Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ports of Call

This is the ship that sailed away from Puerto Rico. Larger than three football fields...holding 3,000 passengers and 1,700 crew members...larger than many places some live on land.

It glided through the sea for a complete day and night, revealing vistas that I did not know existed in reality...only in my dreams. Perhaps our dreams really are snippets of places and things we have seen in our former lives? For certain, I can't say how I could stand and see something so vast and feel from deep inside, "Ah, now I remember! How wonderful to see you again!"

And, early the following morning, slowly pulling into a world far from one I know. Where things rust, or run down, or break, or become useless, but are kept around anyway. For, really, why not let sleeping dogs lie? Leave it. In the land of constant sun and breeze, time runs slow. And, no one much cares if you come or go...

Still, there is energy here of a different sort. The kind that is brought by happy souls thrilled to have the experience of seeing it all. To soak up the rays of the yellow glaring sun. To stand at the edge of where the turquoise meets the tan. To feel the salt air dry on your face and leave the wonderful gritty reminder that we are a tiny part of something so vast...yet made of the same elements. There's a spirit to island life that we don't really understand being so landlocked as we are here.

Barbados, our first port of call. Where I snorkeled and attempted to swim with the sea turtles. Which I did see, but only with a great deal of trepidation of being in 40 feet of water and snorkeling for the first time. Even so, I have to say I'd do it all over again.

And the place where my eyes welled over with salty tears at seeing all the shades of the blue marble we see another of Mother's expressions. Stunning in all ways.

Through another long night, the ship sails on till we arrive in the morning to a place made by the angry explosion of a volcano. To a tropical world with which I am not completely comfortable. Where the heat and humidity grow plants that tower over the heads of men. And, the animals and people live perched on steep slopes. A volcanic hissy fit that created vistas to make your breath catch in your throat.

Where genteel plantations were wrangled from the ground, to farm the fruits and vegetables that we take for granted. The cocoa for your cakes and hot chocolate that you snatch off grocery shelves without considering how it came to be. People, brave, left worlds known to settle on these small dots of land. To make their fortunes and names. And live lives that are hard but worth it.

Because life in paradise is worth everything, yes? To stand on your veranda with coffee cup in hand and look out over something that is so much more compelling than anything you could imagine. Even if you see it every day...could you ever grow tired of seeing San Lucia?

And, through the night once more, the ship sales on till we dock at Antiqua. Where the people were kind and welcoming. And the natives are brightly colored and curious to meet you.

Where I swam with the sting rays which was a life changing moment for me. And, I giggled as they brushed against me and pushed on me like puppies in their excitement. Antiqua that had Caribbean colors that made it possible for me to imagine my very own Corona commercial as I jetted along the surface of the water. Colors that I'll have to hold close in my memory now that I am home again, for I won't see them here...but realize I don't want to live without them now that I know they are there.

Sleeping with the gentle rolling of the ship as it makes way to San Marteen/St. Martin depending on whether you live on the French or Dutch side of the island. Where the butterfly farm was not so great as was billed. Not a farm at all, in fact, but more of a sanctuary. Not thousands of flying jewels as I had been told, but still, some that made me say, "Whoa!" And a few, like the silk moth which is almost 12 inches across more than commands respect.

San Marteen where a stroll through the French capital proved that somehow, they all knew I was coming. We are most pleased with the citizens for their tribute. So say All of Us!

On through one balmy night to our last island hop. Destination...St. Croix. More appropriately, St. Joy? For me, saving the best for last because I felt joy here. I felt happy. I understood why so many chance the hurricanes and other difficulties to remain on these tiny points of paradise.

Where colors on the buildings and the walls, no matter how bright, still seem to pale in comparison to some of the personalities you encounter. The island folk who live life by their rules and on their time. There truly is a difference between time and Island Time. I believe I'm naturally geared to the latter...but now at home, I'll have to comply with the former. Sigh.

