Transforming Travel

“So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go…”

AirplaneI’m front-loading all my missives this week, because 12 hours from now we’ll be in transit, and our first stop will likely be too busy to permit much posting. So far, my loyal readers have received a lot of vague hints about my travel plans, but you probably don’t have the big picture unless you’ve talked to me face to face. Here, for posterity (and so I myself can keep it all straight!), is a rundown of all the near-future treks and adventures that lie ahead for myself and my family.

Let me preface this by saying (since I never say it enough) that none of this would be conceivable if not for S. Not only is it her sabbatical salary that’s paying our way, but it’s also been her force of will leading us up to, and across, the threshold. I don’t get to travel the world because I’m lucky, or because I’m such a clever writer; I get it because S worked her butt off to earn it for us.

So, what is “it,” precisely? Fasten your seat belts. Trek One, which starts tomorrow, is a short hop to Montreal via Halifax. We need to stop there so I can visit the French consulate, to secure a long-term visa for our stay in Lille. You can only apply for them in person, and you can only apply within three months of your intended arrival in France, so I had a narrow window. S already got hers and X’s, so I could have gone solo, but it seemed like a good spot to start the family vacation—it’s a favourite city of mine and S’s, and there’s lots for younger kids to do. We’re staying in an airbnb in Griffintown, close to Vieux-Montreal. We plan to hit La Ronde (an amusement park), Biodôme (an indoor zoo), and Piknic Electronique (an outdoor rave).

Trek Two begins on June 27, after I get my visa (hopefully). We fly through Toronto to Kelowna, British Columbia, to reunite X with his grandfather and step-grandmother. Retirees, they live in what I affectionately call a “golf ghetto”—a gated community built around the links. My father doesn’t roll out of bed and tee up as much these days, but he remains active by hiking and playing “pickleball” (that is the sport’s actual name, but I can’t write it with a straight face), while his wife cultivates an extensive garden. X and his grandma get along great, and I’m looking forward to the Okanagan beaches and West Coast microbrews.

We’re in Kelowna for two weeks, but S has a secret mission that will take her south of the border on Trek Three: Mandala for Change’s Theatre for the Oppressed Facilitator Workshop in Port Townsend, WA. “Theatre for the Oppressed” is a famous book and political philosophy of drama by Augusto Boal, a Brazilian director. The workshop will provide an important foundation for the Applied Theatre programme S plans to launch at CBU, when we return. While she is learning how to change the world one lighting cue at a time, I’ll be hanging out with my Aunt C, who’s driving to Kelowna from Vancouver to see her favourite nephew.

Then, S flies back to Kelowna, arriving late on July 11. Early the next morning, we’re on another airplane, this time on Trek Four, destination: Edmonton. This is where S and I grew up, and it’s where X’s other grandma lives—at least, some of the time. Nanabee has a house in Cape Breton too, plus she tries to spend a few months of each year in Nepal, with her adoptive family. She’s a busy lady, but she has settled down for the summer to help X, Mama, and Papa, a solid base of operations for most of the summer.

Except we just can’t stay put. On July 22, I take the longest of all the summer treks: from Edmonton to Vancouver to Osaka, Japan. The “Osaka-to-me” odyssey is a reunion of old friends, believe it or not. I managed to reunite with my junior high buddies three years ago, at the home of one friend in California. This time around, we’re joining J in Osaka, where he’s been teaching English and spawning children for 10 years or so. While some of my friends have been before, and a few even know a bit of the language, it’s completely new to me. A lot of people express jealousy when I tell them I’m going to Japan, and I don’t have the heart to tell them I’m probably going to spend most of the time indoors playing Dungeons & Dragons or Magic: The Gathering. I’ll at least pop out once to buy some Mario products for X.

Then it’s back to Edmonton from Japan—wish me luck with that bit of jet lag—and then S does her own jog to Vancouver for a week, around August 8. It’s for another workshop, called Theatre for Living. I don’t know much about it, but she did Level One a few years ago, and now she’s back for Level Two. It’s more theatre-for-social-change stuff, with a bit more emphasis on personal growth. I’ll write about it in detail once I get the report from S.

How many treks is that, now? I think we’re up to six, but I missed Trek Seven in there somewhere, as S takes X down to Calgary to take in the Folk Festival with my cousin D. I’ve been talking to X about the summer as if it were a video game chain quest: seven levels, and our team needs to work together to collect seven keys in order to unlock the final Trek. And that one will occur around August 25 (our flights aren’t booked just yet), when we hurtle eastwards, waving at Cape Breton as we pass overhead, but settling at last in Lille, France.

We’ll be in Lille from September to June. And I suppose that demands an explanation, too, but I just hit 1,000 words, and I need a good night’s sleep before we get on the first of so many airplanes tomorrow. So the French Connection—the heart of the sabbatical, really—will have to wait for another post.

Now that you know our itinerary, which destinations do you want to read about the most?

And, hey–if you haven’t already, please sign up for more missives at http://tinyletter.com/scottsharplin! All good adventures need an audience!

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