My paternal grandma was the first person who got me interested in far-away places and adventure. When I was a little girl she would read my tea leaves whenever I was at her house and let me explore her overflowing books shelves. She taught me to be curious and to seek out beauty. She also introduced me to a little magazine called ‘National Geographic’.
As an adult I have been lucky enough to travel internationally with my other grandmother, ‘Grandma Cow’. Our first trip together was to Los Ayala, Mexico , a couple of hours from Puerto Vallarta.
She was 76 at the time and even though I have always known that she is not a typical ‘old lady’, I was beyond impressed with how great of a travel partner she made.
We drank margaritas on the beach, went salsa dancing (Grandma is a great dancer,) hiked through jungles and across beaches, and flirted with other travelers and locals…all the things that two single gals do when they travel together!
Last year, at almost 80 years old, she came to visit me in Oaxaca, Mexico, and also to my wedding in Cuba a few months later.
Again, she impressed me with her travel attitude and I wanted to share some lessons I have picked up from her.
Aside: Her name is not ‘Cow’ but it is what her first grandson (my brother) called her when he was learning to talk some 40 years ago, (a mispronunciation of her last name), and it stuck.
1. Stay Young at Heart: It has not registered to me that my grandma is in her 80’s. What society portrays as a grandma or someone who is ‘old’ just does not fit. And I love this. I hope to still be adventurous and fun-loving when I have lived the better part of a century. Luckily immaturity runs in the family.
2. Wear Ear Plugs on the Airplane: This is not something that Grandma does that I have picked up from her. Rather, it is a defense method that I have to employ if travelling with her. Despite flying often I am not overly comfortable in an airplane. Grandma is oblivious to this and enjoys sharing her fascination with how such a heavy vehicle with such flimsy wings can stay up in the air. She also likes to announce every little bit of turbulence, in a gleeful fashion, as if it were a little extra surprise that comes with your pretzels.
3. You are never too old to flirt: Why should the young whippersnappers have all the fun? I got quite a kick out of watching old codgers chat up Grandma. And why not? Too many people think that love and attraction is just for the youngsters. Pish posh. Plus her flirting with the ‘señores’ got us some great deals in the markets.
(Some of the codgers weren’t so ‘old’ either!)
4. Use a Mary Poppins bag as luggage: I’m not sure how she does it. She travels with a teeny little bag but somehow brings with her the contents of her house. Everything that she needs is in that bag, and every day she has a new outfit on, no matter how long she is staying. She says it is being ‘organized’. I say it’s a Mary Poppins bag and I would like to know where to get one.
5. Be Open to New Experiences-at any age! Swimming with wild dolphins, hiking to a petrified waterfall, releasing baby sea turtles, zip lining, driving around in Old Havana, exploring pyramids, (not to mention becoming a GREAT GREAT grandma)- these are all things that she did around her 80th birthday.
(Cruising for dolphins).
My grandma is a great example that travel-and life- at any age can be an adventure. It’s all about how you see the journey!
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