Edi­tor’s note

Elle (Canada) - - Insider -

When I was on the shadow side of 30, I told my par­ents that my hus­band, David, and I were quit­ting our full-time news­pa­per jobs to drive to Belize. I could tell right away this wasn’t news they were ex­pect­ing. As I ex­plained that we would be camp­ing and/or sleep­ing in our sec­ond-hand Ford Ranger for the next 10 months, a quiet ten­sion set­tled over the room. I’d set off on an­other epic road ad­ven­ture when I was in my early 20s—one that took me from Lon­don, Eng­land, to Kathmandu in a dou­ble-decker bus. One high­light was trav­el­ling through Iran dur­ing its war with Iraq. When I men­tioned that por­tion of the itin­er­ary to my mother, it was greeted with the same re­strained alarm she was now show­ing for our Cen­tral Amer­i­can ad­ven­ture. But we re­mained un­de­terred—the fact that we had al­ready sold ev­ery­thing and quit our jobs gave us steely de­ter­mi­na­tion. (At this point, are you won­der­ing why I wasn’t clever enough to pen my own Eat, Pray, Love or The LifeChang­ing Magic of Tidy­ing Up?) Our 7,000kilo­me­tre road trip took us from Nanoose Bay, B.C., to Punta Gorda, Belize, where we would do vol­un­teer work with the in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties of the Kekchi and Mopan, who were set­ting up eco­tourism ven­tures in their jun­gle vil­lages. I mostly nav­i­gated, which means I spent hours star­ing out the win­dow and sing­ing along with “Come a Long Way” by Michelle Shocked. For two newly mar­ried—for­merly in­de­pen­dent-minded—in­di­vid­u­als, it was a crash course on learn­ing how to com­pro­mise and com­mu­ni­cate in rather con­fined quar­ters. I knew that our mar­riage had legs af­ter I asked David to un­load a wagon full of 50-pound bags of rice and move them to a barn so that a Men­non­ite farmer would let me take his pic­ture for a story I was writ­ing. Clearly, David was in it for the long haul. Th­ese days, ev­ery mo­ment is eas­ily doc­u­mented, but many of my favourite images live in my mem­ory alone. The most vivid is of the starry blan­ket of fire­flies that lit the dirt paths in the Kekchi vil­lage where we stayed. The im­age of me driv­ing over a (dead) two-me­tre-long boa con­stric­tor is also im­printed on my brain. I hadn’t thought about our jour­ney in a long time un­til our ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor, Christina Reynolds, asked us to share a sum­mer-road-trip story for “Driven” (page 88). She also wanted us to share some road-trip tips. Here are mine: 1. It’s lib­er­at­ing to edit your life’s pos­ses­sions down to what you can fit into a truck. (Marie Kondo would agree.) 2. A road trip is a pow­er­ful re­minder to look ahead to new ad­ven­tures in­stead of star­ing into the rearview mir­ror. Or, as Jack Ker­ouac wrote in On the Road: “Noth­ing be­hind me, ev­ery­thing ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

The Ford Ranger that was Noreen and David’s home on wheels for their drive from Van­cou­ver Is­land to Belize

Noreen and David plan­ning their route

Fol­low me on Twit­ter and In­sta­gram @noreen_flana­gan We love hear­ing from you! Please write to us at ed­i­tors@ ELLECanada. com. Noreen Flana­gan Edi­tor-in-Chief

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