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Stories of Hope from Five World Destinations

Andrew Davidson, author of the novel The Gargoyle, once wrote, “I am more than my scars.”

The COVID-19 pandemic brought havoc to our world. “Shelter in place,” “flatten the curve,” and “social distancing” will be phrases forever etched in our memories.

While some have a hard time believing life will normalize again, history is filled with reminders that societies have rebounded in miraculous ways despite wars, devastation, pandemics, and instability.

These destinations are a few of the many reminders of what can be overcome and that we’ll once again travel to places where hope springs eternal and all is not lost.


James Michener’s novel Hawaii, published in 1959, is a tragic reminder of how European sailors and Christian missionaries brought devastation and disease to the Hawaiian Islands, killing nearly 80% of the indigenous population by 1819. As a result, the native Hawaiian culture was almost lost.

Today, Oahu’s Polynesian Cultural Center, the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives, and Maui’s Lahaina Heritage Museum are places to learn about Hawaii’s rich history, helping visitors and residents alike discover the cultural diversity of these magnificent islands

Pompeii and Herculaneum

On August 24, 79 A.D., in the Bay of Naples, Italy, the earth roared. Mount Vesuvius erupted during one of Europe’s deadliest volcanic events. It spewed molten rock, hot gases, and ash, obliterating several Roman cities, including Pompeii and Herculaneum. Thousands were killed.

Not only do these ancient cities lure fascinated visitors to their historic excavations, but the mesmerizing beauty of the Amalfi Coast is a stone’s throw away. The rich volcanic soils of the region produce some of Italy’s best wines, lemons, and tomatoes.


Blessed with awe-inspiring natural wonders like Victoria Falls, the wild Zambezi River, and mesmerizing wilderness, Zambia was once the former British colony of Northern Rhodesia. All this belies the southern African country’s dark history of ethnic tension and extreme economic instability, fallouts of the collapse of its copper mining industry.

Once the land of big game trophy hunting, poaching, and massive exploitation of its natural resources, the region has made great strides in nature and wildlife protection. Vigilant game wardens include some former poachers who now safeguard precious wildlife. Now tourism reigns supreme and, today, safari hunters are far more apt to shoot game through the lens of a camera.


Countless movies, documentaries, and stories have chronicled the horrors of the Vietnam War.

Millions of combatants and innocent lives were lost in the ill-fated conflict. Hundreds of thousands of children were orphaned and farmlands were ruined. Chemical warfare poisoned thousands and defoliated the country’s jungles and forests.

Present-day Vietnam is now one of Asia’s most popular destinations. Modern cities blend with colonial architecture and sport fascinating ethnic markets. Tranquil temples, pagodas, and verdant valleys dot the countryside. Visitors tout the beaches and glistening waters of the China Sea. And who doesn’t love Vietnam’s amazing cuisine?


Located within the Balkan highlands, this amazing region features nature and multi-cultural architecture in perfect harmony. But this area is also associated with the heartbreaking three-year civil war of the 1990s, scarring both the land and its people.

Today’s visitors, however, will admire the picturesque country for the magnificent mountain landscapes, medieval castle ruins, impressive waterfalls, and the warm people. Historic cobblestone streets are lined with charming cafes and lovely boutiques. Flowers seem to be everywhere. 


Noreen Kompanik

Noreen Kompanik is a freelance journalist, associate editor, and speaker from San Diego. A retired registered nurse, she now travels the world and writes about her adventures. Her stories have appeared in TravelPulse, Edible San Diego Magazine, Europe Up Close, International Living and more.

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