“Over every mountain, there’s a path although it may not be seen from the valley.” (Theodore Roethke)
So it’s day three of our Ecuador trip and you might say I’ve lost the sensation of what the equator is actually like. Certainly our morning drive from Guayaquil through some flood soaked fields and lush tree covered lowlands evoked glimpses of true rainforest potential. I might also add that as we sweated out a scheduled tourist walk through a cacao and banana filled jungle accompanied by swarms of mosquitos, I took in a realistic glimpse what life on the equator might really be like.
But such beautiful tropical fruits and dense trees strands that I would expect on the equator vanished somehow into a perpetual cloud mist as our tour bus now conquered the Central Andes range of Ecuador on our arduous ride to Cuenca. With elevations exceeding more than 13,000 feet and temperatures dropping significantly in this cloud rain forest environs.”, I imagined myself more appropriately in the Alps of Switzerland or Austria during their cool summer seasonal time. When the cloud cover finally diminished at Tres Cruces, the highest point of our ascent, another kind of fog seemed to occupy my mind. For I now felt noticeably disoriented and needed to feel a blast of cold air at this stunningly beautiful tour bus stop to regain my bearings.
So as I consider myself fortunate to have overcome my fear of extreme mountain heights , I look forward to getting back on track for some exciting equator views as we begin our descent into Cuenca. For at least I can see again where we are going. Enjoy the photos￼.
“I hope before long to press you in my arms and shall shower on you a million burning kisses as under the equator.” ( Napoleon Bonaparte )
The closest statement to reality that I can think of on our first day in Guayaquil, Ecuador would be diving into a hot sweaty bowl filled with strange equatorial images that I deeply desire to sense more deeply. For there are several lessons to be learned as I reflect quietly by the muddy river that flows slowly through the city.
Strange tropical trees, colorfully exploding flowers and indigenous people statues seem to pop out of nowhere to break up the craziness of this traffic snarled city surrounding them. A large iguana stands its ground when I approach along a quiet pedestrian square. A statued man looking stately beyond from his inviting park bench seat reminds me to slow down and ponder this “tropical soup” more deeply.
Then there’s the river itself that flows continuously from the Andes to mark the commercial importance of Guayaquil as an industrial center of Ecuador today. But I am most curious to know its origin up river to the Andes from where it has flowed from. For we head into these mysterious highlands of Ecuador’s interior tomorrow. Enjoy the photos
By the way, I loved hearing my wife scream with joy when she finally received her suitcase in our hotel over 24 hours after our arrival
” Lost luggage is an opportunity to stay afloat.”(Chris Evans)
You know it’s not a good sign when you arrive in early morning at the airport to check in your luggage and observe huge piles of suitcases stacked incoherently in layers behind an American Airlines reception desk. In our case, the cause of this calamity at Miami International Airport as we were told came from a total computer shutdown at the airport overnight.
So it seemed imminent that one or both of our two boarded suitcases on our flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador would not arrive at our final destination when we landed. As expected, my blue suitcase came through quickly upon arrival in the airport baggage tunnel ok but my wife’s red luggage bag did not.
Know then our tragic saga would now escalate when we found out soon after by email that my wife’s baggage would arrive on a flight later that evening. But that flight from Miami would also be late, leaving the possibility that her luggage would not arrive by the time our Ecuador tour began the next day. So in the meantime I resorted to comically sharing my men’s clothing with her as well as some toiletries with hope that the situation would resolve itself soon.
But let’s take a more positive look at this most irritating travel predicament. In the absence of your travel suitcase, one might evolve into a person acting much differently than their previous ways. For it seems to be a matter of how one chooses to respond to such airport related crisis.
He or she for example might consider such loss of their material possessions as a “wake up” call to focus more on what really matters. With less stuff to carry, you can try to make life simpler for yourself where needs not wants become your primary focus. Or one might also consider the loss of their baggage as fresh start to act humbler and more caring toward others who wish to share with you in such trying times. Don’t waste these opportunities. Make them count!