For the briefest of time, I lived where pink houses aren't out of place or thought of as being in poor taste by a neighborhood association. Where the houses are small but loved. Many tired looking and often poor. With yards that appear unkempt and untidy. Where chickens scratch about. Goats stay tied. And, dogs dig holes under scrubby growth to find a few moments of cool out of the sun.

The ship has sailed me back again. And, I am home once more. But, not the same as I was before I left. For now I know that such colors exist.

And having seen water like this, how can one ever feel the same about life?

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka World Traveler


Coffeedoff said...

Great pictures!

Anonymous said...

That had to be an amazing trip!

rock, paper, scissors said...

Thanks for coming by my blog, Holly! These pictures of your vacation are so wonderful and full of color and peace. I'll be visiting here often :)


Sarah said...

Oh hon - thank you so much for sharing all of this - the pictures and words - delicious and juicy - full of sweet taste and tang - I felt like I was there - deeply wishing to be by the sea of late.
What a wonderful gift you gave to yourself and to us!! I have to go back and read it again - I can smell the salt air!
Namaste hon,Sarah

Life With Dogs said...

Just beautiful Holly. As much as I loved the scenery, you got me with the shot of that car window. Too fitting.
I have never wanted to go on a cruise, but you have me thinking. You always have me thinking.

Anonymous said...

What beautiful places we have on this great planet of ours. You did good with the camera...good for you.

Welcome Home Holly!

Toni said...

Isn't there some saying about 'wherever you travel becomes a part of you'? or something like that? anyway, you reminded me of something I've felt so many times -- where I travel is ALREADY a part of me, somehow ... that recognition, deja vu, things rising from within again. I would probably NOT be able to return from such a trip, to sea-oriented places. Double BB would require 4 armed guards and a straight jacket ... lovely weaving of your memories/sensations/sights with your photos.

Sara said...

Oh Holly! Beautiful... amazing... peaceful... breathtaking. Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories with us.

And thank you my dear friend for your warm wards on my blog today. They touched my heart. I wish you were close enough to hug right now. Still... I will send a big hug over the miles to you. Thank you.

Tessa said...

Oh, how utterly beautiful - both you, Holly, and the islands and the sea that surrounds them.

We lived (I nearly wrote 'loved' - quite appropriate really!) on St Thomas for 7 years and so I was absolutely delighted to travel again to the islands through your wonderful words and photographs. Thank you so much. (I once galloped across the hills of St. Croix - my first time in an American style saddle. It was like sitting in an armchair - bliss!)

And thank you, too, Holly for your lovely words on my blog. You are a real honeypie!

Anonymous said...

Blessings to you for sharing that with us! There is nothing like that feeling of experiencing something so beautiful and peace-giving, and coming home changed and renewed. I'm so happy you got to take that trip, and the pics were just amazing!

cinner said...

The pics are fabulous, the colors truly amazing. You will have these memories forever. How wonderful for you. Take Care.

Opie said...

WOW!!! That's all I have to say.

sema said...

holly,thanks for the trip.yes,reading the post i was traveling with you and it was great!
your wonderful images helped my visualizing!

Cam@Journey Wildly said... you've done it.

I have to go see these things for myself. I sure hope I have an unknown rich benefactor.

Holly, I am so completely happy for you, that you got to go see these gifts of the Universe. These pieces of serendipity for the soul.

Much love to you fellow traveler.

beth said...

what a visual feast....thank you thank you thank you !!

what an amazing trip to have experienced and soak in and how blessed are we to live vicariously through you for a few moments.....

I'm Grace said...

Your pictures took my breath away. Thank you for sharing them. And welcome back!

docwitch said...

Breathtaking! I want to go there!

Genie Sea said...

What a glorious way to begin my day. I feel like I will be walking in an azure and tropical dream! :)

Thank you for sharing your travels, Holly! :)

Anonymous said...

The best travel narrative I've ever read and the pictures take me there - beautiful. Jan

Alison said...

Great reading and super photos Holly - thanks! I've been away and am just catching up. :-)

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