They have traveled all across the globe to countries and territories rarely talked about. But over the weekend members of the Travelers' Century Club landed right here in San Antonio. I might never have known about their exploits except that my St. Louis cousin is a member.
You don't need to check their passports to realize the 115 members of the Texas/Oklahoma chapter have logged plenty of hours in far flung airports. Just ask them to share their stories.
Members of the group are wildly interested in hearing about each others travels because they might just be headed to that corner of the world next. Having studied abroad in Australia and bouncing around to New Zealand and Fiji, plus France, Belize and Costa Rica, I had considered myself well traveled but I don't hold a "passport" to Cynthia Scherbarth.
From Plano, Texas, Cynthia is an avid traveler. "Even at a young age, my mom said I was born with a go bag," said Cynthia and go she has to over 176 countries.
Most recently she visited Norway and Sweden. But for Cynthia the trip that tops her list is her first visit to India. The eye-opening adventure gave her a glimpse into the hardships many are facing across the globe.
"It is just amazing to see the kind of poverty but yet these are people with great pride," said Cynthia. Her advice for novice travelers: spend time touring the states before heading abroad. That's because surprisingly the scenery abroad often is rivaled by ours right at home.
Mumbai is the Dhobi Ghats - an open air laundry.
Delhi is a street scene.
Taj Mahal at Agra.
I know that each time I pack for a trip, especially if I am heading outside the country, I can't help but carry extra "baggage", my safety concerns.
Although I have been fortunate to never find myself in a compromising position, I did have some tense moments at the Paris airport.
My prosthetic leg almost always guarantees that I will be put through the ringer before boarding a plane. I was on my honeymoon when I was diverted to an isolated area of the airport to wait alone for a private screening.
I couldn't shake my concerns, would the airport screeners forget about me? Would they not believe it was just my leg setting off metal detectors? Finally after what seemed like hours, a female screener came in and I made it through the screening relatively unscathed. Although my situation is unique I wondered if these frequent travelers shared any concerns about their safety while traveling.
Former club president Pam Barrus didn't seem to have many reservations about safety. "You just have to use common sense when traveling," Pam told me.
A California native, Pam served as the president of the Travelers' Century Club during the past year. Her passport boosts more than 200 countries and territories which far exceeds the 100 countries or territories required to be a member of the nationwide club.
For Pam, travel is her passion and the advice she shares with those looking to add stamps to their passport: "you just go do it, for me it's a force of nature, so if there is a fence there I am going to get through it."
One of those "fences" came during a recent trip to Somaliland, a break away Republican of Somalia. Pam had to hire armed guards to travel outside the capital city of Hargeisa to see rare cave art. A part of the trip (pictured below) that she documented. If you are looking for a more relaxed vacation, she suggests a visit to Bora Bora, a place she describes as a slice of heaven.
Pam in Somaliland.
Pam in Bora Bora.
As the head of the organization, Pam certainly lives up to image of an adventurous type. She had a captive audience when sharing her recent travels during Saturday's quarterly club meeting at The Boiler House. But after all that's the point of the group, says Pam, to gather with folks who have a shared love of travel and swap tales of far away lands.
After my recent encounter with this group, I have once again been bitten by the travel bug. So, who knows, maybe some day my passion to see what's out there will earn me a slot in the Travelers' Century Club! Now if I could just figure out where I will land next!
Members of the Travelers' Century Club Texas/Oklahoma chapter.