Friday, September 10, 2010

Welcome, Jill Richardson!
     My Guest Blogger for this week . . .

Jill and the Three Ladies

I have never depended on the kindness of strangers. Not that I doubt their kindness. It's the 'stranger' part with which I have issues. Given that the last time I took the Myers-Briggs test my introversion rate was off the scale, the whole "approaching people I don't know to strike up friendly conversation" thing is about as appealing to me as approaching a pit bull to negotiate entry to a cult compound in Texas. This can be a distinct disadvantage to a writer, especially one trying to expand into travel writing.

So our recent six-week odyssey to Europe saw me bidding ciao to my husband half way through, leaving our three daughters and me to forge ahead in the three remaining countries in which I could not speak any of the language (unlike the two we had just left) and me stopping to ponder just why I had thought this was such a good idea when I had planned this whole thing. Not only would I miss the man I'd never been parted from for so long in 24 years, but what on earth would I do without him for interface on all the little details and other people we'd have to deal with? It was just "Jill and the three ladies" as our host in Fussen, Germany had referred to us by email, and we were on our own, taking on the rest of the continent.

Four days later. Unexpected Italian transit strike. Lugging our suitcases two miles up and down endless staircases over Venetian canals, I did not feel like we were four intelligent, capable, modern women conquering the world. I would gladly have played faint damsel in distress if any Superman had come along but alas, the only Superman who motored by wanted about 70 bucks to take us to the train station, and even in our exhausted, sweaty state, we knew that was no kind stranger.

The details of how we finally got to our destination that day are not a horror story you want to hear, but it was definitely the worst day of our six weeks. Yet, it was something else as well. It was the day that, with all the comfortable, known plans tossed to the wind, I had to piece together a plan to get us from Point A to Point B, involving talking to a dozen strangers with varying degrees of English, Italian, and vigorous nodding and shaking. Involving hopping on the only trains running that day (very few) and negotiating staying on them until we got to where we needed to be (wherever that now was). Involving the perfect finesses of management skills and whimsical spontaneity that I'm sure would get me hired for top a paying position at National Geographic Travel immediately.
At any rate, the day I got the message--I can do this. If I can do this I can do what it takes for the rest of this trip. And I can get the personal stories it takes to write travel, even if I'd naturally rather walk from Venice to Interlaken than talk to a stranger. Stories naturally happen around people who keep their eyes, ears, and options open. And who, in our case that day, really have no other choice.

Bio: Jill is the mother of three, wife of one, a former teacher, writer, sometimes pastor, speaker, and whatever else she feels like doing when she grows up. She enjoys working with her community theater, her garden, the junior high battle of the books team, and life. She has written two books and a whole truckload of magazine articles. You can read her blog at:

Thanks, Jill, for visiting!

1 comment:

Caroline said...

Great post on your traveling, Jill. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to post!

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