Sunday, April 29, 2007

Send me somewhere - QUICK! Okay, Planet Earth will do.

It has almost been an entire YEAR since I've left the country, and that makes me cranky. No, Vancouver, BC does not count (although it's lovely, it is just too close to Seattle to be considered "foreign"). It was a year ago that I finally made it to that exotic, off-the-beaten-path destination known as "Europe". That's right. I saved Europe as my second-to-last continent (still have Australia to go). When I first started traveling, in 1994, Europe held very little appeal for me. I figured I'd just make it there when I got too old to travel to third-world countries comfortably. My trip last year was for work, and focused on Spain, Portugal and one stop at the provincially charming St. Malo, France. I LOOOOOOOVED it. Granted, I was traveling uber-first class, on the Sea Cloud II:

I'm positively grateful for the experience, but my long-term memory is failing me and I feel like I haven't been anywhere in YEARS. Right now, the next overseas ticket I have booked is not until October - booooo! Although, it will be Prague & Budapest, and it will be FAB. What to do until then??? I'm watching the Discovery Channel, and vicariously traveling with the film crew of the series "Planet Earth". It's an awesome gig, and I don't have to pack, get visas, or even get off the couch. I missed the narration, explaining the first destination we visited, but it was in some crazy bat cave, where the entire cave floor is covered in hundreds of feet of bat guano. Even in my living room, I feel like putting on some rubber boots and a gas-mask. It looks awfully funky. And covering the guano, are thousands of cockroaches, who apparently dine on the guano. Super gross, and totally fascinating. AND THEN, we were magically whisked out of the nasty bat cave to the Gobi desert in Mongolia. No jet lag whatsoever. Mongolia is on my list of "need to get there!" places, although I do want to be able to stay in huts or something - rather than just in the SUVs that the film crew is using as base camp. After observing the Gobi wild camels, we are off to Africa to watch wild dogs hunting Impala, and lions hunting elephants. This is the part where I have to hit the "Mute" button on the remote, and avert my eyes. "Planet Earth" is a GREAT series, but I am still too much of a wuss to watch everything they film. I need the Discovery Kids version, where they show the hunt right up to the point of the kill, and then cut to a commercial for Play-Doh or something. The part, in tonight's show, that I LOVE is when the film crew rescues a baby Emperor penguin, in Antarctica, who has fallen into a small hole in the ice. In any other region, they make it a rule not to interfere with struggling wildlife (due to the danger of the animals losing their fear of humans); however, Antarctica is one place where humans are not a threat to the penguins, and so the crew could intervene and pull the little guy out to be reunited with his parents. From my couch, I got to be a part of that =) It's not typically the way I like to travel, but at the present time, it's the best I can do. You should come with us next time: Discovery channel - Sundays at 8PM.