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Travel Thursday with Jennifer Macaire

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I'm talking to Jennifer Macaire on Travel Thursday this week. Welcome, Jennifer, you've had a fascinating childhood and travelled to quite a lot of places haven't you?

Hi Karen, yes a lot of my travels were done before I can properly remember them. I was born in Kingston, NY, but can't recall a thing about that. Possibly my first memories are of California, when my sister was born, but the memories are like small details cut from faded photographs and tell me nothing about California. Then we moved an impossibly long distance across the Pacific to the Samoan islands - and I have rain drenched memories of this place.cropped-american-samoa_6


I learned to talk there, made my first friends there,  and went to my first nursery school. I never wore  shoes. I drank fresh coconut milk and ate off banana leaves. I rode on a skinny horse tethered to a stake; there were ten kids on the horse's back, and high up on the neck clutching the mane was me, my father walking beside me. I would go into town with our nanny and chat with the villagers. I used to speak Samoan.  My sister's first words were Samoan. I walked over coral reefs and hunted fish for my mother’s aquarium. We went to night time festivals with music and dancing. We paddled long wooden canoes out into the ocean. And then,  just as we were getting settled in, we left.

We got into a propeller plane and flew back across the Pacific. The plane bounced and juddered across the sky, falling into low pressure areas, dropping like a stone then catching air again, breaking dishes in the galley. My mother spent the entire flight being sick My father clutched Julie. I hung onto the window,  looked out over what I was sure was the North Pole, and searched for Santa's workshop. We made a stopover in Hawaii, which I remember because our friends lived there, and I had watermelon for the first time - the most delicious fruit with the most annoying seeds I'd even eaten. We didn't stay, though I think I would have loved it there too. We went on to California, where suddenly I had to wear shoes. We were treated to Disneyland, which gave me nightmares for ages - we were greeted at the entrance by the Pirate Captain Hook - I screamed and screamed.  For me, everything was real then. There was no such thing as fiction. Then we moved back to New York, where I had started off nearly six years earlier.


Jennifer (holding the fishing net), her mother and sister in Somoa circa 1963

We moved into an old haunted farmhouse near Sleepy Hollow, where Ichabod Crane had met the headless horseman. It was nearly autumn. Everything was strange to me - the radiators on the walls, the way the leaves turned color and fell off the trees - the chill in the air - but I was looking forward to seeing snow for the first time. One day I was downstairs, looking out the window at the skeleton trees, when someone started throwing pieces of newspaper out the upstairs window. I ran to look, but there was no one there. It was snow! I never thought snow would look like torn bits of paper.

So what, my mother sometimes asks me, do you remember about Samoa? I remember the rainy afternoons. The sand everywhere. The coconut trees (and watching people climb them). I remember climbing up the flagpole. The festival on the cliffs, the torches at night, the boat rides to other islands, and the constant humidity. I remember the grass skirts for ceremonies, the dances, the songs, the music. I can recall the clothes the natives wore and some of the words they spoke. I remember my babysitter and her family (we’re still friends on Facebook!)  I remember hiding under a hibiscus bush and seeing a million tiny baby spiders hatch from their egg. I remember my sister, Julie, in her seat with wheels, pushing herself along but refusing to walk. I had a red wagon. I had a swing in the living room. I can remember the layout of our house, and how our bedroom had one window on the end wall, and it was narrow and screened in with louvered glass. Samoa is so much a part of me that sometimes I can close my eyes and be back there. I can still see the light, how it looked there - always hazy because of the clouds, and after the rain how crystal-clear the air was. It's the child's part of me that saw everything for the first time that remembers Samoa, and what I remember most are the faces, the voices, & pulling my red wagon down the sidewalk thinking that this was utter happiness.

It sounds incredible, Jennifer. What lovely memories. Where do you live now?

Right now I live in France. My husband is French, and we decided that we wanted to educate our children in France. I’ve been here on and off since 1979, but we’ve lived here year ‘round since  the year 2000. I love France, it’s a wonderful country. There are mountains, beaches, lovely cities, and loads of history. One of my favorite haunts is the Louvre museum.


Jenny at Frenchmans Reef

Jenny at Frenchman's Reef

Do you like to travel? What is your favourite means of travel?

I love to travel, and my favorite means are planes and trains.  As a child, I travelled with my parents, and then I married a professional polo player, so we moved all year long, playing polo tournaments in France, Argentina, the United States, England, Spain, Italy, Dubai...I feel like my whole life has been a gypsy life, but it’s never lonely. When you travel in the polo world you meet up with the same people, so it’s like a big family.

What countries have you visited or lived in?

According to the travel site I belong to, I’ve visited 76 places, and also according to the site I have 799 remaining to see so I have to keep moving! I’d love to visit Scotland next, and the Nordic countries. I haven’t been to India either, nor China, so I have wonderful voyages to look forward to. Some items on my things to see before I die list: The Grand Canyon, The Northern Lights, The Dragon Festival in China, and the Holi Festival in India! Those will go with the SeafoodFestival in Portugal, and the Newport Jazz festival in upstate NY!

Have any of your books been inspired by your travels? Or have you travelled anywhere for research for your books?

My latest book is TheRoadtoAlexander, and features a road trip through ancient Greece taken by a time traveller who is kidnapped by Alexander the Great. (He thought she was Persephone, goddess of the dead).  I followed his journey across half the world, researching as I went along. The Silk Route is another voyage I’d love to make - across the deserts and mountains to Samarkand, which is featured in book II of the series, LegendsofPersia.

 road-to-alexander-cover-264186-510x590                                 legends-of-persia-264288-510x590      

You can find out more about Jenny here:

Website: https://jennifermacaire.wordpress.com/

Facebook: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TimeforAlexander/

 Thanks for having me on your blog, Karen.

It's a pleasure! You've certainly visited an impressive number of countries, Jennifer. I'm reading The Road to Alexander now and really enjoying it.


















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