November 17, 2016 // 9:38 AM

Resident and World Traveler

Written by Trish Lauer

Spend some time at Lena Lansinger’s home and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the world.

An avid traveler, Lena’s home – and life – is filled with items from all around the globe. These keepsakes are pieces of her adventures.

One such trip took place in the Antarctic. Lena wanted to go somewhere different with the friend she was traveling with and set her sights on the South Pole. Immediately living up to the meaning of “adventure”, Lena went into the trip not even knowing if there was a spot available until she got to Miami to depart. Once she knew there was room for her to go, she boarded a ship that had formerly been a Russian scientific ship. There were no keys and each passenger had to wear special boots to avoid spreading germs. These boots even had to be hosed down to ensure cleanliness.

A blizzard was going on when Lena and her fellow passengers made it to Paradise Harbor, and the ground was so steep that everyone had to snowshoe. Once at the top of the hill, a wedding was going on! When it was finished, snowshoeing down was not an option and everyone had to slide back down on their backsides. Meanwhile, an iceberg turned over as the ship was docked and almost hit it.

Another trip to the Galapagos Islands had Lena and her group guided by boatmen. Since Lena happened to be the oldest traveler, she was treated like a queen. The land was so muddy that everyone needed mud boots just to be able to walk, and birds such as pelicans and blue-footed boobies flew overhead as everyone used large lava rocks to walk and climb on. At night it was so dark that only their guide, Diego, knew where to lead them with only a flashlight to light the way. In the water at nighttime, the different sea creatures would “twinkle like Christmas lights”, and sea lions were commonly seen all around the islands – so much so that locals would erect sea walls in an attempt to keep animals and other wildlife off their lawns.

While working at a hotel in Austria, Lena would be responsible for three to six busloads of visitors at a time. She would leave flowers and chocolates in their rooms, take care of their luggage, and even accompany them to the hospital if necessary. A memory from that time that Lena has is riding her bicycle to work, her cape flying in the wind behind her. The hotel sat atop a hill and Lena had to push her bike up it to get there. She and her bike weren’t the only ones who had trouble making it up that hill – buses loaded with travelers would have to back up in order to arrive, and then drive in reverse to make it back down.

In a boat in Africa, the captain steered it to a corner of land. He explained that if they stepped out on one side of the boat, they’d be in one country, and if they stepped out on the other side, they’d be in another. Holding the boat steady, he allowed everyone to do just that so they’d be able to say they’ve been to both places.

As you go through Lena’s house, you’ll find ceramic tiles from Greece, a charcoal drawing from Thailand, and a troll from Norway. One wall has a stone mosaic calendar brought back from Mexico, and on another is a beautiful needlepoint picture of a bird that she got in China. If you look on a tabletop or the shelves of a cabinet, you’ll see vases from Taiwan, a teapot from Wales and painted driftwood from Croatia. Treasures are tucked all around her home, from all around the world, and you can’t help but be transported to any and all of the places Lena has been fortunate enough to visit.

Looking at a poster of flags of the world, Lena points out the one for each country she’s been to and it’s a majority of them. She can’t name her favorite because they’re all so different and have unique things to offer. After seeing all the places she has been, one can’t help but wonder where she hasn’t seen. When asked, she names Nepal, Tibet, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates as some of the very few countries left on her list. Knowing Lena, she’ll get there sooner or later.