Betty was bitten by the travel bug from day one. Her father’s employment at TWA (Trans World Airlines) made it possible for the family to fly to Europe for free, in an era when flights were prohibitively expensive. Uli, Betty’s husband, shares her passion of traveling to unusual destinations and learning about different cultures. This curiosity has found them trekking to remote tribal villages in Irian Jaya, sleeping in hammocks in the Amazon, and hiking through leech-filled jungles in Sumatra to observe formerly captive orangutans being reintroduced into their habitat. Betty’s most recent trip found her in Zanzibar having a lesson with legendary drum master Mzee Kheri.

Betty and Uli have traveled to 46 countries, most of them with one or two children in tow. Why travel? Because it is the best education. In Irian Jaya, a silent protester with a tattered flag on his penis gourd inspired Betty’s political activism. Backpacking through Brazil led to a leaner perspective of necessities, luxuries and privileges. The connections made with people of each country have enriched their lives. Communicating beyond English is a keystone of their travels. Between the four family members they can communicate in German, French, Portuguese, some Chinese and Italian, and in whatever country they are visiting, pidgin bits of local expressions and lots of unofficial sign language.


Untamed Forests and Curious Brown Bears in the Wilds of Estonia

August 6, 2021

Not many families would hike through the wild woods of Estonia, clouded in humidity and mosquitos to observe brown bears at the height of summer in August. But mine did. Call me an intrepid traveler or an overly-curious cat who counts on extra lives, just in case the latest adventure doesn’t work out—either works. My family has other monikers for me. 

13:45 We are at the TOPS supermarket in Tartu, the last modern-day trading post of civilization before we venture into untamed forests that cover fifty-five percent of Estonia. I suggest we use the restrooms as the cabin does not have a flush toilet. Daniel, our seventeen-year-old son, stops in the snack aisle, mouth agape, his eyebrows furrowed into a frown.

“Oh no. Not another—”

He doesn’t continue. He doesn’t have to. In the speech bubbles above our heads the three of us picture the odiferous compost toilet in our eco-tent on St. John’s. We did have a shower, a sprinkler head attached to a hose that pumped out a spray of solar-warmed water. We will not have that luxury tonight. There is no running water. Read more

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Cleaning up Glitter

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by Elizabeth Reed


Betty Reed Travel Irian Jaya Muliama AuthorThe burning fire of political resistance can be sparked by witnessing injustice and oppression. A trip in the early 90’s branded indelible images on my conscience that forged me into a political, non-violent activist. In1993 my boyfriend, now husband, and I took advantage of a summer of unemployment and traveled to Indonesia, hiking through emerald green rice patties and leech-filled jungles, savoring exotic cuisines. We drank the intoxicating sounds of gamelan orchestras and imbibed the vivid hues and elaborate designs of dancers’ costumes and artists’ paintings.   But it was Papua, known then as Irian Jaya, that brought home to me the beauty of justice and the ugliness of oppression. Read More