Choices

Choices made, down through the ages, shaping our cultures, changing our lives – these thoughts float through my mind as I sail along on the blue water of the Caribbean.

Our huge ship makes an unexpected early morning stop way off the coast of Cuba, and our captain announces that we’re aiding a vessel in distress.  It’s a rickety old boat with fuel problems being tossed about on high seas.  Our ship is serving as a wind break until the Coast Guard arrives.  Someone has made the risky decision to leave an island controlled for decades by a dictator.  I wish them well.

A few days later we’re spending a beautiful day on Curacao, a Dutch island.  A completely different lifestyle from their Cuban neighbors to the north and their Venezuelan neighbors to the south.  Everything seemed quite idyllic to my tourist eyes.  The colorful architecture is the result of choices made by a Dutch governor over one hundred years ago.  The musical Papiamento language spoken, a mixture from peoples around the world.

A couple of days later I found myself riding in a tree trunk canoe in a river in Panama, making my way to an Enbera village.  It’s nestled on the banks of this river because a chief, somewhere way back in time, decided to move his people south.  Half of the people born into this culture choose to stay, and I felt so honored to be given a glimpse into their daily lives. 

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I eat tilapia and fried plantains from a banana leaf basket, enjoy watching little girls dance, and purchase a sweet basket from a woman wearing little more than ceremonial tattoos.

Through the amazing luxury of cruising, the next day I am in Costa Rica riding a bus high into the cool breezes on lush volcanic mountains, making my way through fields of tropical crops… bananas, coffee, macadamia nuts and sugar cane.  The day is spent on a gorgeous hacienda, feasting on candy made from freshly pressed cane juice, a delicious lunch, smooth coffee and magnificent views.  All this because a Spaniard chose to leave his home to try his hand at producing coffee for Europeans two hundred years ago.

I marvel at people who have made such adventurous, challenging choices.  I rejoice in the happiness and prosperity brought to some.  I literally moan at the anguish and poverty brought to others because of miserable decisions.

Honestly, it is too difficult to comprehend the privilege of being born in America, the descendant of a myriad of travelers from a vast array of little spots on this globe… all willing to get on boats and make their way to this continent, then willing to roll into its interior, making choices along the way, eventually leading to my existence.

How can I ever begin to comprehend this?  And I have the welcome mat of the world rolled out in front of me because I hold a passport from the United States of America.  To all my ancestors who came before me, making the choices they made… I extend my gratitude.  I have it all, including tears of thanks in my eyes. 

I have seen a little more of my world, and I’ve loved every minute of it!

Post Script:  In a terribly disappointing move, I somehow deleted all the grand photos Gary took while visiting the Enbera Indians in Panama and the hacienda in Costa Rica.   The photos here are the “snap shots” from my telephone, and they can’t begin to compare.  Friends are telling me that the photos can be retrieved… and I’m hopeful.  When I get that little task accomplished, I’ll share them with you!

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4 Responses to “Choices”

  1. Cheryl says:

    Love your story. Such perfect wording expressing how bountifully blessed we are in this country. Thanks, as always, for sharing.

  2. Marcea Clive says:

    Thanks, Sandy, for a little glimpse into your trip. Love your short haircut, too.

  3. Susanne Blake says:

    I wondered where you were and when we would get another Field Days. Loved seeing these pictures and reading. I have not flipped over here for awhile! Love

  4. Robin says:

    My dad was stationed in Curaçao during World War II. I would love to see it.

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