we met and connected with so many people, we listened to their stories and we came away not only with memorable experiences, but also ones that continue to inform our view of the country as its current sociopolitical events unfold. When we talk about Myanmar, we share the stories of people we met more than we’ll ever wax long about its stunning gilded Buddhist stupas.

Burmese Woman Trying Not to Laugh - Mandalay, Burma
A waitress at a local restaurant in Mandalay does her best not to laugh…at us.

The concept here is fundamental: when you spread your travel resources around with a focus on the community you are visiting, the more that community benefits. Perhaps that seems obvious, perhaps not.

More subtle is this: your experience will also be the better for it.

Spending and connecting locally is not only about feel-good altruism, but it can also heighten and improve your overall travel experience. Ethical, responsible travel is no longer a zero sum game. We don’t have to give up anything to get something more.

Smoked Bat Vendor - Bagan, Burma
A lesson in smoked bats in Bagan, Burma.

The reward is built-in. And isn’t that what we’re after?

Aligning Values with Travel Spending Decisions

The impact of our travel decisions on local economies and individual people is not only about spending money in local shops and in locally owned accommodation. It’s about voting with our feet, rewarding good product and making deliberate decisions, like choosing tours and travel experiences that reflect our values.

If technology has enabled nothing else, it has flooded us with options and information to sift through that can inform — and at times complicate and confuse — our choices. Information is a good thing, but too much of a good thing can easily overwhelm, making us feel like it’s impossible to separate the signal from the noise.

Technology now allows us to read reviews, ask questions directly of companies, and connect with past customers, even in real time. By no means is this travel feedback loop foolproof, but our growing access to information provides us with more transparency and a better ability to evaluate our options and find the ones that work best in terms of our desired experience.

We recall, several years ago, searching for companies to climb volcanoes with in Nicaragua. We had ample choice of tour companies in Leon, one of the setting-off points for Nicaragua’s volcano hikes. Through social media, we found and opted to hike with Quetzal Trekkers. Their tours featured comparable options to others and were similarly priced, but 100% of the profits funded a school to support street kids. That made the difference for us, and because of that, that’s where we chose to put our money. The personal satisfaction of scaling volcanoes was rounded out by knowing that the money we spent would go to help local street kids.

Hikers Take A Break - El Hoyo Volcano, Nicaragua
Climbing volcanoes in Nicaragua with Quetzal Trekkers, where 100% of profits goes to support a school for street kids.

Similarly, when we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania last year with G Adventures, we had a lot of support, as in at least three people per climber. We knew our porters were covered by insurance, wore proper gear, and were members of a fair-wage union for local porters.

Even though we didn’t see everyone who’d helped us ascend, we felt their support every step of the way up the mountain — our stuff was always waiting for us at the next resting stop, filling meals were served each night, everything worked smoothly. And while they were vested in making certain we make it safely to the top of the mountain, they were even more vested in supporting their families and sending their children to school.

Our Kili Porters and Support - Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
All the guides and porters who helped our group get up Mount Kilimanjaro.

Tourism executed responsibly by all involved in the chain strung together by our values, that’s what allows to complete the circle.

Sustainable Tourism: Does It Cost More?

That sustainable tourism must cost more — should cost more — is one of the great false dichotomies in modern travel marketing.

Sometimes it may cost more to get the experience you want, but it doesn’t always have to. All our experiences with horse treks, guides and yurt-stays with Community Based Tourism (CBT) in Kyrgyzstan were of similar price, if not less, than what other companies offered. The difference was that CBT Kyrgyzstan kept the money and training local.

Similarly, there are reports of plenty of “sustainable” safari experiences in Africa that don’t offer an ounce of respect, support or protection to their employees or to animals, but still cost more than comparable tours. This has to make you wonder — where exactly is that money going?

Sometimes, the rationale for the higher price tag is readily apparent. When we were in Bangladesh, it was more expensive to spend the night with a family in a Bangladeshi village as part of a homestay program rather than at a cheap hotel in town. We are as budget minded as it comes in travel, but for the experience, we’re glad to pay a reasonable difference. The rural homestay offered a unique experience whose proceeds supported a young woman’s university education and community classes teaching life skills, professional skills and awareness of environmental impact.

Mehndi (Henna) Night with Girls in Hatiandha, Bangladesh
Girls night in: Henna hands in a Bangladesh village.

This is the tourism win-win.

