Lynda Takoudes has seen many beautiful things: the glitz of Dubai, the grandeur of Egyptian pyramids, the intricate architecture of India’s Taj Mahal, masterful works of art in the museums of Paris – all in the past five years.
“At the beginning, it was always about looking. Everything was looking,” said Takoudes, of Warwick, R.I.
Now, it’s more about opening her eyes to what’s around her. Because, in some of those same places, she saw poverty, repression and desperation.
“I was in India and Turkey, and we’d go to see the really pretty things rather than getting involved. In India, the poverty and the begging – oh my goodness – it was difficult,” she said. “I find myself wanting to change the way I travel.”
She’s looking at more purposeful trips, combining travel with volunteerism.
This fall, she will spend two weeks helping refugees in Chios, Greece. She’s not sure she can make much of a difference, but she intends to try.
She’s also seeking more meaningful interactions with interesting people, like the Pakistani and Indonesian emigrants she met on the metro in Dubai; the goat herder chasing a rogue animal along the road in Greece; and the birders at an Arizona dude ranch.
And, when she makes historical connections between her destinations, she will add them to the timeline she created after her trip to Egypt, when she realized the historical links to other places she’d been, such as Greece and Turkey. Her travels have also led to more personal connections, like those between the remnants of Nazi atrocities in Eastern Europe and the tragedy that befell her late husband’s family during that period in northern Greece.
Make no mistake, she still plans to travel for pure fun, enjoying experiences like her off-roading adventure in the Arabian Desert – when jeep-driving guides took them spinning atop the sand dunes – and the helicopter ride over Denali National Park in Alaska with a glacier landing.
“Everyone should go to Alaska,” she said.
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