Friday, August 19, 2011

The stars at night-are big and bright

1 year ago today, I arrived in Texas for the 3d time in my life.  I flew into Love Field and was picked up at the airport by my high school friend Shan.

Unlike the other times I had been to Texas; once when I was 8 my dad drove the entire family from Providence, RI to Guatemala.  Then in May 2010 I visited the North Dallas area again to interview for a job.  I landed the job, a great career move for me, but I would have to move 1800 miles from everything I have ever known.  I was coming to Dallas, TX to stay.

I would be leaving behind my parents, my brothers, my cousins, my social network (no KB or Jess or CJ), my sorority sisters in my grad chapter, my pham in general.  My entire network that has spread out mostly through the northeastern part of the country.  But most importantly I would be leaving my girls.
Maya and Jasmine wearing an outfit I brought back from Vietnam

The GuateRicans, my 8 and 9 year old nieces that I love dearly, that I helped to raise, the very ones that received a post card from every place I have ever been.  My Jas and Maya.  They're the ones I miss the most.  Even now a year later, though I have been home and visited 5 times since moving to Texas, it is still  hardest to say good bye to Maya, we both cry when we hug each other goodbye, it reminds me of when she was little and I would have to sneak out of her house to go home.  Even though I assure her that I will  be back to visit soon, it breaks my heart each time.  I miss Alex too, my little boyfriend, but our relationship is quite different than that of Jasmine and Maya.
with Alex at New England Patriot Training Day 2010

Those girls did everything with me from the time Maya was 9 months old, we traveled together, made road trips to Maryland and NY they spent a lot of time with me.  Those that didnt know me well, assumed that the girls were my children.

The move to Texas so far has been a blessing.  I have been fortunate that I had a couple of friends that already lived in this area, and thanks to my "network" have made friends through some people I know from back home.  After my arrival here the blessings have continued, from my job promotion and raise within 15 days of my arrival, to my acquiring a new car, and even finding a cool and compatible room mate.  This move truly has been a great thing.

Since moving to Texas I have done some traveling.  I have also taken in some of the Texas scenes and sights.  I have seen Daley Plaza, been to the Rodeo, been to a Maverick's game (prior to their championship), been to a concert, been to a mega church, driven to another major city without leaving the state, driven to New Orleans, and even driven the 1800 miles back to RI.  I can assure you I miss my little Rhody.  I miss hanging out with KB and Jess, I miss watching my Patriots with little effort.  I miss waterfire, the smell of the ocean, the proximity of things, the 3 hour drive to chill with CJ in New York, and I even miss winter.  Though I will take this Texas heat over the Hazy, Hot, and Humid RI summers any day even if it is for a 50 day stretch as we have experienced this summer, it hasn't rained here since May.

Texas truly is a whole new world, and for now it is the capital of my world, it is my new home.  I look forward to continue exploring it and will continue to post of my adventures no matter how boring they may be, I hope you continue to read.

San Diego to RI: completing the Circumnavigation of the globe

The sun rose over Mexico like every other sunrise we had seen for the past 11 ports.  It was beautiful, but this one was different.  The hug from former colleagues, now great friends was a little tighter and meant a little more.  We were entering our last port.   The end of a journey started 110 days prior.

We could see parents, family and friends holding banners, waving, and cheering on the dock.  Welcoming us back.  Students recognizing their parents and calling them on the phone.  Emotions were high.  Everyone had tears streaming down their face.

In the days before we had packed up all of our things, we had prepared for this day.  While packing you could hear the students reminiscing of where they bought a shirt, a dress, a hat, a back scratcher.  How they haggled with the vendors.  All of their stories now memories.  We placed all of our items outside of our door and they were collected and brought down to the belly of the ship to be brought out into the customs area for us.  We would then just identify our items as we cleared customs ourselves.

Though I would remain on the ship for an additional day, when we finally departed and cleared customs, I sat there with all of my things waiting for my friend Daoud to come pick me up.  He sent a friend to collect me, we loaded all of my luggage and bags and he drove me to Daoud's apartment in San Diego.  As I left the port I could hear my heart pounding.  I thought I was going to cry again, and just like that the ship was out of view and we were in a residential area.  Within the next few hours I was doing laundry at Doud's and repacking my luggage preparing to fly back to Providence.  The time flew by.

And just like that the next morning I was in line waiting to board my Southwest flight to Providence.  I arrived to Providence on Dec 17, 2009.  120 days after I had departed from my own house.  Left behind everything that I knew and was as familiar to me as my own hand.

