When I was seventeen, my mother pulled me out of school for a week and took me to the Canary Islands. She would be attending an International Pharmaceutical Convention. It was the spring of 1976 – a time before internet, digital cameras, and non-stop transatlantic flights. Our plane had to touch down in the Azores in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for refueling. I had never heard of such exotic places before.
The Canary Islands, territory of Spain, are off the NW coast of Africa. We stayed in Puerto de la Cruz on the largest island, Tenerife, which was formed by a volcano. Our hotel, Semiramis, was nestled into a bluff overlooking the North Atlantic (it still is!). I thought it was so cool that we entered the top floor lobby on street level and had to take the elevator down to our room.
While the pharmacists attended meetings, I had the privilege of going on ‘extra tours’ with the young Spanish-American guide who had taken a fancy to me. We whipped down the coastal highway of the island in a convertible to dine on steak tartare prepared fresh at our table. It was the first time I experienced an incredible feeling of exhilaration – on that foreign coastal highway in that convertible. I think that was the moment the love of travel rushed into my veins and I haven’t been able to get rid of that bug since.