Junior Marianne Duncan spends free time traveling, exploring diverse places
From the crisp forest air of Yellowstone to the sunny beaches of Belize, junior Marianne Duncan can be found all across North America, experiencing the joys that the world has to offer. Whether her day holds mountain hiking, cliff jumping or tree climbing, she is always up for an adventure.
“My life would be different if I hadn’t experienced all of the things I have while traveling,” she said. “It’s one of my biggest passions.”
A natural-born traveler, Duncan has ventured to over 35 locations with family and friends, including states like Arkansas and cities like Cozumel. However, one of her most memorable vacations was to Honduras.
“I went snorkeling in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in Honduras, and the colors and wildlife were absolutely amazing. I saw a cuttlefish and a parrot fish, which were both completely new to me. I can’t even describe how beautiful it was,” Duncan said.
For Duncan, a vacation is not a vacation without boatloads of pictures. Her social media profiles are filled with different posts that highlight her travels.
“Taking pictures of the places I go is one of the best parts. If you ask anyone in my family, I’m always taking pictures,” she said. “Sometimes, I will forget that I went somewhere, then find a picture and remember the whole thing.”
The Duncan family is not a simple “summer vacation” type family—they spend nearly every summer and school break at their home-away-from-home in Island Park, Idaho. While they are away, they are able to get to many of nature’s wonders, such as Yellowstone National Park. Duncan feels that there is just not much to see in Florida, and a change of scenery is nice.
“I really enjoy the cabin and the time away from the craziness of life. I’ve seen a bunch of interesting animals there, such as elks and mountain goats,” Duncan said. “It’s very secluded. The nearest Wal-Mart is an hour away.”
As much as Duncan loves traveling, it can be hard. Spending months away from her hometown and her friends is not always easy, she says. Every so often, she will feel a twinge of homesickness, but she is always able to overcome it.
“I try to FaceTime and chat with my friends on a daily basis so I don’t feel too distanced,” Duncan said. “Taking online classes during the summer helps, as well. It keeps me busy while I’m not out exploring.”
International travel can come with many challenges, whether its culture shock, limited safety or being surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Duncan had a staggering experience during her time in Belize.
“We were at a strip mall and a man sitting around the corner offered me weed in exchange for sneaking him into the United States,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. I freaked out and walked away.”
But that was not the only thing that happened to Duncan in Belize. With her adventurous and risk-taking spirit, she decided to climb up a 25-foot tall coconut tree, leading to what she refers to as a “near-death experience.”
“Coconut trees are straight up with no branches, so it took a lot more strength and endurance than I estimated. I was scared that I’d fall off,” Duncan said.
After obtaining the coconut, she was able to drink its milk and safely make her way down the tree.
As traveling is a staple in Duncan’s life, she is sure that she will continue to enjoy it after high school.
“Hopefully, my future career allows me to go on vacations and travel with my family,” she said. “It is really important to me that my future children are able to experience all the great things that I have.”
All things considered, Duncan intends to pursue her passion for traveling throughout the rest of her life, dreaming to visit places even as far away as South Asia.
“I love traveling simply because I love seeing the world,” Duncan said.