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Full Circle…

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

What began as a dream over many years, as an adventure of a lifetime over two years ago, to where I am today—I’ve come full circle. The view is equally wonderful, my belongings are around me once again…it’s definitely been a “soul’s journey”.

I am finally grounded once again.  It feels wonderful to have familiar surroundings, my own possessions, with familiar faces in my life.  I set out “seeking the sunny side of the road” not sure if I would return here to this island paradise I can call home.  Fortunately it still is my home.  Given the places I saw, the countries and cultures I experienced, along with the journey I encountered after returning back to the islands and on the road—I’ve found home once again.

Some people don’t comprehend the desire to seek out the unknown nor, giving up all that one had accumulated over time, but it was the letting go I needed to do so I could redefine my life.   I sit now in a sweet little apartment that overlooks the harbor of Honolulu with the Waianae Mountain range in the distance.  It’s a far cry from my beautiful home I had created on a hillside that had similar views but I am extremely happy with my new life.

I threw a little housewarming party on Friday night with an intimate gathering of friends that had been there for me during my year in “transition” after returning to Hawaii.  It was called a “Pre-Valentine’s Pupu Party” and it turned out just wonderful.  I am blessed with treasured friendships, a large ohana (family) that lives on island, and a new career path—that feels perfect at this point in my life.  Yes, I am blessed in many ways…

So aloha oe’ my friends near and far!  Come see me here sometime, since I’m not in a rush to pack a bag and fly anywhere, anytime soon…but this too shall pass.

A hui ho! =)

Soul Journey

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Where to begin?

Perhaps not so much from where I last left off but more about where I am now.  Not in the physical sense but perhaps the emotional one….

It’s been about a month since I last wrote of my time in India.  Since then, I’ve been to Nepal for a week, two weeks in Thailand as a beach bum basically, and now in Bali, Indonesia.  Yet I write of the physical state and not the emotional one…

It’s a bit difficult.  To state the obvious—I am not ready for this journey to end in many ways, but in other ways I must for awhile at least.  My body is physically exhausted, so much so that a few nights ago I had to call a doctor.  Everything was fine afterwards, but it scared me quite a bit.  I awoke in the middle of the night with stomach spasms so severe I wasn’t able to stand up, much less get out of bed.  So now I find myself just kind of “hanging out” more than going, doing, and exploring like I was.  Yet again, I am not ready to call this journey over with either.  And it isn’t at this point.  I’m in the beautiful country of Bali with local people that are just so kind, sweet to talk to, and again so connected by their spirituality that gives them this essence you don’t find readily in daily life in the states.  Not really.  I don’t know what it is I am trying to say.  Perhaps this t-shirt I saw today says it best.  It had symbols on it for all the major world religions, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu and it said, “God is so big he can’t wear just one label”….

How true is that?

As I look back on the countries I’ve been in and the kindness of people in spite of their social/economic situation—what sustains them is their faith.  Their beliefs.  Their thoughts.  That is where their happiness lies.  What brings them through realities we cannot imagine in our daily existence…is just that.  It is something I constantly struggle with within myself.  That believing all things are possible with faith, determination, and a dream. 

I have been so truly blessed in this lifetime in so many ways.  To have been able to live this past year doing what I have.  Seeing what I have.  Meeting some of the wonderful people I have.

So do you understand why I don’t want this journey to end yet?  I feel as if the best part has just begun.  I’ve just learned so much but have so much more to learn still…

So let me see what the road ahead still has in store.  I still have another week left in Bali then a few weeks in Australia before returning home to the islands.  It will be wonderful to see my family again.  I’ve missed them immensely, I realize this especially in my travels when I see little ones. 

But this soul still has much to learn on this journey of life and the road seems to be my best teacher of all thus far….

Let’s see where that road leads from here.

At the Water Temple

Trains, Towns, & traveling on…

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I write this from my seat on the train to Prague, in the Czech Republic.  I’ve just finished up 5 nights in Budapest, Hungary after having spent a week in Vienna, Austria.  Next stop after Prague is Berlin, then on to Copenhagen, where a girlfriend awaits to show me her lovely city & countryside. 

The road, the rails, the rambling this soul has been doing is starting to catch up somewhat.  The week in Vienna was excellent, since I had the pleasure of a couple of girlfriend’s company.  It was great to not have to think ahead or plan anything or research a thing.  Do I sound like I’m getting a bit tired of this traveling nomad’s life??  Perhaps, yes—but the reality is when it’s over with, I’ll wish I was on the road again.  So I’m taking it all in stride as best as I can.  Let me recap some of the highlights of the cities I’ve just visited, while they are still fresh in my memory.