When we make travel purchase decisions in line with our values (i.e., we know where our money is going and whom it benefits), the resulting experiences are not only ones we feel good about, but also ones that we carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Do you think your travel purchasing decisions can make a difference? How?

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Tourism, It’s the People’s Businesshttp://uncorneredmarket.com/tourism-the-peoples-business/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/tourism-the-peoples-business/#comments Fri, 02 Nov 2012 20:22:20 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=12142 By Daniel Noll

In pursuit of the iconic, sometimes we lose the people. Then we need to come back. Here are a few thoughts on the often overlooked importance of people to travel and the connection between travelers’ experiences, their spending decisions and the impact on the communities they visit. So much ink is spilled, understandably so, on […]

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By Daniel Noll

Burmese Mother and Child - Toungoo, Myanmar
People. That’s what it all comes back to in travel.

In pursuit of the iconic, sometimes we lose the people. Then we need to come back. Here are a few thoughts on the often overlooked importance of people to travel and the connection between travelers’ experiences, their spending decisions and the impact on the communities they visit.

So much ink is spilled, understandably so, on the budget aspect of travel — how much we spend vs. the value we receive – almost to the point of commoditizing every dimension of one’s travel experience.

One bit is often missing in this discussion, however: people. Where do they fit in? How do we value our interactions with them? And ultimately, how can we align our approach and travel spending decisions with a positive impact on the communities we visit?

Before we tackle these questions, a story from Burma.

A few years ago, while visiting Myanmar (a.k.a., Burma) just after the Saffron Uprising, we stopped off at Bagan, a tourist site known for its Buddhist temple-filled plain. We took a nighttime stroll down the town’s main restaurant street in search of dinner. At the time, Bagan was a ghost town — scant traffic, save only for a few waiters milling about, passing time. Lights flickered on and off with rolling blackouts to underscore the moment.

We chose a restaurant, sat down and struck up a conversation with the owner, to whom we remarked of the empty street. He told us that tourist numbers that year had declined nearly 80-90% from the year before due to concerns about recent demonstrations. Then he reflected on his own situation, noting how the economy forced him to close another of his restaurants and let employees go.

In the midst of the silence and strings of holiday lights that hearkened a more festive time, he continued: “From the family running the guesthouse to the man renting bikes down the street, to the restaurant owner to the artist selling sand paintings — you know, tourism is the people’s business.

Yes, tourism is the people’s business. Think about it.

At the time, we understood the restaurant owner’s point on an economic level. When tourism suffers, so do all the ordinary people – and disproportionately so — who own and staff the businesses that serve tourists.

But there’s something more to the statement. It lies in the answer to this question: Where would tourism and travel be without the people?

They are the ones who get us there. They guide us, feed us, house us, interact with us and teach us something along the way.

In this way, too, tourism is the people’s business.

Note: In September we spoke at two sustainable and ecotourism conferences (ESTC and GSTC). Earlier this year we spoke at G AdventuresThe Future of Tourism on interconnection between travel, technology, humanity and sustainable tourism. Our own words and the reaction of conference-goers underscored the grounding force in our approach to travel and the focus of our work within the tourism industry: people.

This is the first part in a series, The Importance of People in Travel, the second part of which will focus on the connection between how travelers can align their purchasing decisions with their values and have an impact on local communities.

But wait. Isn’t travel about beautiful landscapes?

Often yes, but that’s not the whole story. Most of us can admit to daydreaming about travel in the form of stunning landscapes, temples and churches, all delivered with servings of delicious food and perhaps even a touch of pampering. Picture the perfect vacation photo strip.

Low Tide at Sunset - Koh Samui, Thailand
Low Tide at Sunset – Koh Samui, Thailand

But step back for a moment and think about the experiences that are most precious, the stories we’re likely to recall when the trip is long over. It’s those experiences that involve the people we met along the way – perhaps the pregnant Uzbek woman who gave us her lunch, the Czechs who showed us a local pub that the guidebooks never knew about, the Tajik market vendor who gave us a taste of her watermelon, or the Argentine taxi driver who dragged us into a bar to dance all night – that we tell over and over again, that exert an emotional tug on us.

Audrey, Dan and Shashi, Cooking Class - Rajasthan, India
Hanging with Shashi in Udaipur after her cooking class. She taught us to cook Indian food, but learning about her life was the real highlight.

It’s easy, isn’t it, to focus on the destination? But even as we appreciate the journey there, we risk missing the big takeaway – the human takeaway — just as we cross another item off the ‘ol bucket list.

