By Teresa Roberts
NABBW’s Associate for Living Abroad

  When I was in grade school, every student in my classroom received a copy of the Weekly Reader. Maybe the mention of that little publication triggers a memory for you, too.

Most of the stories and information that I gathered from the Weekly Reader did not stay with me for a lifetime, but there was one particular issue that certainly remains fixed in my memory to this day. The story of Pompeii and its destruction by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius haunted me.

I Was Captivated

The photos that accompanied the printed story only added to my horror. I was a pretty empathetic child, so it was very difficult for me to forget the pictures of actual human beings frozen in stone for eternity.

When I finally made it to the beautiful country of Italy, wouldn’t you know that Pompeii was a short train trip away from where I was staying in Sorrento.

Of course, a trip to the archaeological site was high on my list of things to do. In fact, I had to go back for a second day, and if I were ever in the area again I am certain that I would return.

Bringing History Alive

teresa _ pompeiiArcheologists have been recovering this famous city for years as Mount Vesuvius watches their efforts. It is accepted by scientists that Vesuvius will erupt again.

Most agree that volcanic action is overdue. Yet, people go about their daily business apparently giving very little thought to a possible impending disaster in much the same way as humans did many years ago before Pompeii was destroyed.

A Connection to Our Past

Ultimately, that’s what I find to be fascinating about any archaeological dig site but in particular Pompeii. The fact that people just like me were going about their business of making a living, raising families, falling in love, experiencing a full range of human emotions and totally engrossed in the art of everyday life leaves me with an impression of eerie connectedness not only between me and other human beings today but as far back as the beginning of time.

Two Quick Tips

teresa _streets of pompeiiIf you think you’d be interested in visiting Pompeii, I encourage you to do it. Here are a two tips that may help steer a novice in the right direction.

First, hire a local guide to walk you through this amazing city. Not only will you be helping the local economy but these people know their history and will add color and additional life to the rather limited descriptions one would find in a guidebook.

Second, plan to spend an entire day and longer if possible. This was not a small city and although they are still excavating, there are a vast array of uncovered streets, houses, bathhouses, street vendor shops, gladiator ring, fountains, art, artifacts and on and on and on, all just waiting to be thoroughly explored. A city of the dead shouldn’t be rushed.

Closure at Last

I’m often asked if the humans frozen in time are actually on display. Yes, they are indeed. Those pictures that I saw in the Weekly Reader in the third grade were the real deal, and I came face-to-face with them at last.

pompeii_people 9The very images that haunted me for years were just as tragic in person, yet, seeing the amazing remnants of a once bustling, thriving city left me with a feeling of wonder rather than horror.

The men, women and children of this ancient city had an incredible amount in common with the human beings of today.

Whenever one travels to ancient cultures, the things we learned in history class suddenly become much more interesting, even for those of us who fancied ourselves to be history buffs.

Whether it’s old castles, monasteries, grottoes, manors or even entire cities, the humans who came before us left behind things that provide a gateway to our past. In my opinion, this may be one of the most fascinating aspects of roaming the planet.

T Roberts Gypsey bookTeresa Roberts retired early from a career in education to travel the world as an international house sitter. Along the way, she accidentally became an author/blogger/freelance writer, adding digital nomad to her evolving job description. Although insisting that she is still retired, Teresa writes a weekly blog on her website Creative Paths to Freedom, exploring the topics of creative living, travel adventures and life without debt. Her essay, How to Travel Without Being a Tourist, appears in the book 65 Things to Do When You Retire – Travel.

Teresa’s published books include Finding the Gypsy in Me – Tales of an International House Sitter and Creative Paths to Freedom – How to Live Your Dream Life ASAP. She could be the poster girl for finding adventure at any age and on any income. Sharing her story as a guest speaker is also very rewarding. Feel free to contact Teresa at

Visit: Creative Paths to Freedom
Skype: terrie06