World travelers gather to share stories

Members of the Pacific Southwest Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club, led by president Maryann Hart of La Jolla, have exceptionally interesting stories to share at their quarterly gatherings.

Approximately 50 members and guests attended the March 20 dinner at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. Betty Dow shared some of her more humorous globetrotting tales.

A tiny dynamo who has been traveling since the ‘40s, Dow, now 85, worked as a radio station show host, an Arthur Murray dance instructor and exercise instructor. She said her mission in life is “to give joy and have joy.”

Her droll sense of humor and self-effacing wit drew the audience in as she told of encountering a woman in Paris, France who had on exactly the same dress as she did, meeting a woman who had worked at the same New England radio station as Dow had while swimming laps together in the pool on the QE II as it pitched and heaved over rough seas.

Hart has been president of the Pacific Southwest chapter for five years. She joined the club in 1986 and is a lifetime member.

Hart comes from a family of world travelers. Her mother was an English teacher and artist, and her father was a Viennese artist.

“I was raised with the idea that there’s nothing as wonderful as sailing around the world on a freighter,” Hart said.

Now a retired teacher and widow, Hart travels frequently. She first circumnavigated the globe in 1984, then completed a second global trek in 2002.

During her first adventure around the world, she spent 10 weeks living out of one carry-on suitcase.

“I had the trip of a lifetime that I’d been waiting for since I was 12 years old,” she said.

Her favorite destinations include Kyoto, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Istanbul and the fjords of Norway.

“We live in such a beautiful world,” Hart said. “No one comes back from circumnavigating our globe the same person as when they left. We need to go around the world to see the wonderful ways other people do things and see the endless variety of people and places.

The Circumnavigators Club was organized in 1902 to bring together world travelers and promote international friendships. It later expanded to become an educational organization. Members support grants for college students to participate in learning projects about travel and global issues.

To join, candidates must have crossed all the meridians of longitude in one direction and be sponsored by current members.

Periodically the organization awards the Order of Magellan to individuals who have made a “significant contribution to world understanding.” Past recipients include Dr. Bertrand Piccard, Brian Jones, Ted Turner, Jacques Cousteau, James Michener, Thor Heyerdahl, Sir Edmund Hillary, president Herbert Hoover and General Douglas MacArthur.

“These are heroes, explorers and adventurers,” Hart said.