Seeking the Human Dimension of Travel

When we’re asked how we meet and connect with local people everywhere we travel, we admit to having no magic answer. The orientation is pretty simple, though: understand that there are people — engaging people — all around you, many of whom are just as curious about you as you are about them.

Dan Gives an Impromptu Camera Lesson - Near Salta, Argentina
An impromptu slideshow at a gaucho festival near Salta, Argentina.

One thing will always remain true to every reader of this article: you are human.

“Master of the obvious,” you scoff. Maybe, but this fundamental understanding places you one step closer to recognizing the human characteristics we share with people who may appear very different from us on the surface. Go deeper, even in simple conversation, and you just may find that they have stories, too, and life experiences strikingly similar to yours.

Connecting with people while traveling is not about crossing an item off your list that reads “talk with a local today.” It’s about learning from others and sharing of yourself. This can be uncomfortable at first; going outside your comfort zone and questioning hard-packed assumptions often is. But this is the intersection of travel at the crossroads of personal growth.

Audrey Tries Hand at Egyptian Flatbread - Cairo, Egypt
Audrey fools while flipping Egyptian flatbread.

Here’s the rub, though. Many of these connections emerge unplanned and unscripted. They happen spontaneously. It’s not about scheduling time into your travel schedule to “meet people”, but about availing yourself of the opportunities only at the hint that they might exist.

Say what? So how to do that?

Sometimes it’s as straightforward as saying “hello” or asking a simple question — “What is this?” “How do you eat this?” “What is the local word for this?” — to break down that initial barrier. Genuine curiosity and respect will likely help take it from there.

Dan Plays Marbles with the Kids of Rasoun (Jordan)
Dan shows an interest in marbles and ends up in a pick up game with kids in Rasoun, Jordan.

Perhaps it may lead to an impromptu feast in a market in Georgia, English language lessons with Japanese school kids in Kyoto, sharing a Hookah pipe with a group of women in Iran, or being invited to a Cambodian Buddhist wedding blessing ceremony.

We open ourselves to people, to our own humanity, and the possibilities are beyond our own imaginations.

Life is a human exercise. So, too, is travel.

—-

What are your thoughts? How do people factor into your travel experiences?

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We Are All More Connected Than We Thinkhttp://uncorneredmarket.com/we-are-more-connected-than-we-think/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/we-are-more-connected-than-we-think/#comments Wed, 22 Aug 2012 15:55:17 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=11728 By Audrey Scott

This is a short story in the form of a touching email I received recently. It demonstrates how life sometimes comes full circle in odd and delightful ways. When Dan and I recall all the unusual yet universal connections we’ve uncovered throughout our travels and life experiences, we often reflect on how “we’re all more […]

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By Audrey Scott

This is a short story in the form of a touching email I received recently. It demonstrates how life sometimes comes full circle in odd and delightful ways.

When Dan and I recall all the unusual yet universal connections we’ve uncovered throughout our travels and life experiences, we often reflect on how “we’re all more connected than we think.” However, each time we accept this maxim and settle comfortably into its implications, life surprises us once again in an odd, humbling and inspiring way.

A few weeks ago, we’d just arrived in Berlin, fresh off of speaking at the World Domination Summit (WDS) conference in Portland. Then, I received this email. The story just blew me away, but I hesitated to share it, my inner skeptic saying maybe people won’t feel it like I did. But every time I tell the story, listeners are struck.

So it’s time to share the story with you.

The only context I think you’ll need: When Dan and I left for the first chapter of our lives together abroad in November 2001, we moved from San Francisco to Prague. In slimming down to six bags, one of the many items we divested ourselves of was a maroon 1989 Honda Accord hatchback.

dear audrey and dan,

i saw your presentation at the wds conference in portland last weekend. i’m so glad you were chosen as the impromptu speakers because i thought your presentation was phenomenal! so many of your words resonated with me. we are all connected, indeed.

and i have a suspicion you and i are even more connected than we think…

about ten years ago (or maybe more) when i was living in san francisco, i had purchased a used car from a lovely woman. it was a honda accord in maroon color. i didn’t check out too many details of the car because i felt a strong sense of connection with the woman who sold it to me. she said she was moving to prague for an indefinite period of time, and i immediately felt a sense of kinship. i, too, am an avid traveler. when the car purchase was made, i met her husband briefly. he had been reading a book by ken wilber, and i immediately recognized the book.

i always remembered that woman. she left her necklace hanging in the car – it was a round crystal-like piece that shimmered in the sun because of its clear translucent color. at the center, you can see a very subtle “A” inscribed within. it always reminded of the lovely woman, because her name was audrey. after many years after having sold the honda, i kept the necklace with me. it reminded of the lovely woman, and her spirit of luck and grace remained with me. it now sits inside my car, a used diesel volkswagen golf.

after so many years, i believe the wds conference is a very fitting to place to run into the both of you again, if indeed you are the couple i had met in san francisco. i hope to meet again in person soon.

blessings to you both,

vina lustado

We are indeed that couple.

