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Inspiring women travellers: Bernadette, the tell-it-like-it-is traveller

 

Bernadette, "61 years young", tells us about the heart-breaking event that motivated her to become a full-time traveller, and why it's ok to have a moan occasionally. 
 
We're just pleased that someone has stepped in to tell the truth about the aches and pains we all go through on a trip. After all, like life, travel is a bitch sometimes!

"I am 61 years young and have been traveling off and on my whole life, but a friend's sudden and unexpected death from a heart aneurysm at 60 made me sell my home and possessions, retire early and buy a one-way ticket to Belize in October of 2015. Since then, I've lost three more girlfriends under the age of 60 from a variety of causes within 18 months. 
 
The most recent was Sue who died from cancer at the age of 50. She wanted to join me in Zanzibar, but was too ill. Her death hit me much harder than I could have imagined. I had to forego the huge East African music festival I had planned to attend and go north to the beach for a few days to grieve. 
 
So, four girlfriends aged 60 and under, who had life plans are now gone. This is what motivates me to carry on and see the world. I carry their spirits with me every day and hope they are cheering me on. 

“Lesson learned: LIFE IS SHORTER THAN YOU THINK, live it to the fullest every day!”

Everyone keeps telling me how lucky I am to be travelling around the world and I know I am, but not every day is fun and frolics… Of course, it is exhilarating, exciting, educational and more interesting than any job I have ever had. But long-term travel in foreign countries is a lot of work. It can be risky, painful, disappointing and frustrating. I think it's essential to have a good moan (or cry) every now and then - it usually helps me feel better.

Speaking of which, in 14 months of travel through 11 countries I have experienced the following:
 
Physical problems
  1. Two cases of scabies on two continents. The Moroccan were the hardest to kill. I had to spray my naked body from chin to toe with insecticide you use on plants. Then I had to do it AGAIN seven days later to make sure their eggs did not hatch.
  2. Two incidents of chiggers (or some kind of biting ant) tearing up my feet while hiking in sandals in Honduras and Tanzania. They itch for days and I will wear the hiking boots from now on!
  3. A few spider bites, one in Morocco that scared me enough to go to a medical clinic. I knew to take an antihistamine and use cortisone cream and that is what the doctor said. That cost me $20. Plus too many mosquito bites to count…
  4. Teeth: I had an abscessed tooth in Portugal, a cracked crown in Spain and finally had the offending tooth extracted in Morocco.
  5. I've taken three falls, two recently in Arusha, Tanzania with it's broken-up sidewalks. No major injuries, just a lot of band aids and sore hands.
  6. The stye: last week a developed a painful stye on my right eyelid. An Indian pharmacist gave me medicine and it is completely gone now. No doctor bill or prescription needed.
  7. I developed a sciatica nerve problem from a three hour ride through the desert in Morocco (there was no road). It comes and goes now, but reminds me to stay active and avoid hours of long bumpy rides.
  8. Precautions: I've had my hep A and B shots, typhoid and yellow fever vaccinations. I take anti-malarial meds once a week and I have crazy dreams from them. I sleep under a net every night and use spray on my body at sunset.
Financial problems:
  1. My visa was compromised two weeks after I left home and had to be cancelled.
  2. I lost my ATM card in Honduras last year. That was really bad because US banks will not mail an ATM card overseas. Thanks to my wonderful sister and best friend I made it through that ordeal.
  3. Very recently, an ATM machine in Zanzibar kept my card and gave me no money. On a Sunday. I had to wait until Monday to go in the bank to get my card back. Fun!!!!
Yeah, I guess I'm lucky, no stitches or broken bones, and I am living my dream!"