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Holding hands around the world

Globetrotter Anita Ream brings—and makes—friends wherever she goes

Created date

January 12th, 2017
Linden Ponds’ National Park Explorers in front of Mount Rushmore.

Linden Ponds’ National Park Explorers in front of Mount Rushmore (from left) Anita Ream, Carol Rako, Ann Roche, Marion Martin, Alice Pecce, and Pamela Meyer.

Anita Ream has always loved to travel. She was born and raised in Chile, and her father was in the Chilean Navy, so the family moved around the country when Anita was a child. When she was 18, she took an 18-day trip around Europe, which officially ignited her desire to explore the world.

“I’ve always been interested in travel because I am interested in other cultures, other religions, and other people,” she says. “That is why I travel.”

From hobby to business

After she married, Anita moved to the United States. Her husband worked in international sales, and she was able to accompany him on several trips. 

In her fifties, Anita joined an organization called Friendship Force, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that dispatches volunteers to countries around the world with the mission of fostering cultural understanding and peace through “global friendship.” 

Anita’s first Friendship Force adventure was a two-week stay in Germany. 

“It was outstanding because we really got to know the country,” Anita says. “We made lasting, lifelong friends.”

Back in the States, Anita helped to start a local Friendship Force chapter in New Jersey, where she lived for many years. She chaperoned a trip to Ukraine for 21 kids in the 1980s, which she says was a very memorable experience. 

“I’ve always tried to make some difference in some way,” she says. “I love to try putting a hand out to make a friend anywhere in the world.”

When she was in her sixties, Anita decided to take an entrepreneurial approach to travel. She started a tour company called Anitours. Over the course of about 15 years, she took groups on tours of 77 different countries. 

“I was very successful with repeat clients because they were very happy with what I did,” Anita says. “I took people all over the world.”

In 2009, Anita moved to Linden Ponds, the Erickson Living community in Hingham, Mass. She had relocated from Pennsylvania to Abington, Mass., to be closer to her daughter and decided Linden Ponds was the right place for her retirement. 

From Norway to Nova Scotia

At Linden Ponds, Anita discovered the perfect way to continue to use her travel industry experience. A resident-run group called the National Park Explorers was in search of a new leader. Anita stepped up to the plate and has since greatly expanded the club’s scope. 

Membership has grown from just 7 people to 85, and Anita says 8 to 12 people typically go on each trip. 

Previously, the group took one annual trip to a national park in the U.S., but under Anita’s leadership, the group began visiting national parks in other countries, starting with her native Chile. Now, the globetrotting club members go on three trips each year, exploring every corner of the planet.

“My friends are all over the world,” Anita says. “So to keep working by being part of the National Park Explorers and bringing people from Linden Ponds to other countries is so rewarding.”

In addition to recent national park adventures to Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, and Yellowstone, the National Park Explorers have also traveled to Iceland, Norway, Nova Scotia, and Azores, an archipelago off the coast of Portugal. 

Of course, planning the trips takes quite a bit of legwork. Anita says it keeps her busy, but she’s happy to provide the service for her neighbors.

“It’s very rewarding for me because it keeps me doing something I love,” Anita says. “It’s wonderful that I have the opportunity, by living here at Linden Ponds, to continue to do this.”

In February, the group will travel to Costa Rica. Anita says trips to the Canadian Rockies and Croatia are also in the works for 2018.

“Because I have so much experience, I can put together a tour anywhere we want to go, so we’ve been asking club members to suggest places they would like to go,” Anita says. “I love to take people with me to places where I have been before.”

Of all the continents and countries Anita has visited over the years, she says some of her favorite stops have been in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. 

She also says the Himalayan Mountains are one of the most beautiful sights she has seen. 

When she’s traveling, Anita likes to get to know the locals and spend time in nature. 

“I’m not too much of a museum person, but I like to see beautiful scenery and countryside,” she says. 

Is there anywhere this world traveler hasn’t been? That’s the question many people ask when they learn about Anita’s global adventures. There is one place still on her to-see list.

“I have never been to Cuba,” she says. “Ever since I was little, I have wanted to go there.”