I grew up on a farm in northwest Ohio in a very sheltered childhood during the 1950s. As a child, I poured over the World Book encyclopedia in our dining room bookcase- dreaming of lands beyond. In the safety of home, it was fun to think of faraway places, never considering the challenges involved in going there and more so, living there. My dream to visit Australia peaked my senior of high school, but there were no funds and thus no hope. Travel remained a distant wish.
College Opened My World
Studying journalism in college opened a new world to me – just being on campus and walking around town, meeting all kinds of people, including foreigners. In a sense, the world came to me. I became most intrigued by my introductory anthropology professor who led me into a life of travel. I guess you might say, I married adventure.
I Visited His Village
Before I first visited Liberia, West Africa, where he was a hereditary Mende chief, I knew virtually nothing about it. Recently married and eager to please my husband, I found myself on a jet airliner heading over the Atlantic – soon to be enveloped by two tribes that would be my new in-laws.
To say I was naïve and unprepared is a gross understatement. Each day I was faced with sights and sounds unlike anything I ever heard described in books. The capital city of Monrovia seemed civilized enough but even that was an adjustment. Then we went upcountry where some small children had never seen a white person.
Being carried in a chief’s hammock over the Kamboi Mountain Range was precarious in the midst of great tropical beauty. As we wound our way up, we followed a well-worn foot path through trees towering above. At each stream, I jumped out to nervously walk the log bridge over streams with a steadying Mende hand. As I looked at the line of people walking ahead of me, with their goods on their heads, I felt like I was in a Tarzan movie.
There was much more to come when we reached my husband’s village with guns shooting in celebration. Although I craved adventure, this was much more than I ever imagined or bargained for.
Have you ever gone off the beaten path? Dreamed of faraway lands? Had unexpected surprises and adventures in your life? Lived a different life by reading about it in books? Followed a husband to another country because of military service or his occupation?
I’d love to hear your experience. Let me know!
I Wrote a Book about My Adventures
Want to hear more? After my husband died in 2009, I coped with my grief by writing our love story – Beyond Myself: The Farm Girl and the African Chief.