” Visionary decision-making happens at the intersection of intuition and logic.” (Paul O’Brien)
There’s never a perfect time for Ruth and me to travel these days but the opportunity cost of foregoing our next adventure must be seriously weighed with the personal value of actually going. In the case of next week’s planned adventure to Ecuador, I can therefore make a good case for conducting this upcoming journey from either a rational or intuitive perspective. So I’d like to proceed forward with this entry by showing such a balance minded mindset of both obvious logic and more deep seated emotions below to clear the air of any lingering travel apprehensions. As a side note, I just found out in the last day that a strong earthquake of 6.8 on the Richter Scale hit Ecuador yesterday near the Pacific coast, with the epicenter fifty miles away from our landing city there at Guayaquil.Of course I’m staying tuned in for current developments about this natural disaster, but with great relief I’ve been told by “Gate One” our travel company, that the trip will definitely go on.
ECUADOR FROM A RATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
I just celebrated my birthday yesterday so what better gift can I envision than embarking on an appealing travel experience abroad. Certainly with lingering personal matters going on with both sides of our respective families, those ten days of exploring Ecuador will also give my wife and me a nice mental health break from this impending crisis at home. Having completed several trips with “Gate One” before, we also have full confidence that their experienced tour guide choices for this adventure will serve us efficiently. With twelve pounds of weight loss in the last month as well, I look forward to being in better physical shape for hiking on this occasion. But if my cranky knees act up along the way, I’ll bring two walking sticks to maintain better balance as needed.
ECUADOR FROM AN INTUITIVE PERSPECTIVE
Ecuador in my mind appears to be taken straight out of the plot of one of my favorite novels – The Celestine Prophecy. For as several of the insights in this fictional account of a lone adventurer stick strongly in my mind, I realize there are hidden lessons to be learned from Ecuador’s unplanned chance encounters. So I dare to spontaneously experience Ecuador culture during our ten day tour that covers (1) densely populated cities, (2) mountainous Andes regions and (3) wild equatorial terrains. In fact those coincidences have already started as I’ve informally conversed with several South American born individuals in my yoga classes who’ve whetted my curiosity for exploring such homelands I’ve never seen. It relevant to me that I’ve also noticed my increasing interest in listening quietly to classical or New Age music most notably combined with light yoga sessions. For during those occasions, I am insightfully realizing that any negative thoughts about traveling through Ecuador do pass through my mind temporarily but eventually will be gone. In further exploring my intuition, I’ve arisen on several mornings, sensing a need to explore a new physical appearance, unshaven with a long sought intention to regrow my beard. Thus as I take a break from South Florida madness to hopefully enjoy Ecuador, this might be the ideal time to begin that experiment.
Most likely then, I’m in for a strong test of my physical stamina and emotional status during this arduous ten day journey upcoming to Ecuador next week. But I choose to overcome any lingering doubts, fears, or other unspoken apprehensions. Let the test of will begin. For I’m most certainly “up” for the challenge.
“ A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection..“ ( Patrick Rothfuss)
Last week, I presented part one of my recent mini road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa with the intention of retracing the exact route I took in the mid 1970s during my undergraduate days to and from the University of South Florida.You might recall as well in this previous entry that I planned to drive at a more leisurely pace so I could then stop along the way whenever I wanted, hoping past memories of notable landmarks would resurface at will. Using the cover photo of this blog and followup paragraphs, you can thus review the 2nd leg of this blog covering (1) past and present memories of two small towns along the Central Florida portion of my original route to USF along Route 60, (2) a noteworthy foot path I frequented to and from classes on this main campus itself, and (3) some memorable shoreline movement experiences along Old Tampa Bay.
Note in addition that I will continue my re- assessment about this nostalgic adventure to USF in 2023, with regard to the following questions below that continually occupied my mind during that time.
