Trinity Falls, St. Vincent

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Today we did an amazing two hour hike out into the jungle. It was a pretty intensive—I came back filthy and bruised and my sneakers were still sopping wet from just plowing right through streams. Our destination was the gorgeous Trinity Falls, where we all swam in the strong circling current.

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But all of that felt incredible. Can’t believe how much time we spend glued to our various technology screens these days. And how easily we forget to let go of all of it for a while. Here is a picture of me holding a giant leaf instead of my cell phone.

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St. Vincent & the Grenadines

I just arrived in St. Vincent and am sitting in my hotel room at the lovely Grenadine House with an hour to relax before dinner. A bellhop just knocked on my door and handed me a tropical rum cocktail. I’m in the Caribbean.

I can’t believe I’m here. I’m so glad I’m here.

I woke up this morning at 4:45AM in Chicago, took a cab to O’Hare and flew into San Juan. After a slight layover, and after meeting up with the rest of the journalists on the trip (6 of us, including our tour contact), we hopped onto a rickety prop jet for a two hour flight to St. Vincent.

I always tend to get a little neurotic before I go out of town. I’ve been like this since I was a kid. I remember being as young as 10 and having to go through a pretty serious ritual of saying goodbye to all the pets and the house and my favorite climbing tree and the kitchen and my bedroom, my audible goodbyes laden with sighs.

And we went out of town a lot.

My ritual hasn’t changed much. I always feel a very sincere sense of urgency just before leaving on a trip. I feel as though I am unplugging myself from my world, perhaps never to return again. That last moment before walking out the door, standing in my quiet apartment, surveying my little comfortable surroundings…a pervading sense of loss or nostalgia or change imminent in the sound of my heels on the wood floor as I close the door behind me.

The last couple of days, this morning, was no different. I felt a little heavy and somber all the way to Puerto Rico and then the airplane banked South and the teeming tropical metropolis of San Juan slanted into view and suddenly it was all gone—all my worries and fears, whatever sadness I’ve been battling lately—all slipped out of view.

And flying into St. Vincent on that humming prop jet, I could hardly remember what I’d been worried about yesterday. It’s so important to me go out into the world, to sometimes wrench myself out of the places I keep to, to wash my head clear of my usual daily existence, to remember what is I want out of life.

I’ve only been here an hour and I’m already flooded with memories from our years in Grand Cayman. The lilting Caribbean accents and the thick humidity. The lazily spinning wooden fans and plantation architecture.

I’m not sure how I’ve gotten myself here but I am so grateful that I have.

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Departures

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I’m leaving tomorrow morning for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. According to the Weather Channel it’s 86 degrees there right now and 46 degrees in Chicago.

I don’t know if I’ve ever written about this here but every year when I was growing up, until I was about 16, my parents and I went to the Grand Cayman Islands at Christmas time for two weeks. We always stayed at the same resort, The Victoria House, and all the same people went every year as well. My mother went diving every morning and when I got older I started going with her. Some mornings we got up extra early to wade out into the clear blue water, holding out bits of bread for the orbiting sea turtles.

As far as I can tell the Grenadines seem similar to the Cayman Islands. Beautiful white sand beaches, hidden cays and lush underwater reef life. I know this trip will make me think of my mother. In a good way. I don’t think I ever saw her happier than during those two weeks on Grand Cayman every year.

She delighted everything about those islands and I have such visceral memories of them myself. We would go on long walks together, overturning rocks to find snails and sea urchins, picking up shells and climbing trees. My mother with a hibiscus flower tucked behind her ear, my knees red and raw from kneeling in the sand all afternoon as I built drip castles, deep indents across the backs of my thighs from the hammocks, the taste of conch chowder and the feel of coral across my fingertips.

I feel so privileged to be going on this trip and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m taking my laptop so I’ll try to write while I’m there.

In other news, no news on the job front. My interview went really well on Friday. I was meeting with the team I’d be working with and I really liked them and they really liked me so that’s a good thing. I got a call yesterday that they want me to come in for a fourth interview so we’ll see.

And it was a nice weekend. Spent with a lot of friends mostly. We cooked dinner for Greg’s sister and her family on Friday night and on Saturday my friend Jenny was in town from Los Angeles and a big group of us went out. I spent Sunday night catching up with friends on the phone—something I’m trying really hard to get better about (the phone).

When I come home (Chicago!) it will be November and the clocks will have been set back. Hopefully something will have been reset in me as well, something restored, renewed, and I’ll return to my life in Chicago grateful and happy and assured of all that the world and my life has to offer.

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