The Eat Pray Love effect: Prom vs. Machu Picchu
Part 5 of a Monitor cover story about how families hit by the Eat Pray Love effect leave it all behind. But it’s not all paradise, such as when the prom looms larger than Machu Picchu.
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Dee recalls a night in Barcelona when her youngest daughter Grace, age 6 at the time, was under the bed crying because she missed her dog and wanted to go home. In hindsight, she believes those challenges were good: “We pushed ourselves to do new things. I think it made us stronger, happier, and healthier.”Skip to next paragraph
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And that sentiment – that these trips were well worth navigating the difficulties – is nearly universal. Rainer tells how, after his chidren toured Bhutan, a Buddhist enclave in the Himalayas, his youngest son began building little shrines in the hotel rooms where the family was staying. “Visiting Bhutan was the least kid-friendly thing we did, and yet my younger son was really drawn into it – the customs, the culture, and the aesthetic. It was such a surprise to us,” he says.
“He lived in a shantytown, and his house was brick with dirt floors. We walked in, and his wife had prepared this amazing dinner for us. A dozen neighbors were there. We ate on a slatted bed that doubled as their dining table. It was the most amazing experience for all of us, to see this kind of generosity,” he recounts.
Craig says he got to know the kids in a way that stationary, suburban life in Silver Spring, Md. didn’t allow: “We talked a lot about our family history and about ourselves. In our regular lives, most conversations were about logistics or instruction, from us as adults to our children. When we were traveling, we had the space for a different kind of conversation, about big ideas. It was like conversations you might have in a college dorm room.”
Ann and Doug Brown, who left suburban San Diego to establish a home in Baja California from which they spent time at sea on a sailboat, found that being together so much, especially in a place where everyone wasn’t just like them, helped her children “come out of themselves” and be comfortable around different kinds of people. They are self-assured but less self-centered, she says, than typical kids their age. Ann’s son, Henry Wyatt, 9, told her the months spent on the boat were the best of his life.
IN PICTURES: Way beyond vacation: the 'Eat, Pray, Love' effect
“Being able to fish every day, gather seashells, go to really secluded beaches on the Sea of Cortez for weeks on end was heaven for Henry,” says Ann. “The real adjustment for him will be if and when we emerge back in the States.”