Travelers: BECA International Artists

When Steve Behal and Jeannie Catchpole met professionally in Toronto, Canada (as photographer and graphic artist respectively) in 1984 they discovered that they were born and raised less than 40 miles apart and attended Sheridan College of Art at the same time. They continued working on freelance projects in Toronto until Catchpole moved to Sun Valley, Idaho. Nearly 25 years later (read about their Paris romance and reconnection in this interview) with respective art careers, Behal & Catchpole reunited in 2008, fell in love, and spontaneously began painting on the same canvas. The result was warp speed artistic growth and BECA International Artists.

Travel on with ConciergeQ's interview series TRAVELERS, featuring BECA International Artists.

ConciergeQ: What is your first memory of traveling?

BECA International Artists: Aware of a desire to travel at a young age, I consciously sought a penpal from a different culture, getting to know them through mail correspondence with the ultimate goal of visiting them between high school and college. Geeta Diptee lived in Trinidad with her family above the family bookstore. We wrote to each other often for four years while I saved summer job money to fly to see her.

My flight to Trinidad was also my first solo travel experience and my very first flight. I was 18. The sensation of flying was exciting and liberating. It was a declaration of independence from my large family. The experience of living with a family for two weeks during Christmas with no snow, a Christmas tree made from dead branches and cotton balls is still vivid. Eating under-cooked chicken and being expected to eat the bones felt more intimidating than being hissed at as the tallest, only white, blond person in town. I felt safe only by my naivety.

CQ: Share a favorite travel memory.

BECA: Compromising one travel experience with another was out of the question, while planning a long desired trip to Paris in 2008, so I decided to go solo ... again. Two months before my flight I reunited with an old friend in Toronto who I hadn't seen in 25 years. I knew intuitively that he would make the BEST traveling companion, so I invited him to join me and thankfully he accepted.

Sharing sensitivities, aesthetics, and hunger for culture and fine food, we fell in love while walking the streets of Paris. Now, my husband, Steve Behal and I have traveled a lot together and love long road trips, but falling in love in Paris is my favorite memory.

CQ: Tell us a travel tale…

BECA: A solo trip in 2007 took me first to Perth Australia to visit my sister and her husband with a stop in Fiji on my return flight. The plan was to take a tiny plane to a remote island for some R&R at a boutique resort. I so wanted to stay in the Taveuni Treehouse, Maravu Plantation with ocean view and private outdoor heart-shaped pool filled by a waterfall right off the bedroom suite, but it was the popular "always booked" cabin and was over my budget. I selected a smaller cabin in the forest.

As my departure date approached a political coup was on the rise in Fiji. I called my travel agent friend for advice. She said through a smile that, "coups in Fiji were common. Leaders on both sides plan the date of takeover as not to interfere with their children's soccer matches. The country relies on tourism so you will be safely protected by young policemen in cute shorts." I kept my plan in place.

When I arrived at the resort, they said that all other guests had cancelled and I could have the cabin of my choice. Although the Treehouse was terrific, in hindsight, I would have enjoyed the honeymoon style accommodations more, if had I gone with Steve. 

CQ: What is your favorite travel song?

BECA: Songs I heared while traveling remind me years later of the feelings I had at the time of the adventure. I heard Eric Clapton's acoustic version of "Layla" for the first time on a drive over the Peace Bridge to Niagara, Ontario with my son, Jamie. I get planted in that car with him every time I hear that song.

CQ: Which TRAVELER should ConciergeQ interview next?

BECA: Charles Kassatly. Charles is a good friend of ours, a well-traveled actor, writer, filmmaker, producer, Canadian, American, Lebanese...

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