BY JIMOH BABATUNDE
Marlene Menard works with the United States Government. She has worked in several countries of the world in the course of her duty. Now, she works with the Office of Marine Conservation (OMC) in Washington DC. OMC is a part of the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). Menard was in Nigeria for the first time recently as part of the team that came for re-certification of Nigeria’s fishery and Shrimps industry. In this interview, she shares her travel experience. Excerpt:
On how often she travels
Let me start by saying this is my first visit to Nigeria but not my first visit to Africa. Before now I had been to Egypt and Tunisia, but my first time to west Africa. I travel often in the course of carrying out my duty, I will say maybe 40 %. I work in the Marine Conservation in the US Department of States, based in Washington DC. I have worked overseas in the past 10 -11 years. I have worked in the US embassy in Abu Dahbi, the US embassy in Argentina , the US consulate in Karachi and US consulate in Munich and now Washington DC.
On her first travel memory
My first travel memory was when I was 35years when I went to Europe, Paris for the first time. So, that was my first travel.
On her favorite destination
It is hard to say a favorite place. The reason why I say that is that sometime the most interesting places are places that are not popular for tourism and so every place has a beauty to it, so it is difficult to say. I have been to every continents. I have visited Africa now, I have lived in the Middle East, I have visited Australia , South America, Europe and North America. When I was in Buenos Aires , I went on a cruise to Antarctica, every place is beautiful and has its own strength.
On where she likes most
Oh my goodness. I have to think about it. I don’t know , because every place is great, but I love to see the cities and also love to see the country sides. For me what makes a destination thick is the people and the food. I love to try different food.
On her best Nigerian food
I have tried jollof rice and it is great. I love it. In fact, I got the recipe so I can cook it when I get home.
On what she has learnt travelling
The most important thing I think I have learnt travelling is that even though we differ in different ways, in terms of our societies, cultures and religion that we all still have so much in common. I think if we look at what we have in common then we can live together in peace.
On her best travelling companion
My younger brother. We know each other so well as we grew up together. I have six brothers and sisters, but my younger brother I love traveling with. Though I have travelled with friends, I think I enjoy the company of him more as brother and sister.
On her best reading material
I tried to read something about where I am. For example my recent vacation in July, I was in Galapagos Island in Ecuador , because I was there for meeting and work , I took extra time for vacation and on a sail boat cruise it was amazing and beautiful. When I was doing that I was reading a book about choice of touring , you know something that will make me have a better and fuller experience on my travel.
On weather she likes departing or arriving a destination
Oh!. I like to arrive, because everything is in front of me. I am so sad when I leave a destination because the visit is over and there is always more to do than the time that I have. So, the beginning of the visit, I will be looking forward and everything is great. I prefer arriving to departing.
On her best hotel
Sigh!.I don’t know. Please can we skip this one. ( Laughter)
On best airline
I love Emirates airline. I think they have wonderful services . I love Air France because the food is fantastic. It is hard to say my favorite.
On her favorite city in the world
My favorite city in the world is Rome , Italy. It is so beautiful , there are so many places to see in just walking around the city.
On worst traveling experience.
There was a time I received a friend in Argentina , though it was fun, but we can say it was bad as we got stuck in a mud visiting a Peninsula Island to go see the whales and it was raining, we got stuck in the mud for an hour before somebody came to help us.
Though it was okay as we had cookies and water with us.
On what she will not forget while preparing for a tour
I always packed too much . I tried to pack only what I need, but I end up packing too many clothes . So, if I have my vitamins I can find everything else that I need. My vitamins is the most important thing to travel with.
On next vacation
I will like to come to Africa for my next vacation, so as to spend time for tourism and go outside the cities to visit the country sides.