Last year Travis, Columinate’s resident traveling turtle, visited the USA and the QRCA conference. It’s a bit late, but here is his update…

A while ago I shared my experiences of hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro with you. Since we last spoke I have experienced another amazing expedition to “A whole new world” indeed.

My adventure once again stared by getting stuffed into a suitcase (what is it with these humans who keep chucking me into small spaces!?). After passing through security I was loaded into a plane. A full 8 hours later I was taken out of my entrapment and the human who accompanied me used me as a pillow during a 3-hour stopover in Dubai – so humiliating. Then we were back onto the airplane for another 16 hours before reaching our destination – Orlando, Florida. The home of Disney World.

I was thrilled to meet two of my childhood heroes when I was picked up by Goofy and got to play with Donald Duck. My human escort did not let the opportunity pass to be in my photos, but I can’t blame her, she was like a kid in a candy store the whole day. We saw so many of our favorite characters and were on so many different rides that it all started to blur together. One ride that stood out though was Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride. I remember noting the irony that I was in fact in a whole new world and it was “shining, shimmering and splendid.”

From there I attended the annual conference of the Qualitative Research Consultant Association (QRCA) with the human. Evidently, qualitative research is her specially and with an entire conference dedicated to qualitative research she was in her element. She got to share her thoughts and learn from like-minded professions who faced the same challenges that she did on a daily basis. A whole new world of possibilities opened for her and she got “a new fantastic point of view” on how to improve as a qualitative research and use the best tools and techniques to deliver excellent qualitative research.

Then I when to another “dazzling place I never knew” – New York City. We took pictures in Time Square but no picture can capture the full effect of the color, the sparkle, the wonder and the size of everything that illuminates the night sky. The next day we were running from one side of New York to the other to see as much as possible in a single day. We saw some “Unbelievable sights” like the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State building and of course the building where they shot scenes for Friends. We also had some “indescribable feelings” when we realized that these people work more than 8 hours a day, they can get something delivered to their door any time of the day or night and their gyms are open 24 hours a day. Some even exercise at 11pm and shop at 3am. I found it to be a city that never sleeps until I took a nap in Central Park. I was used as a pillow again, but this time I didn’t mind as much. I was content because this time I was in my element – Nature.

I can sum up the trip as “A thrilling chase to a wondrous place” because America is just bigger, brighter and better than anything I have ever seen. However, when we got back home and the officer at customs spoke in her South African accent, my human companion almost hugged her. I think I know how she felt at that point – traveling is amazing and seeing other countries in impressive but South Africa is our home and sometimes we have our stuff but it is a country like no other and I love it here. Until I travel again… Keep safe and keep smiling.

T4 – Travis the Traveling Turtle