1. What’s changed or remained the same from such visual impressions?
2. What self revelations about living my life in the moment more today can be revealed by such time observations?
BARTOW: OLD SOUTH IN TRANSITION
The sleepy town of Bartow, Florida in my college days acquired its name from Francis Bartow, a famous Confederate general of the Civil War. Thus it’s no surprise that those drives through the town always impressed upon me with a seemingly unchanging “Old South” spirit where one could live, work, and worship peacefully likely among those of their own kind. Thus in waiting impatiently in the past to cross the old railroad junction along Route 60 to bypass Bartow’s downtown, I might have witnessed on occasion church bells from the 1st Baptist Church ringing to announce upcoming Bible sermons, company pickup trucks returning “blue collar” workers to the local phosphate mill, or a country hardened old timer” hobbling crossing the road. Based on on those previous memories, I could thus never envision during my latest jaunt in 2023 that Bartow would be making a serious effort to create a more inclusive public community involving a serious effort in to attract a more diverse and friendlier pedestrian appearance downtown. I thus realize that other small town Southern communities as Bartow with such a forward thinking growth management would make excellent places to stay on future road trips “off the beaten path”
MULBERRY: A DIRE ENVIRONMENTAL PROSPECT
Eight mile west of Barstow lies Mulberry, which I vividly recall from my college days as a factory company town victimized by a perpetual cloud of phosphate dust emanating from surrounding mills. But I would always try to ignore this putrid smell by counting on Mulberry as a convenient destination for simply finding a cheap gas fill up or a quick restroom stop before finding my way to or from the more congested environs of Tampa. In 2023, continuing phosphate mining operations on both sides of Route 60 now permanently scar the surrounding environs with sickening slag piles, unsightly factory shells, and toxic foul air. Such corporate greed conducted at the cost of environmental destruction is truly wrong. So with the impending climate crisis now threatening our earth, it seems the right time for me to actively participate in volunteer land and water cleanup efforts as well as citizen protest demonstration movements in South Florida and on our road trips when I can.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA: A HOME OF ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE
One of the attributes that immediately attracted me to the University of South Florida relates to its spread out landscape encompassing natural greenery of the region for over1500 acres. Such spontaneous moments like studying for an exam under the shaded canopy of an old oak tree or attending those intensely raucous rallies on the historic hill adjacent to the old Student Union definitely occupied my mind as I entered the campus again last week as a past alumni alumni graduate of the University’s Education Department. Yet I also recall that walking from place to place seemed quite difficult in those times given the considerable travel distance I hurriedly trekked then between each building in order to arrive at class on time. So it made sense for me to retake such a challenging hike along a familiar pedestrian walkway retracing my steps to and from those academic areas of music, social science, and education where my classes originally met. Shuffling at a slower pace on this occasion, I seemed quite observant of passing students briskly making their way around these spacious campus grounds as well as a rebellious student street protest taking place along an adjacent campus street. Such “now” impressions seemed to be a fitting welcome back to my college town home where serious immersion to attain well rounded academic excellence and serious issue involvement most deservedly continues on like I remember from 1970 to 1974. To never stop learning seems to matter more than ever to me now as I attempt to continue leading a fulfilling life in retirement.
OLD TAMPA BAY: YOUTH FILLED REMEMBRANCES
I often wonder why my long road to the University of South Florida from Fort Lauderdale typically runs beyond the college itself. But I’d obtained a long history of enjoying Old Tampa Bay further west during my childhood when I spent several summers with my grandfather living in Tampa often fishing off old Courtney Campbell and Gandy Bridge and playfully exploring the shell filled shorelines. Such spontaneous frolic would continue during my college years as I “blew off steam” from academic pressures many times by parking my vehicle under a tree shrouded canopy to enjoy the silent presence of gentle winds over tranquil winds along the bay. So with high emotion, I settled into my most recent walk along Old Tampa Bay on the Clearwater side with similar thoughts of youthful nature enjoyment as both a recreational and mind clearing time in my present life. Thus as I practice these days more self help tools like yoga, meditation and kundalini, my recent travel experience to Old Tampa Bay powerfully reminds me to be at peace with myself whatever the circumstances and fully enjoy the now.
“A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection.” ( Patrick Rothfuss.
This week, I took a two day road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa with the intention of retracing the exact route I took in the mid 1970s during my undergraduate days to and from home to the University of South Florid. Understand that the lack of Interstate Highway coverage in Florida during those days required me then to meander 300 miles north and west along those less traveled backroads of U.S. 27 and State Highway 60 respectively to reach the main USF campus in Hillsborough County’s eastern side. Oftentimes then in my haste to show up for class or home on time, such scheduling deadlines dictated I speed along furiously while concentrating mostly to avoid bored police patrols looking for “out of towners” in rural towns along the way. So I reason that I often overlooked my actual surroundings.
Thus given the chance to do over this drive in late February, 2023 at a more leisurely driving pace, I would stop along the way whenever I wanted, hoping past memories of notable landmarks would resurface at will. In the cover photo of this blog, you can thus review the first leg of this inland map route that I followed from home through U.S. 27 north to State Road 60 then and now.
Thus hoping to re- assess this nostalgic adventure to USF in 2023, I continue this blog entry below with some thoughts about two key questions below that continually occupied my mind during that time.
