The Unspoiled Queen

Visiting Saba for only 2 days, we decided it was a must to hike Mt. Scenery, the island’s (and Netherlands’) highest point. Although the travel guides describe the 1064 vertical step climb as strenuous, we were allured by the idea of hiking through the Elfin Forest, a “cloud-forest.” We took our time during the challenging, yet doable, 3 hour climb and descent, stopping to photograph the incredible vegetation and enjoying the peacefulness of no traffic on the trail. It seemed we had the cloud-forest to ourselves, until 5 mins before reaching the summit, we passed a group of children with mud to their knees, who recommended we stay to the RIGHT not the LEFT at the summit if we wanted to avoid their current muddy state. God bless children and their desire to explore, their lack of inhibition, their incredible intuition and their real-talk. With our insiders’ scoop, we knew which direction to take. Hopefully, now you do, too.

Unfortunately, the clouds rolled in when we reached the summit, so we weren’t able to see the Caribbean Sea and Saba’s neighboring islands, however, the hike still didn’t disappoint. Seeing the cloud-forest, up-close and personal, was out of this world.

Saba, you’ve earned your name, “The Unspoiled Queen.”

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Top of Mt. Scenery

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Saba
Saba

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the unspoiled sounds

Saba, “The Unspoiled Queen”

Dutch Treat

Approaching Saba’s Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, home of the shortest commercial runway in the world, and knowing Travel & Leisure has deemed the runway, “the world’s scariest,” I can’t help but focus on the island treat rather than the aeronautical feat.

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Saba, Caribbean island of the Netherlands

“Dutch Treat”

Yelp!

You must have a master sailor to navigate through the intimidating coral reef to the island.  Once there, you dock and take a Jeep on a rocky, dirt road to the opposite side of the island. You park and walk out onto the most prestine beach, and you’re asked only one question,

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Anegada, BVI

“Would you prefer chicken or lobster for lunch?”

Yelp⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️my kind of 5 stars⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Brats

I am a corporate brat.

We, corporate brats, identify with army brats.

We both grew up in households where our childhoods revolved around our parents’ careers.

Although different, we’re similar.

We, corporate brats, watched our parents fight it out in corporate America rather than on a battlefield.

We waited for our parents to return home from business trips not from deployment.

We got transferred not stationed,

but we both, inevitably, moved across the country or ocean and, usually, multiple times, during our childhoods.

The moving left its mark. We, brats, know what it’s like to be the newcomer, the one on the bench, and the person with no friends, and it’s made us tough.  It’s allowed us to relate to others who’ve been there. It’s also taught us to appreciate good friends.

Today, Lolo, the army brat, moved away from me, the corporate brat. As Lolo convoyed with her UHaul and family to CA, I, from my office, reminisced about our trust and respect-filled 23+ year friendship.

Remarkably, we’ve avoided a move during most of our adult lives, and we’ve been able to build a solid, real friendship, stationed in the same city. It’s been such a bonus to have a friend who shares in the joy of attending weekly Friday night Happy Hours, of playing 2-at-a-time Words with Friends games, of bringing to life the motto, “every meal matters,” of debriefing after every life event, and of supporting each other’s work, art and families.

It’s been an incredible journey – to travel all over the world and end up discovering true friendship while rooted in one place, safeguarded from our past corporate and army upbringings.

It’s safe to say, the brat in me sees the angel in Lolo and recognizes that our nomadic childhoods led us to exactly where we were supposed to be – once a Fulltimer, always a Fulltimer.

We’ve had great fortune, Lolo and me –

and I believe our friendship, although

it’ll be different but similar, just like our “brat beginnings,”

will be OK.

Into the sunset,  we’ll ride our Rascals (befitting for two brats) with or without a tooth lost from a Gatorade cap, and definitely,  with glasses of Lava Vine in one hand and lemon drops in the other, celebrating all that is real and good.

GBTGITH!

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“Until We Meet Again”

BackPack

“I’m not gonna lie – when I packed my backpack to leave, I got kinda teary-eyed.” – LCP

I followed the backpack around South America for 5 weeks, and now this morning, I’m watching it leave – being carried away to prepare for college graduation, but the memories of where we’ve been are packed deeply into my mind.

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Rio
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
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Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
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Patagonia, Ushuaia, Argentina
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Mendoza, Argentina
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Santiago, Chile

 

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 A backpack

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 sometimes it’s the oddest things that trigger our minds to remember where we’ve been when looking  back…

An Extra Hand

Rounding a blind corner at a Starbuck’s drive thru, I saw a woman standing against the building’s exterior in the car lane. Her appearance was startling. Missing a front tooth, wearing a dirty t-shirt and shorts, and holding a Starbuck’s coffee cup, she appeared in need. Her tan, leathery skin advertised her hours in sun, possibly days on the streets.  I kept driving.

I couldn’t get her face out of my mind, so I drove onto the freeway and took the first exit – I returned to her. She had left the lane and was headed toward the street, carrying her full pack on her back, her two bound kilim blankets in her one hand, and her Starbuck’s coffee in the other. I followed her, pulling into a small parking lot next to a preschool.  I turned off my car and went over to her.

I approached her, smiling, telling her I’d seen her in the drive-thru.  I asked if she was OK, handing her a folded twenty.

“I’m on the streets for now since the shelters are full. It’s hot out here. I’m waiting for transportation”

How long have you been on the streets?

“A couple months”

Are you from Phoenix?

“yes”

What put you on the streets?

“Circumstances. It’s hard.”

How old are you?

“54 – I mean, 45 [laugh] sorry I got confused.”

the heat will do that 

Do you have a family? children?

“yes, but I don’t know where they are”

Do you know about Interfaith shelter on 9th and Buchanan?

“yeah, I think I’ve been there.”

Here, take my iced tea. You need to stay cool.

“oh thank you but someone put a coffee next to my bag when I went inside to use the bathroom…I’m OK, I don’t need your tea.”

Please take it, it’s a cold drink, not hot like coffee.

“I appreciate you stopping.”

Please know people are out here watching out for you. I care about you. When I saw you at the drive-thru, I could tell you were a good person who needed an extra hand.

With that I got back into my car, rolled down my window and waved to her.  She didn’t have an extra hand to wave, but she smiled, and said,

“Someday I hope to get some transportation. thank you.”

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I’d been standing on the curb with this woman for only 10 minutes, and I was sweating like crazy – what must it feel like to not have a retreat from the Phoenix 110° heat and to be aimlessly roaming the streets, waiting for transporation? Gratefully, I don’t know firsthand, but I can give her an extra hand by reminding my world that she, along with so many others, exist.

They are hot, and they want a way out of their situation.

A cold bottle of water, simple conversation, or a few dollars may not fix the situation, but it sends the message,

I’m not ignoring your discomfort, and I’d like to give you an extra hand.