TCK on a Camel

The storm exploded over the desert and rain drenched me to the skin. There was no way for me to find shelter – simply because my camel wouldn’t budge. He just turned his back on the squall and stayed put until it passed. When it stopped the Berbers took me to their camp, where the women dressed me in their clothing while my own dried in the sun. I drank hot tea by the campfire, an object of their children’s curiosity.

That memory of Tunisia is a part of me – a TCK, or “Third Culture Kid.” **

I’m a wanderer. It’s in the genes. Dad worked for the World Health Organization so I left the States when I was ten and explored the world for 32 years, sometimes with them, sometimes on my own, and, like everyone else, life had its ups and downs.

School? High school in the Philippines and then one semester at the University of Wyoming, where the first heavy snow sent me into a panic – and back to the Far East. This time to Kuala Lumpur, where imams called from minarets and the chimes of gentle bells floated from Buddhist temples and my sister was the only European at a Catholic girls school that nurtured Malays, Chinese and Indians. I rode a jeep through a rubber plantation and felt and smelled the greenness of the jungle and yearned to see a tiger glide through deep shadows.

I finished school in Switzerland, where I was taught to think and speak in French and traveled Europe with friends or on my own. I have memories of cobblestone streets, magnificent mountains and the wonderful melding of young people from all over the world living and loving and trying to solve the world’s problems over glasses of wine and cups of coffee on the shores of Lake Geneva.

My first job? Secretary for the East African Professional Hunters’ Association. My trophy? A group photograph of 68 professional guides after an annual general meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, and I’m the only woman smack in the middle of them. Kenya was Amboseli with the snows of Kilimanjaro shimmering under a full moon. It was a cheetah racing across the plains, silhouetted in the orange fire of a setting sun.

I lived a long time in Cape Town, a city at the tip of Africa surrounded by two mighty oceans. Gales roared down the slopes of Table Mountain and great sharks swam in False Bay. I worked for a newspaper where I discovered a love of marketing and research and writing.

Life’s like a journey on that camel. Rain can threaten to drown me and I can’t seem to move forward. But then the sun comes out and I continue on a journey to meet new people, and to learn and grow.

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