1. What’s changed or remained the same from such visual impressions?
2. What self revelations about living my life in the moment more today can be revealed by such time observations?
TO SOUTH BAY: FLORIDA EVERGLADES WILDS
Upon leaving Fort Lauderdale, I immediately entered the vast subtropical expanse of the Florida Everglades along U.S 27 north to tiny South Bay village. Making a brief stop along the way to Florida Everglades Sawgrass Recreation Park, I watched eager tourists line up in droves for those noisy airboat rides into endless swampland beyond. With luck, I reasoned they might spot a lazy alligator sunning along the canal bank or perhaps observe an idle nesting rookery for rare sea birds. How ironic that time inexorably moves very slowly amid the swamps here in spite of this tourist frenzy invasion. So let’s face facts now. Whenever I feel negative energy “burnout” from the urban frenzy of South Florida, I might make it a new habit to escape to the Florida, Everglades. For it remains a green oasis of solitude whenever I need it.
CLEWISTON: LAKE OKEECHOBEE HIDING
I’ve never actually thought much about Lake Okeechobee on those many drives to Tampa as I’ve sped through the small municipality of Clewiston to and from college. Yet extending along the eastern border of this of this sweet old town, Florida’s largest lake remains a hidden freshwater gem shrouded by a steep sloping berm. So in spite of the continued visual obscurity to my eyes on this latest pass by in 2023, I’m realizing for the first that this vast basin serves as the main source of water for boat recreation, flood control, and natural drainage throughout a sizable portion of the Florida peninsula. So it’s due time I take more seriously my personal commitment to land and water environmental protection given the impending climate change crisis in future years likely to occur in the “Sunshine State.” Looking most reasonably at the Florida Everglades then, I realize as well that this rare “River of Grass” could never serve as my personal urban escape nearby without the continued preservation of Lake Okeechobee.
SEBRING: RECALLING VICTORIAN ERA GREATNESS
Upon entering now the fast growing environs of Sebring, Florida, my focus normally veers to the right side of U.S. 27 as the shorelines of Lake Jackson showcase over three acres of freshwater recreational bliss. Yet on my latest drive, I more observantly looked left to observe the visually striking remains of Harder Hall, one of the famed ” Grand Dame Hotels” built in Florida in the 1920s. How tragic then that this magnificent Victorian style Hotel structure lies now in physical ruins surrounded by a barbed wire fence and an unsightly landscape appearance. So as I sense strongly that “time marches” on to erase the glory of “Old Sebring”, it’s due time I must personally “come to grips” with the inevitability of the aging process.
LAKE PLACID: LOST FLORIDA TOURIST MECCA
My most vivid college memories remaining of Lake Placid seems to be those profitable citrus groves that suddenly appeared outside of town as I approached this midpoint of my USF journey entering central Florida. Yet such luscious oranges, lemons and grapefruit now seem to be gone as encroaching suburban growth takes over this charming small town. Thus with plenty of retail parking space to take a break on this quiet Sunday afternoon, I chose to eat my picnic lunch at a random parking lot near the center of town. Know then that about five minutes into my lunch ritual, I casually glanced back to notice with utter surprise that Lake Placid Tower, extended within short distance to me over 270 feet into the sky. Abandoned since 1986, this stunning monument once labeled as “The Happy Tower” failed to survive as a tourist mecca over time. But there’s a definite aura that remains to be admired here reminiscent of a tall beacon of light shining on all from high above. Therefore, I reason on this latest Lake Placid visit how spiritual unity serves us well as we all share in this striking human connection of our limited time on earth experience to the eternal sky.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” (Frederick Douglas)
Some of you might wonder about why one should actually attempt to lose weight when taking a fantasy cruise. Yet in my recent experience from our recent Caribbean Sea adventure, my current loss of seven pounds has definitely made a difference in my self esteem and consequent motivation to proceed with this process. So I’d like to just “cut to the chase” concerning this matter. Know then that such leisurely sea travel seemed to affect my mindset much differently than how I normally proceeded with my daily routine at home.
In such case, I first of all anticipated myself cruising the Caribbean less susceptible to such persuasive influences back home as (1) continuous media advertising of unhealthy food, (2) evening pressure to socialize around food, and (3) over-dependence on eating out at fast food venues via my car. For it seemed obvious to me in those slower sea travel moments that various combinations of these factors had encouraged me to either relinquish self control of my better health sense or to become more sedentary in South Florida each day.
Being granted more leisurely time to detach from such home life obsessions on the cruise, I now began to allot time for tracking my daily weight and exercise progress with health related apps loaded on my I phone. In this way, I could gain a more complete picture of nutrition, exercise, and other health changes that appeared to be more productive than just jumping on my weight scale at home.
