As young children, we read about the great voyages and heroism of early explorers in their quest to discover new distant, exotic lands. But in order for us to understand what drove these adventurers to take such arduous, oftentimes perilous, journeys, we need to retrace their footsteps.
For example, we need to vicariously follow the path that Ferdinand Magellan took when he sailed uncharted waters in order to map the world; of how Captain James Cook led an expedition to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun and therefore derive accurately Earth's distance to the Sun; how Charles Darwin explored the ecological paradise of the Galapagos archipelago and discovered subtle differences in its flora and fauna, which later led him to write his epic work on the origin of species through natural selection; and how Dr. David Livingstone pushed deep into the heart of the Dark Continent in search of the source of the Nile.
Left: The Great Pyramid on Egypt's Giza Plateau is the oldest and largest of the surviving Great Wonders of the Ancient World. It was built during the reign of the pharaoh Khufu during the Fourth Dynasty, around 2589 to 2566 BC. In the foreground is the tomb of a high-ranking dignitary named Seshemnefer. Right: Edwin accompanies Imelda on her first ever donkey ride across the desert necropolis of Saqqara. In the background is the famous Step Pyramid designed by the architect Imhotep for the Third Dynasty king Djoser.
We would not have unraveled many of the mysteries of ancient Egypt if it were not for Giovanni Balzoni's excavations in Giza, Thebes, Philae, and Abu Simbel. The same is true for Howard Carter's discovery of the fabulous tomb of the boy king, Tutankhamun. And the lost city of the Incas would have remained hidden high in the Andes were it not for the passion and perseverance of Hiram Bingham, who brought Machu Picchu to the world's attention.
We don't need to build ourselves ships like the HMS Endeavour or the HMS Beagle, nor take months or years of hazardous travel in order to follow in their footsteps. Advances in modern science and technology now allow us to reach remote places, even the North and South Poles, in a matter of days and with comfort and in style.
Inspired by this spirit of exploration and adventure, we set out in 1983 on our first international trip -- to the island of Java in Indonesia to witness that year's total solar eclipse. Here we both had our first exposure to foreign culture, language, and cuisine. We saw for ourselves what attracted and inspired many explorers to journey to far-away places. There's so much to see and experience beyond our borders that one lifetime is not enough.
The ruins of ancient Rome (clockwise from top left): The facade of the Pantheon; the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina at the Roman Forum; the remaining columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, also at the Forum; and a night view of the Eternal City's iconic landmark, the magnificent Colosseum. Photos by Edwin Aguirre and Imelda Joson.
Left: Imelda goes on a walking safari with game tracker Patrick at Thornybush Game Reserve, adjacent to South Africa's Kruger National Park. Right: Edwin traverses a trail along the slopes of Taal Volcano on the Philippine island of Luzon.
Some of the great denizens of Africa (clockwise from top left): Lion cubs, Masai giraffe, Grant's zebra, and mountain gorilla. Photos by Edwin Aguirre and Imelda Joson.
Each journey we take brings us a wealth of knowledge and experiences, as well as a deep sense of appreciation and understanding. They teach us to become better individuals and citizens by making us realize just how lucky we are to be alive today. Imagine seeing with our very own eyes the magnificent wildlife of Africa, the architectural and engineering marvels of ancient Egypt, Rome, and China, and the dynamic geology of our home planet Earth.
May the voyages we've taken and the people and places that we've visited also inspire you to embark on your own journey of exploration.
On safari at Thornybush Game Reserve in South Africa.
Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.
Pyramid of Khafre in Giza, Egypt.
The Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
Roman Forum, Italy.
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City.
The Great Wall near Beijing, China.
Edwin and Imelda's photograph of the Forbidden City in Beijing.