by JAE-HA KIM and Tribune Content Agency, Celebrity Travel, October 4, 2016
Best known as one of the most famous supermodels of the '90s, Christy Turlington Burns is the founder of the nonprofit organization Every Mother Counts (http://www.everymothercounts.org/), which is dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for mothers. After experiencing childbirth complications herself, she directed the documentary, "No Woman, No Cry." Currently, she is helping to promote "The Belly Art Project: Moms Supporting Moms" (St. Martin's Press, $29.99), which was created by Spanx founder Sara Blakely. Proceeds from the book will benefit Every Mother Counts. Turlington Burns resides in New York City with her husband, filmmaker Edward Burns, and their two children. Fans may stay in touch with her via Twitter (https://twitter.com/cturlington) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/everymomcounts/).
Q: How do you familiarize yourself with a new destination?
A. I used to read everything I could about a new place before arriving, but I prefer experiencing places and things and don't want to start off with a preconceived notion. I always try to read literature from the place I'm visiting or working in while there. For example, I read "Mountains Beyond Mountains" before my first trip to Haiti and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" before my first trip to Tanzania more than 25 years ago. Once I get to a place, I go for a run. In the past five years, I have been running marathons with Every Mother Counts.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. El Salvador. My mother is from El Salvador and it is a country I have visited many time throughout my life. Whenever I go back, I am struck by the beauty of the colonial architecture in the cities and the Mayan ruins. The countryside, volcanic black sand beaches and Lake Coatepeque are just beautiful. And, pupusas are my absolute favorite cuisine.
Q. What is your favorite destination?
A. I have many favorite destinations, but at the top of that list is Tanzania. I've been to Tanzania 10 times, most recently in 2015 when I ran the Kilimanjaro half-marathon. I'll be running it again in 2017 to raise awareness for my organization.
Q. To someone who was going there for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?
A. Tanzania has many incredible sites to see and experience. Mt. Kilimanjaro, for starters, which I climbed in 1999, has an elevation of 19,341 feet. It's Africa's tallest mountain. A third of the country is protected land with 16 national parks, including the Serengeti and Tarangire. The Kilimanjaro Half and Full Marathon was my first race outside of the United States in 2015. The course is challenging, but worth it. It's also one of the most stunning courses I have run, because you can see Mt. Kilimanjaro from it. Zanzibar is a part of the Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa. The beaches and people are truly stunning and the architecture in Stone Town is incredible.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. I grew up in California, so my first international trip was probably Mexico because it was so close, but it may have been El Salvador or Guatemala, because in those days you had to fly through Guatemala to get to El Salvador. My parents both worked for Pan Am, so travel has been a part of my life since birth. I inherited my love of it from them, no doubt. I loved the smells and sounds of that region and the colors and food. I was just back in Guatemala with my daughter this summer visiting an initiative that we support called Asociacion Corazon del Agua, which is working to improve maternal health care access and quality by training indigenous students to become university-level midwives. Re-experiencing the country through her eyes was magical. It's also really special returning to countries like Tanzania and Guatemala that I love and to be able to contribute something as needed as maternal health care.
Q. Have you traveled to a place that stood out so much that you felt compelled to incorporate it into your work?
A. I think it has worked the other way around. I think about countries I have visited that need the support and it helps to narrow down all of the options when planning ahead and looking at new partners for our organization. There is so much need out there and here at home in the U.S. Choosing where to focus and direct funds when you are addressing a global tragedy like maternal mortality is tough.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. I am from the Bay Area and love San Francisco. I love New York too, of course, and think of this city as home. Other favorite cities are Florence, Dublin, Buenos Aires.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
This article was written by JAE-HA KIM and Tribune Content Agency from Celebrity Travel and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.