With regard to nutrition, during those food tempting trips to the buffet deck for each meal on our cruise, the “eye test” proved to be my most effective tool for sticking to my plan. Thus I began to examine closely my chosen plate selection for each meal for sufficient vegetable, fruit, salad, and protein distribution along with skipping desserts and bread for sure. I also became more aware how my habit of piling on my typical portions of calorie ridden condiments like salad dressings, gravies, and other carb filled sauces would need to stop as my wife taught me to dip and sample for small tastes of these precious seasonings. In lieu of drinking those addictive sodas and fruit drinks, I began to substitute water as well.
So now that I’m home again, the real work begins. For serious changes to my daily routine must now be made on a more long term basis. I must stop trying to reward myself with food such as giving in to an enticing Subway sandwich deal or Panda Express wok special at my impulsive whim. With health matters coming first now, I’m in addition getting more serious about using my “Silver Sneakers” membership at the local gym. Accordingly, with age related conditions in mind, a continuance of my gentle yoga practice and periodic massage schedule means that that there’s both a “Yang” vs. “Yin” commitment that I must also undertake to obtain successful completion of this plan.
With our ten day tour of Ecuador coming up in late March, I foresee a fairly rigorous adventure for us ahead. Hopefully, I will have reached my goal of ten pounds shed by the time we board our flight to Quito then. In the meantime, I’ll learn to enjoy each moment on my own terms without obsessing on living too much to eat for a change.
“Exploring new places is a great way to relax and clear your mind” (Holly R. Patrick)
One might logically reason that a fourteen day cruise to eight exotic islands in the Eastern Caribbean region would resonate with passengers as a time to slow one’s pace for a restful respite from daily life struggles. Yet on the contrary, this latest cruise adventure of ours revealed to me little incentive for cruisers to change such fast paced behavior exhibited at home. In particular, I observed then that many of the on board activities seemingly designed for game show-like environs aboard ship kept passengers busy in high energy mode at various times of the day. So I often wondered why Princess Cruise Company daily announcements throughout the ship did not advertise more relaxing settings like the yoga studio, exercise area, and massage rooms each day.
Thus it seems we too might have become a victim of such sensory overload by witnessing other such lively ship routines as (1) the “bumper car” customer movement to and from the food buffet area, (2) crowd gathering mayhem for passengers waiting for island excursions to begin, as well as (3) the nightly barrage of high powered entertainment offerings in various gathering points throughout the ship. Yet Ruth and I stubbornly prioritized a more relaxing experience according to our personal interests on and off the boat when we could. Consider then in the photo set below some of our “Yin” more than “Yang” experiences in our daily wanderings on and off the boat.
” Best of an island is once you get there. You can’t go any further… you’ve come to the end of things…” (Agatha Christie)
The thought of touring eight beautiful islands in the Caribbean Basin in retrospect last week seemed so much more to me than a pleasant tourist adventure. For in my view, there’s a bit of self therapy reasoning to visit each of these places. The following original poem thus envisions how each of us might find the ideal island to visit based on our present state of mind.
ANY ISLAND WON’T DO
When Mind Needs It’s Body To Refresh Closed Doors
It’s Time For Aruba’s Sparkling Blue Shores
When Dark Memories Waste Away Your Spirit of Play
Sail East For Tanned Tranquillity In Barbados Bay
When Spurts Of Desire Wish To Turn Milk Into Cream
Fine Yacht Can Await You in St. Thomas Sprung Dream
When Heavy Heart Fears Seem Too Much For Mention
Martinique’s French Lightness Might Ease Such Tension
When Nature’s Calling Bursts In Green, Red and Blue
A Dominica Jaunt Seems The Right Place For You
So What’s Stopping You Now From Pleasurable Detach?
Just Find The Right Island That Makes A Good Match!
One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things” (Henry Miller)
Our most recent cruise vacation is now providing me with a wonderful opportunity to explore a variety of issue perspectives with regard to eight (8) interesting destinations in the Eastern Caribbean region. Such opposing opinions are thus stated below with accompanying photos for week two of this fourteen day cruise.