Now here I was back again in the home I had grown up in, and though I looked the same, everything was different.  All of a sudden the world seemed so much smaller, and I knew that I wouldn't be here for too much longer.  Because there was so much more I wanted to see and explore, and I was going to continue to do so.

the longest trip home

the answer:  2554 miles
the question: the distance we traveled in 4 days to get to San Diego, from Honolulu Hawaii

these 4 days were the 2nd longest 4 days of my life, 2nd only to the 4 days I spent in pain with my back out, in Jamaica alone after Hurricane Dean.

The voyage around the world was amazing.  The experiences were once in a life time, the friends I made of colleagues are forever.  But at this point we all just wanted to be home.  There are only so many ocean views one can take.

Diamond Head in the background as we depart Honolulu, HI

Monday, August 15, 2011

stuck in paradise

From Honolulu, we traveled to Hilo, an island I had visited before.  While in Hilo I once again visited Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, it has been erupting since 1983.  This would be my second tour of the volcano.  I went along to see some lava tubes and hear the tour and the story of Pele, the volcano goddess once again.

We returned to the ship excited for our departure in another day, only to find out that due to tropical storms in the Pacific Ocean, our ship would return to Honolulu and sit there for about 36 hours in order to let the storms pass.

For the 2nd time in my life, I was stuck in paradise.  I know your thinking, why are you complaining, I can think of worst places to be stuck in than 86 degree Honolulu, Hawaii.  I assure you I realize that, however after 100 days on this journey and being so close to being home, it was just "I wanted to get home"!  There I said it.

My extra day in Hawaii was really uneventful.  I spent it lazily laying on the beach taking in the sun and the air and the sounds of surf boarders and I appreciated another Hawaiian sunset.  Some of the more adventurist students went to the other side of the island to witness a once in a life time competition, A legendary big wave surfing contest, the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, was held for the first time since 2004, waves had to reach a minimum of 40 feet in order to host this competition.  They came back to the ship enthralled with what they saw.  It was all just great.

Next stop San Diego.

There are 2 sides to every story

Like every other morning we arrived at a new port we woke up early and went up to the 7th deck to watch the sunrise over our new destination.  Though, this was slightly different.  We were home, well almost home.  We had arrived to our first US port in 4 months of travel and though thousands of miles from our destination we were back in the US.  This morning more than the usual  community members joined us to watch our re entry.  As the sun rose we were also surrounded by an unfamiliar sound.  The sound of people chatting on their cell phones, students, staff, faculty talking to family members letting them know we were almost home.

USS Arizona/Pearl Harbor

One of the sights that I visited while in Honolulu was Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona, its the other half of the story of World War I.  The attack of Pearl Harbor and bombing of the USS Arizona is what led to the US dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The USS Arizona still lies at the bottom of the Harbor and leaks oil, some 60 plus years after its 1177 passengers were entombed there.  The site is a solemn place, reminding me of my visits to Arlington cemetery and the tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. 

We arrive to the monument and had to take a small boat out to the monument, a white marble structure that was built over where the Arizona lies.  

  As you enter the monument you see the flags of the states who's name sake battle ships were also affected. On the opposite side the flags representing Hawaii, the United States of America and the branches of the military.
 As you walk through there is space, in the middle a hollow for one to look down and see tropical fish among the wreckage, among coral that now covers the barely visible USS Arizona,

 and then the silent yet visible reminders in form of oil droplets or black tears, that something horrible happened and that there in fact are remnants below.

On the far wall, the list of names of those 1177 people who's lives were lost on that day in December 68 years almost to the day that I visited the Arizona



I am writing this entry almost 2 years after I visited Hiroshima.

On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 A.M. the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on this capital city.  Devastating it and the surrounding area.

I visited this city and saw first hand some of the monuments that still stand, a tribute to a day and time that should never be relived.

I also visited the Museum, dedicated to eradicating the use of atomic/nuclear weapons.  It was quite a site to see.  The images and stories of the people captured within are forever embedded in my mind.    Which is the primary reason it has taken me this long to write this post.  When as a human being you are exposed to the atrocities that have been inflicted on other human beings, in the name of your own rights it is hard to come to terms with it.  As a resident of the United States of America, it is an inheritance that I have fully been able to benefit from yet when faced with the responsibility to understand, It has been a hard pill to swallow.  War is not easy, and seeing first hand the decimation that took place in a country half way around the world was a bit much and still all too real.

I ramble so I will stop.  Here is more information on Hiroshima.