I’ve always loved travel, from the 30-minute ride to the next county to the three-leg flight to Eastern Europe. To entertain myself as a child, I would spin a globe, close my eyes and point to a destination. I would then go to the library to investigate. My 80 pound frame struggled with the heavy volumes of the New World Encyclopedia, which seemed like big lead bricks. I spent hours in the library, soaking up information on Lichtenstein, Bombay, Montserrat and everywhere in between. In the pre-digital era, entertainment could be had with a good book, a piece of paper, pencils, globes, and pure imagination.
While I can’t say that I extensively traveled as a child, I was fortunate enough to regularly visit my extended family in Mexico. Going there opened my eyes to the reality of a completely foreign existence to my small town American experience. It was during those trips that my unquenchable thirst for exploration began.
In middle school, students were given the opportunity to connect with children of the same age in distant lands. ‘Pen pals’ they called it. This was an exciting prospect, to get a name I couldn’t pronounce with an address that I had to painstakingly write correctly. I would look outside the window and wait for the mailman to arrive everyday. The anticipation of receiving mail was so exciting! Aah, the days of snail mail. My first pen pal was Mervi, a Finnish girl from a town called Kokkola. I ran to the library to find such a place, a land I never knew existed in my 11 years of wisdom. Finland – a land so far away, so remote, so unimaginable. I wanted to make sure I at least knew where this place was on the map, to know its capital, population, official language, currency (the markka, replaced by the euro), and any other interesting tidbits I could gather.
I began my correspondence with Mervi in 1982, a time where “The Safety Dance” was a temporary anthem, where Pac Man was this intoxicatingly cute little fellow, and where I learned all about Suomi. During my tweens and teens, Mervi and I exchanged correspondence, candy, and pop magazine clippings from our countries. Reading the clippings was a dyslexic haze – way too many consonants oddly juxtaposed to form 35 letter words.* We mailed each other mix tapes – the real kind – 90 minute high quality Dolby cassettes. I had no idea what Finnish bands like Hanoi Rocks were singing about, but I liked it. I enjoyed learning about her culture as much as I enjoyed talking about cute boys and summer dreams.
My dear readers, the time has come for expansion. For those of you who have read my blog, The Hoppy Nomad, you may already know a few things about me - I’m a beer blogger who shares her stories of hops, travels and adventures. While my blog primarily focuses on beer, this tumblr Hoppy Nomad will focus on the places, customs and curiosities of the places I’ve been. While I may not have the mileage that Johnny Cash had, my goal is to sing “I’ve been everywhere, man” and have it be the truth! In the meantime, sit back, fasten your seat belts, tray tables up, and eyes on the announcements! Thank you for traveling with me!