Barbados (Moving Up and Down)
More than any other island we’ve visited on our present cruise, we needed to work harder in Barbados to find those much sought feelings of tropical bliss. For it seemed to be a difficult task to escape the sprawling industrial look surrounding Bridgetown, our latest port of call. Perhaps we needed the exercise anyway as we began our latest tour with a brisk walk from the cruise terminal through enticing shopping corridors to our awaiting 4X4 jeep. From that point on, this “yang” experience intensified with an adrenaline rush as we grasped tightly to our seat rail when bounced up and down roughly as we steadily climbed hills to the island interior and then to the more secluded eastern shore. Thankfully, our energetic driver would stop abruptly once or twice early on this ride so we could “catch our breath” in the middle of nowhere while he engaged with passing “locals” in casual conversations. We seemed fortunate as well to take a few breaks later on from this brisk, rollercoaster like experience when our driver stopped according to his set schedule to offer us fresh sugarcane to taste, point out a cow grazing lazily in a field, describe the kinds of fruit grown on a native tree and reveal the historic meaning of a stone wall. Yet the most notable highlight of this tour took place as we descended steeply to the far eastern shore for the first time and took sight of the long white shores along amazing Bathsheba Bay. How satisfying it felt then to accomplish fifteen minutes of slow quality time spent along these tranquil beaches after this wild afternoon of “”bucking bronco” traveling effort.
Trinidad (Animal Behavior)
Looking forward to a break from the rigid time schedule of guided ship excursions and massive cruise passenger gatherings, the island of Trinidad provided a nice opportunity to self plan a tour from our Port of Spain location to a place of our own choosing. Thus as we stepped out of the cruise terminal, a feasible opportunity arose to do so upon being warmly greeted by an older looking Trinidad woman who offered an inexpensive ride at $30.00 round trip for us at the city’s well renowned Emperor Valley Zoo. So we accepted this two hour visit when the driver graciously offered to both drop us off and later pick us up at this designated time frame we desired. I can happily report that we then took our time to circulate around the zoo corridors to breathe in fresh air on this cooler than expected morning feeling strongly that some wild animals caged in close proximity to us would sense our presence to them and provide some interesting natural behavior to observe. In this regard, I soon imagined the loud cacophony of squawking parrots and toucans begging to be let out of their cage, the loud roar of the big cats feeling hungry for some new meat, the unfolding plume of a peacock proudly flirting with its mate and the squeaking monkeys calling to each other in free spirited play.
Aruba (Saving Earth)
Beautiful white sand beaches abound around much of Aruba but overdevelopment of the island presents a serious problem from a climate crisis perspective. So from my vantage point based on our latest bus excursion from our cruise stop in Oranjestad, I advise any prospective tourist who visits Aruba to decide more selectively where to go in order to experience those rugged windswept vistas and pristine shorelines that this popular island mecca for tourism is noted for. Know for instance that much of the island suffers now from a serious water shortage, especially the cactus filled interior which receives less than ten inches of rainfall per year. Along the popular west coast, rapid urban gentrification in popular tourist spots like Palm Beach and Eagle Beach means seemingly endless rows of urban sprawl and associated problems of air pollution, traffic congestion and undisposable piles of plastic and other discarded garbage along the road. With up to 12,000 cruise boat tourists arriving at times in Oranjestad on a given day, a more relaxing piece of advice then seems that a savvy tourist should prioritize a slow drive to the more remote northern tip of Aruba at Arashi Beach as we did today. Just plop down then with your sun block, sip some refreshing coconut water and watch out for the deceptive pull of the undertow when you take a dip in the Caribbean Sea.
Curacao (Range of Emotion)
From previous visits to the Dutch capital of Willemstad in Curaçao, I’ve been very much reminded that this inviting tourist spot seems to be a smaller version of Amsterdam, Holland with its accessible walkways over narrow canals into a colorfully quaint town center. But for our final tour of this cruise vacation into the interior of the island, it seemed I wanted to experience something more firsthand just than reliving nostalgic memories of past European settings. So off we went by bus instead to an island ostrich farm where our super enthusiastic guide on the park tram encouraged us to more directly encounter these prehistoric avian giants in the wilds. You might imagine how much I laughed then upon volunteering to stick my arm out with a bucket of pellets over the fence barrier as several of them anxiously pecked away at this inviting snack. Somewhat more fearfully, I also repeated the experiment again with no bucket as the toothless ostriches took the treats by awkwardly pecking my hand. But it seems that I obtained the greatest thrill at the end of this visit in noticing how a severely autistic man sitting across from me on our excursion smiled very happily as a result of this most unusual ostrich encounter.
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