Twenty-five years ago I attended my first Travelers’ Century Club meeting and was enchanted by stories of landing on Pitcairn Island, motoring around the Soviet Union in a diesel Mercedes (“We filled up at farm co-ops for free because they didn’t know how much to charge us!”), and flying over Laos in a Yak-40 and surviving to tell the tale. This is for me, I thought, people who speak the universal language of traveling to the far ends of the planet. I joined immediately.
Since then, the Travelers’ Century Club has been my secret place of refuge to gloriously country-drop names such as Tajikistan or Guinea-Bissau when family and friends would merely gape at me, confused and uncomfortable at the mere sounds of these places. I know that, four times a year, I can come to a meeting, walk up to any stranger and say, “Hello, my name is Pamela Barrus, and I am an obsessive traveler,” and find a friend. But never once did I think I would someday become the President (its 24th, and 4th female president). Immensely honored, I look forward to representing the club and its membership for the next two years.
Having personally met many of our members, not just from the U.S., but also from Canada, Ireland, the U.K., Australia, Germany, and Spain, it soon became obvious what a vast body of knowledge about the world we possess. I encourage all of you to jump into our TCC members-only website and post about your latest trip or ask if anybody knows when the next boat for Tokelau is leaving. No technical expertise is necessary and no one will hack your mailbox. We’re a unique social organization, and never has it become easier to communicate with those who speak our language and share our passion. Who knows? Maybe one of us can inspire that young new member who will become the club’s president in 2038.
On a California note, a highlight of our always well-attended December meeting at Lawry’s was the excellent presentation by author Colin Legerton. On breaks from studying Uyghur in Urumqi, China, Colin traveled 14,000 miles by bus and train to the most remote corners of the country to learn and write about its ethnic peoples. Our thanks to him.
—Pamela Barrus, TCC President