Retired and "Citizen of the World"
by Betty Audet
(Palmerston, ON, Canada)
My husband was a high school teacher and has been retired for 32 years. No he didn't retire before 65; he has lived along time.
At the time of his retirement, our son was still in elementary school for we had not married until my husband was fifty and I was thirty-seven.
The next spring we took our son for his Easter vacation and an extra week to Jamaica and I think he caught the travel bug then, if he did not already have it from the stories of his father's adventures before he was married. I, too, had done a bit of traveling in my younger years.
When our son was in Grade 12, he finished his pre Christmas exams on Dec 3 and we left for Kenya with a brief stop in Swizerland.
My sister and her husband, a community college professor, were doing a community college project there. He visited five of the great parks, including one where he could walk with special permission. After coming home he chose Environmental Science for his major at the University of Guelph.
Once he was off to university, my husband and I began to travel. We had a great advantage, for he spoke five languages and later added three more so that we did not need tour guides and big hotels.
We travelled just above the level of the backpackers and made a point of getting acquainted with citizens of each country.
We began with a month in each of China and Japan for he had spent ten years in China, including the entire Pacific war part in a Japanese war camp. He had not held this against the Japanese and had later spent three years in Japan. The other Asiatic country we loved was Thailand, where we spent six wonderful weeks one year.
Another big trip was six weeks in Italy after my husband taught himself Italian and tried his mastery of it at the nearest Italian Club. One of my former roommates was a music teacher and competition judge in Milan and so we started with our first few days with her, went on to address an Amnesty International group in Brescia and travelled north and south.
One of the funniest things on this trip was in Florence, where my husband and Japanese man walked through the famous gardens singing in Japanese. (I love Florence and this was my second visit there)
Over the years we spent many months in South America and Europe, including three trips to Ecuador, which we came to love.
Eventually I had a fall in Pennsylvania and broke my hip. After that we felt we needed to be with a group in case there was a problem; at this stage we did numerous bus tours and cruises.
Our last big trip was to the Canadian Arctic - Bathurst Inlet, when my husband was 92.
Since then our travel has been limited to Canada chiefly northern BC where our son now lives with his wife and our only grandchild, now just over one.
Wendy: I am so happy to post this to my website -- talk about retirement travel, wow! Thank you so very much!
Unbelievable... especially learning the languages as your husband did (how many go that far)? I'm sure knowing the language gave you both a much better understanding of each culture and it's peoples.
I have published a pen pal newsletter for 19 years now, and I publish both travel and stories from international writers about their countries -- always fascinating.
Once again, thanks so very much!