By Carol Cain, on March 1, 2014

To Egypt, with Mom

Movies and books always have been great motivators in deciding what places I would like to travel next. The Iliad and The Odyssey put Greece on my bucket list, just as The Lord of The Rings makes me yearn for New Zealand. 

But mythical creatures and beautiful poetry aren’t my only motivators. My mother always was a huge inspiration in my desire to travel to places where, truth be told, not too many Latinos were known to explore at the time she took them on. She passed away seven years ago, but is still an inspiration to me today.

My mother grew up as the oldest daughter in a poor family from the Dominican Republic. She saved her money, even against her father’s wishes, to get a visa out of this country and come to the United States. She spoke no English and had no college degree. But she learned and quickly found a job as a travel agent in New York City. Back in those days, my mother was something of a rarity. A light skinned, green-eyed Dominican woman living alone in the big city was not something you often heard about in the early 1960s. Her job took her on amazing adventures. She traveled through Europe and the Middle East with her travel group and explored places she never even dreamed possible.


DreamWorks’ newest animated film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which opens March 7, has been such a conversation starter in my house about traveling back in time to anywhere in the world. The “dream destination” is different for all of us, but I would travel no further than to that very moment where I could take a trip with her.

We would go to Egypt. That was where Mom had her most incredible experiences. She often laughed about how they would stare at her afro, how it caused quite a stir at airport security because they had never seen such a thing. She would show me the hundreds of photos that she took there. I remember being mesmerized by images of her on camels, next to pyramids, in ancient tombs surrounded by hieroglyphics. (In case you’re wondering, she’s the one in the photo at the top of this page.)

Viewfinder Tip: Trips to the local library and neighborhood movie theater often offer the best resources with which to introduce the inspiration for travel. 

Of course, I’m all over any movie that focuses on travel, whether it’s animated or not, and I can’t wait to take my children to check it out. I am anxious to see, in the end, what destination will end up on their little bucket lists after watching the film and what images will inspire their wanderlust.

Egypt is still on my list of places to see before I die. Retracing my mom’s footsteps is my primary goal. I admire her courage, so visible in the faded images of photographs taken so long ago, and often wonder which of my experiences will inspire my kids to take on the world as well.

If you could travel back in time, where would you go and who would you want to see?