Vienna…  What an elegant city–that’s how I kept describing it to people I would talk with.  Sites that were just a delight to explore more than once were definitely Shonbrunn Castle & its beautiful grounds.  I believe it is something like 40 hectares in the heart of the city.  Simply gorgeous.  Tranquil, even with all the crowds that come to see it daily.  My dear TEFL classmate, Kathi, shared it with me my first day in Vienna.  What fun to explore the grounds, we never went to tour the inside of the castle; the grounds were so spectacular we didn’t want to spend our time indoors!  I returned on another day with a friend that joined me in Vienna for a few days, without really seeing the same areas in the same manner twice.  It truly is a splendid place to spend a day or several hours.

Kathi & Shonbrunn

Something I’ve come to realize in my travels is the real joy I find when I’m in nature.  It can be in a city park, a botanical garden, or lovely settings like the national park in Plitvice, Croatia.  I find serenity in these places, but also a real connection with the environment around me.  I knew this at a young age, when I decided to major in forestry in college, later finishing in horticulture.  After my travels are done, I intend to find work in a national park seasonally. 

Vienna has so much to offer it’s really hard to put into words the feelings I felt about the city, other than it is cosmopolitan, sophisticated, culturally aware, and just a real gem of a city.  The public transportation is excellent; there are bike paths throughout the city too, so if you are so inclined the choice is really up to you.  Fun experiences were at the Rathausplatz (town hall plaza) where my final night they had the opera “Carmen” on the big 50x 80 foot screen with incredible high definition & a sound system that was equally impressive.  All for free! =)  Also, the Praterplatz with its amusement park, the Danube River of course which my friend Tina took me out on for an afternoon cruise.  All equally wonderful experiences and the list could go on & on.

Rathausplatz

Next stop was Budapest…..

But now I’m on the train from Prague heading to Berlin.

Where to pick up?  I think from where I am—although I don’t want to side step Budapest. 

The city was also beautiful, but a definite air of depression seemed to cover it too.  The buildings were covered in soot, from years and years of traffic exhaust. It sort of gave the city a feel of the obvious in terms of the years of oppression from communist ruling and occupation.  The streets are all under some type of construction with a new metro line being installed, so the city felt like it was trying to come out of its past, but it has not emerged yet.  I hope it recovers the way that the Czech Republic seems to have. 

Prague is alive. 

Budapest was best experienced for me by hitting the amazing baths it’s renowned for.  The one I went to the first day was definitely my favorite.  I went to the Gellert Baths on my last day, which is known as one of the original bath houses.  The Szecheryr Furdo baths where I went first, were pure indulgence, vibrant, & filled with all kinds of people.  I spent a good 6 hours there that day, which flew by.  At the Gellert Baths I stayed maybe 3 hours and was ready to leave at that time…enough said.

Szecheryr Furdo Chess match

Bathing Buda-style!

Budapest also has some amazing sites to visit all of which I really enjoyed, from the Parliament where the crown jewels are on display, to its castle that overlooks the Danube from the Buda-side of the river, to Margaret Island, with its lovely gardens & bike paths to ride along under beautiful wooded paths, while the Danube is circling it’s coastline.  It’s what you make of it right?!  I indeed made the best of the city, in spite of a traveling companion who turned sour quickly.  I knew something was up when that feather floated down in front of me as soon as we entered our hostel—life really is like a box of chocolates….  =)

So as I said, previously Prague is ALIVE!

Its buildings are beautiful, its architecture amazing, the pastel colors of the buildings all speak to you as you walk by them, the tender care that has been taken of them is so evident everywhere you turn.  The city is vibrant, with tourists, locals, music & art forms everywhere you turn.  The weather while I was there was cold, rainy, but instead of feeling like remaining indoors I felt inspired to take photographs in sepia my first day out!  Does that tell you something?

Prague Castle from Charles Bridge

Prague also has a beautiful river flowing through it, called the Vltava River.  It also boasts the Charles Bridge with fantastic statues every few meters on either side of it.  There is no lack of great photography that has captured it from every possible angle & time of day, via the artists that line the bridge as you walk across to the other side of town where its impressive castle is known as Prazsky Hrad.

The thing that I enjoyed the most about Prague was it’s wonderful music scene, with composers such as Mozart having adopted it as a second home, during his glory days, it has brought a diverse population of musicians with the best you could ask for in everything from classical, to opera, to jazz, blues and beyond.  I was in Prague only for 4 nights but was able to hear live music for free in the Old Town Square two of four days, due to the Prague Jazz Festival being put on by the Agartha Jazz folks.  My last night I spent listening to some hot R&B, by a Scotsman named “Stan the Man” at the U Maleho Glena club.

