Friday, September 12, 2014

On Taking All the Forks

     Huaca de la Luna, a Moche temple

In an eco-restaurant in northern Peru, a dozen people lunch outside at a long table and share their travel stories: Halong Bay, Vietnam after our military left; Zimbabwe before the landowners fled; Xian, China after the long-buried warriors emerged; the castles of Ireland; a boat trip to Antarctica; lions in Tanzania; the grimness of the Ganges,
Now we have ventured to this land where the Moche people lived centuries before the Inca came and conquered and whose story and magnificent pottery and gold and silver  craftsmanship are only now being unearthed.
The travel-telling happened yesterday and I was astounded. For one woman, this trip is her 23d with Overseas Adventure Travel. Others had wandered equally widely, picking tours by time and place. As I look around the table, I wonder how these sturdy folks looked in their youths, before divorces, deaths of spouses, gray hair and grandchildren (now taken on trips as well). Despite some bad knees and hips, thkis gang would  rather travel than do almost anything else. For many, travel is the single most important purchase after food and rent. This is not a group that dresses chic or has had "work done" (though one 73-year-old climbed  onto a hotel fire escape, then walked out on a roof to retrieve his new and newly washed  Joseph A Banks briefs that had fallen three stories). They are people who tread lightly across the planet, packing for two weeks in one carry-on and a backpack, Who never keep anyone else waiting.  Who think nothing of spending weeks in one pair of walking shoes.
I feel as if I have met the  me of my future -- a confirmation that I can continue to do what I love even as the years creep up.  When  I get to a fork in the road, as Yogi Berra advised, I will take it.

Ps if you go to see the Moche sites in Trujillo and Chiclaya, Peru  --such as the Huaca de la Luna and Sipan --hire Miguel Alvan as your guide. He's terrific!!
In Lima, I have only praise for guide Dante Minaya

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Out, Out, Damn Ovaries! Or Not?

With my mother, grandmother and daughter
When you have already traveled a longer route than what lies before you, life gets more precious. To be blunt about it, the destination is not somewhere you particularly want to go sooner.
What bomb may be lurking along the path? Is there a way to sidestep around it? And so it was that I wondered and worried about my risk for ovarian cancer, long after those who may have bequeathed it to me had gone. My grandmother died of this awful disease. My mother may have waffled about the pathology of her surgery. I was clueless about the DNA of the men in my family. And then I watched a beloved sister-in-law valiantly and futilely fight the disease. I was in a quandary about my own risk.
So, what did I do?
I reveal my decision and the steps I took to reach it in the new Genetics Section of The Forward.  You can read the story here.
"Too much information," you may be tempted to say. "Not my problem," the guys may (wrongly) think.  But  knowing your genetic risk and acting on that knowledge may make all the difference. If not for you, then for your children.