Her Next Greatest Adventure Awaits
June 2023 Issue
by Lesley Kyle
Photography (top) by T.R. Love, T.R. Media World
Blanca Gregory loves a good adventure.
Blanca came to the United States from Mexico to help her older sister, Maria, with her new baby. She met her soon-to-be husband a month later and moved to Charlotte in 1996. In 2010, when her life changed and it was time to move on, Blanca relocated to Bluffton where another brother and sister lived. In keeping with Mexican tradition, Blanca’s family has always remained close. One of five children, Blanca looked up to Maria as a role model and mentor. Maria encouraged Blanca to seize life and to be adventurous—advice Blanca not only took to heart, but also eventually embraced full-throttle.
From a young age, Blanca has loved to dance. Always up for a challenge, Blanca has taken dancing lessons for years and regularly participated in a Salsa Congress. She will attend the first in-person Congress since COVID this July in Orlando. The schedule is physically and mentally demanding: Delegates are instructed and practice from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. with short rests and meal breaks. They then dance again for fun between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. While Blanca doesn’t attend to perform, she participates for the mental stimulation, to learn, and, most importantly, to have fun.
Travelling to see and experience different destinations—either with her girlfriends or by herself— inspires Blanca. Her goal is to explore each of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and she has already visited three: Chichén Itzá, Mexico; the Colosseum in Rome (twice); and the Great Wall of China. The trip to China is among her favorites. There, she met new people, forged friendships, enjoyed delicious cuisine and unparalleled pollution. Meticulously planning her trips, Blanca prioritizes safety as a single traveler, but finds stimulation in other ways. “I love to get lost,” said Blanca, “and I did just that in Venice, Italy. Each street is unique, with different stores and things to see—it is romantic and beautiful.” One day, Blanca said she walked and walked, only to find she had circled and returned to the same spot.
Adventure also has a way of finding Blanca. On an excursion with friends, she expected to watch one of them try skydiving, only to find herself donning a parachute on a dare. From spectator to parachutist, Blanca reported that her jump “was the most adrenaline she ever experienced.” As it happens, the friend who issued the dare didn’t jump, but Blanca couldn’t possibly back down from the dare. Once she committed, there was no turning back, and she executed a perfect landing with the assistance of her instructor. “When you’re happy with yourself,” said Blanca, “everything works out. Be positive and good things will come.”
Blanca planned a three-week trip to Europe with a good friend who intentionally deceived her on the way to Paris. Already on board the flight, said friend acknowledged she had been to Paris and wasn’t looking to return. The friend departed abruptly, leaving Blanca alone to sort out her next steps. “I was afraid, but I didn’t cry. I carried on and I got lost, but I planned activities once I got settled and had the best time ever.” During this adventure, she enjoyed champagne at the Eiffel Tower and learned some important life lessons. As a single traveler, she skipped the clubs and remained close to or in her hotel at night. The trip ultimately became a huge confidence booster for Blanca—a boost her friend knew she needed. She gained courage to venture out on her own. Bilingual in Spanish and English, she also discovered she needn’t be afraid of not knowing a language. With newfound confidence and savviness, she later reconnected in Vienna with the same friend who left her to fend for—and find—herself.
Maria and Blanca will soon reunite in Veracruz, Mexico. Two new Seven Wonders of the World list trips are planned for later this year: Machu Picchu, Peru; and Petra, Jordan. Blanca plans to eventually visit the Taj Mahal in India, and El Cristo, the Christ the Redeemer Statue, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to complete her “Seven Wonders” list.
Blanca’s plan is to travel another two years before slowing down. “You have to go with the flow,” she said with an infectious giggle. “Make the best of every situation, and you’ll always be happy.” Then again, she may revisit that timeline and pursue her next great adventure—or perhaps it will once again find her.
The New Seven Wonders of the World list was released in 2000 and includes: The Great Wall of China; Chichén Itzá; Petra, Jordan; Machu Picchu, Peru; Christ the Redeemer; The Colosseum; and The Taj Mahal.