Berlin—you have a tall order to fill!

Prague at night

Panama Update

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

I sit in my newly rented apartment in Buenos Aires as I write this post.  It’s perfect in almost every way and it has touches that are so like my home I had back in the islands with glass block accents, color schemes and attention to detail.  I like this living simply “Argentinian Style”! =)

But this post isn’t about Buenos Aires yet, but about my time spent in Panama with family and friends made along the way…

Aerial view-Panama City from Casco Viejo to the Bridge of the Americas

Aerial view-Panama City from Casco Viejo to the Bridge of the Americas

My time spent in Panama was the perfect way to introduce myself back into Latin cultures by sharing it with such wonderful family.  I spent time in the city of Panama the first few days, seeing relatives and taking in the city some and it’s changing dynamics.  It is a city that is being reinvented in many ways and it will be interesting to see how it evolves as it develops.  There are massive construction projects being done all in and around the city.  Many people from Canada and the US are finding it as a destination for early retirement or for health reasons.  I’m not sure that it can quite live up to it’s goals yet, with a severe crime factor, along with that a big part of it’s people still struggle to make a living.  But as in every place on the planet there are people that are thriving in many ways.  If people have made an education a priority and are willing to do the hours and the work it demands to be successful–many people are doing that quite well in Panama. 
      I am proud to say that my family is doing so in many ways and in many different types of enterprises.  From being graphic artists, to owners of various types of businesses, to technology industry sales.  The opportunities are there for the asking….
      After several days in the city I took a bus north to the city of David where a part of my family still lives.  I reconnected with them over a few days there and was able to spend a day in the town of Volcan, visiting my cousin Flor’s daughter, Cynthia.  They are farmers living a very wonderful existence off their family farm, growing a variety of products for market.  The next day was a birthday celebration with my cousin, Emilia’s family for her daughter in-law.  Another memorable evening spent.
     The following day I headed out in my cousin Flor’s old Buick, to Boquete.  I loved it–I was totally incognito until I would get out of the car and start talking! =)  My time in Boquete flew by,  I was there 4 nights and 3 days and managed to visit an animal resuce center, also a natural hot springs near the town of Caldera with my guide Ana Gonzalez….truly a “sunny spot in the road”. Finally my last excursion was a morning horseback ride along the Rio Caldera and around one mountainside that looks out on Boquete.
Boquete, Chiriqui-Panama

Boquete, Chiriqui-Panama

      Boquete is suffering from growing pains as well with many “estranjeros” (foreigners) moving to this lovely mountain town.  But the town still holds it’s charm and beauty.  Driving around the mountainside in El Buick I was able to take in some gorgeous scenery.  It reminded me a bit of the Big Island with it’s coffee farming industry and landscape, but it definitely was not Hawaii.  So many species of birds everywhere you turn…and flowers–the town truly lives up to it’s name “bouquet”. 
      Three days flew by and I needed to get back to David to catch my bus back to Panama City.  This time around though I was lucky enough to get the last seat on the bus, but next to the toilet and a Dominican woman who wouldn’t quit talking loudly on her cell phone or to me even when I had my earphones on for my iPod! =)  That was a longer six hour ride than the one up for sure…    But all part of the journey–right?!
       My last night I spent with my wonderful hanai family The Echevers.  We had a wonderful lunch the next day and I left almost in tears, not knowing if I would return to Panama again for certain and if this may be the last time I saw them for many years…  And with that said, my time in Panama was about family more than anything.
      I think the one thing to know and understand is the beauty of family and what raising one another closely nearby does for the bond it makes over a lifetime.  Just like my family in Hawaii, same as my family in Panama, children that grow up together become a part of each other’s lives in a way that cannot be replaced in any shape or form.  It’s beautiful to witness in my cousin’s children and their children’s children.  Same as it is with my beautiful ohana back in the islands.  Children raised together as a family form a bond over a lifetime that is unique, special, and immeasurable.  I am privileged to have been a part of that in Hawaii and to have seen it again through Panamanian eyes.  
     More to follow…
Coriat-Mendez Familia in Volcan

Coriat-Mendez Familia in Volcan

Mi Familia en Hawaii

Mi Familia en Hawaii

Familia Echevers
Familia Echevers

Saying Hello & Goodbye…

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Stay tuned for the adventures of this wanderlust, seeking the sunny side of the road in a life lived simply…  I will again quote a wise old soul, Mark Twain–”“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”