Thank you, Vina for taking time to send this email and for allowing us to publish it. To receive it meant so much to us. It took us back to a very special moment in our lives, when we were in the process of making a rather frightening life leap — moving to a new country without jobs or security of any kind.

That initial leap was the first of many that led us to where we are today.

—-

The lesson? Life is full of coincidence, of course. But well beyond that, if there’s no other reason to be a decent person, it might be this: you’ll make impressions and those impressions will take on a life of their own. They may last longer than you can ever imagine, and maybe they’ll come back to make you smile one day.

We are all more connected than we think.

This, I’m certain, is a good thing.

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A Mother’s Day Slideshow and Message of Peace from Hiroshimahttp://uncorneredmarket.com/mothers-day-slideshow-peace-message-hiroshima/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/mothers-day-slideshow-peace-message-hiroshima/#comments Sat, 12 May 2012 23:11:15 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=11189 By Audrey Scott

For this Mother’s Day, we are in Hiroshima, Japan, the site of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Although the city was once a site of death and destruction beyond what we could ever imagine, the message here now is one of peace. Michiko, our volunteer goodwill guide at the Hiroshima Peace Park, explained […]

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By Audrey Scott

For this Mother’s Day, we are in Hiroshima, Japan, the site of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Although the city was once a site of death and destruction beyond what we could ever imagine, the message here now is one of peace.

Peace reflection and Sadako's statue - Children's Peace Monument, Hiroshima #dna2japan #gadv
>A reflection at the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima.

Michiko, our volunteer goodwill guide at the Hiroshima Peace Park, explained how her mother was a survivor of the atomic bomb. Her mother told her how, as a young girl, she ran through the rubble shortly after the bomb trying to her sister, Michiko’s aunt. Her search was in vain, her sister was dead. Michiko’s voice cracked as she relayed her mother’s stories — of the completeness of the destruction she saw everywhere, of people begging for water on the streets, some literally dying of thirst.

But as Michiko shared the story of what happened to her family in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, she carried an even more important message for all of us today — one of peace. As she explained it, her mother instilled in her that we should all work together for peace, to prevent war, to prevent events like the atomic bomb from ever happening again.

With each mother’s wish for peace in a world that she passes on to her children, we hope we are getting one step closer to a more peaceful world.

So to our mothers who are far, far away from us today, and to all moms out there, we wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day.

Mothers from Around the World

If you don’t have a high-speed connection or you’d like to read the captions, you can view the Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burma (Myanmar), China, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Peru, Thailand, Turkmenistan and Vietnam.

 

Disclosure: Our trip to Japan is provided by G Adventures in cooperation with its Wanderers in Residence program. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

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International Women’s Day Slideshowhttp://uncorneredmarket.com/international-womens-day-photos/ http://uncorneredmarket.com/international-womens-day-photos/#comments Thu, 08 Mar 2012 05:00:33 +0000 http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/?p=10636 By Audrey Scott

Today is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, we share an updated version of our Women from Around the World slideshow. You probably won’t see any of these women on TV or on the covers of magazines (well, maybe someday). Instead, they are the women we meet in markets, on public transport, in the shops that […]

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By Audrey Scott

Today is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, we share an updated version of our Women from Around the World slideshow.

You probably won’t see any of these women on TV or on the covers of magazines (well, maybe someday). Instead, they are the women we meet in markets, on public transport, in the shops that they run, in rural villages, on city streets. They are the everyday human landscape — mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, friends, colleagues — perhaps sometimes overlooked or taken for granted. But look into their eyes, and through life and its challenges, pride prevails.

With the slideshow below, we celebrate the collective spirit of these women and the beauty of their diversity.

Women featured in the slideshow below are from: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burma (Myanmar), China, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, India, Iran, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

International Women’s Day: Women from Around the World Slideshow

If you don’t have a high-speed connection or want to read the captions, you can view the Women from Around the World photo essay.

 

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