Last night I went over to my friend Karine’s house (not a huge adventure as she lives just on the other side of the village where I live…) to see photos of her recent trip to Thaiti, Easter Island, Chile, Argentina and a peek at Uruguay. I thought it would be a nice way to spend a Sunday evening.

When I arrived I saw that Karine had set up a screen on her roof and we were going to be watching a computer “slide show” out under the stars. Nice! It had been pouring rain all day and around dusk, the sky lifted and left Hong Kong buffered by high clouds, but clear. Karine’s roof has a perfect view of the South China Sea, the Lamma Channel in particluar, and Aberdeen, Pok Fu Lam and Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak. It was lovely.

View from Pak Kok

After drinks and hors d’ouvres the photos started. And they also were lovely. Not to gloss over them, Karine has a great new camera and has done some very cool things with it…. but it was not the photos that got my mind racing, though maybe they started it…

I was struck by the fact that I was surrounded by international people (mostly French and mostly from Versailles oddly enough) on a roof in Hong Kong watching a photo presentation of the South Pacific and South America. Somehow, those facts really took me somewhere.

The feeling of familiarity that washed over me seeing pictures of South America was tangible. I have never been to South America. But, man oh man, do I miss seeing a foreign language that I can read. And I miss all things Latin. For the first time in ages I felt like really hitting the road again. Asia (what little I have seen of it) is cool, and there are a few more places I want to check out… but I would have left for the Americas last night if someone asked me to.

I translated the signs and the markers in the photos… I explained where these places were on planet earth. A surprising number of people have absolutely NO geographic sense or sensibility and that made me laugh since it is supposed to be the Americans who are ignorant in such matters. The humor was not lost on the group. As is the norm, I was one of the only Americans there (2), and I also happened to be the only Spanish speaking geographer there. Color me fantastic!

I walked home listening to the bull frogs which sound like cows and had a little more spring in my step than I had before. I will be back in more familiar foreign territory someday. It will be fabulous. But for now I am still in Hong Kong, surrounded by people from everywhere, who like to do lots of cool things, who know lots of cool things and give me the chance to be cooler for knowing them.

I know someone already wrote a book called A Thousand Places You Have To See Before You Die or some such guide… but I think I will start my own. Having been on four of the seven continents, I have a lot to take care of still, but I think I can do it.

Here is the start of my list:
The Tibetan Plateau
India… I would like to see some in the north, the center and the south
Sri Lanka
Vietnam (I think all three of these – Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam – should be required for all Americans)
Burma – or Myanmar, as you like
Lebanon (where my family is from)
Syria (same as above)
Mesopotamia (but I will wait for things to cool out there for a bit)
The Sinai
South Africa
The Seychelles
Paris in fall
Spain in the spring
Anarctica in the summer
Easter Island
The Galapagos
ALL of South America….

It is a good thing I am so young, eh?

Amanda, Hong Kong