I was born in Tewksbury, Massachusetts to Joe and Naomi Candora. From a young age I had a love of travel. Our family; mother, father, two sisters and myself were on the road every summer weekend and every vacation since I was in diapers. Some of my very first memories were of Scottish bagpipers in Nova Scotia when I was still preschool. We were a middle class family so our travels were limited to New England, New York and the Canadian maritime provinces. I think the wanderlust bred into me was from my father. After graduating high school during the depression he spent time in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Project Administration (WPA). This was his first taste of life outside the big city (he was born in Boston). He ended up in the army during World War Two and spent time in Northern Africa, Australia, India, Burma and China. When he talked about his wartime experiences it was never about the battles he was in but about the people and places he had seen. During his time in Morocco a German POW gave him a carved walking stick as gratitude for fair treatment during captivity. In India a Gurkha soldier gave him a kukri knife as a sign of friendship.
These are two of my most prized possessions today. He told a story of how when he was invited to dinner by an Indian family he insisted on eating with his hand as was their custom and the gratitude they had for this gesture. My father’s stories of exotic locales and the family trips with my sisters and parents instilled in me a passion for travel I hope to foster in my son. My paternal grandfather was born and raised on a farm in the foothills of Mount Vesuvius near Napoli in the Campania region of Italy. Because of my paternal lineage I am eligible for Italian citizenship and am pursuing dual citizenship status.
My mother was born in Eastport, Maine and was opposite from my father. She was the typical stoic Mainer who did not tolerate people that she did not have to interact with. Where my father was rough and tumble and outgoing, always starting conversations with whoever he met, my mother was much more reserved. The reason we did not travel south of New York state was her aversion to hot weather. My mother’s lineage was mixed with Scottish, Welsh and French ancestry. In fact my great-great-great-great-great grandfather was Joseph Paul Compte de Grasse of revolutionary war fame. A great source of pride for my family.
I attended university at the University of Lowell, now know as University of Massachusetts Lowell and received a bachelor’s degree in biological science. Graduate school at the Florida Institute of Technology and back at U. Lowell with majors in molecular biology and biochemistry followed. After graduate school I had two extended trips to Europe staying with my sister and brother-in-law who was stationed in Germany. As I started my career in quality assurance at major New England dairies I would take extensive road trips to the major western national parks and between jobs drove to Alaska via the Trans Canadian and Alaska highways. During this time frame I also took many canoe trips deep into wilderness areas of the northeast.
My life changed forever when Rita and Alex entered into it. We now enjoy travel together as a family and I see the world through a different lens. Now even the smallest destinations are a source of wonder for us because we are experiencing them together.
JOE’S BUCKET LIST
I have been to a few places on my list but with retirement looming I hope to tick off quite a few more. Let’s see if a lifetime of anticipation will meet expectations.
Alaska Paris London
- Timbuktu, Mali
- Mount Kilimanjaro
- Taj Mahal
- Petra, Jordan
- Greek Islands
- South Pacific
- South Pole
- Outer Space
- Arapongas, Paraná Brazil (my wife’s hometown!!)
White water rafting Week plus long canoe trip
- Take a foraging class
- Snorkle a Coral Reef
- Swim with dolphins
Drive the Alaska Highway (BC, Canada to Fairbanks, AK)
- Running with the Bulls Paplona, Spain
- Eat Mashwee at the Jemaa el-fnaa in Marrakesh, Morroco
- Eat at restaurant on the “Pig Highway” in Puerto Rico
- Eat a multi-course tasting menu at a five star restaurant
Eat street food in Asian Street Market
- Travel the Silk Road
- Trans-Siberian Railroad
- Drive the entire length of the old Route 66
- Drive the Pan-American Highway
- Angel Falls
- Victoria Falls
- Iguazu Falls
- Amazon River Cruise (Meeting of Waters)
Yellowstone National Park
- Big Five Game Safari
- Tristan da Cunha
- Bouvet Island
- Foothills of the Himalaya Nepal or Tibet
Gettysburg Old North Bridge Concord, MA Normandy D-Day Beaches WW I and WWII battlefields in France and Belgium
- MesoAmerican Ruins
- Sites of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world
- Burma Road in Myanmar/China
- Assam India